By Kenneth Worthy
Prometheus Books, $19.00, 325 pages
Who made that sweater you’re wearing? How will your computer get recycled? Chances are, you don’t know; in the modern world, few of us do. So how does this affect your everyday choices, and how do those choices affect the planet as a whole? Kenneth Worthy critically examines this situation in his information-packed new book, Invisible Nature: Healing the Destructive Divide between People and the Environment.
Worthy posits that the modern, consumption-driven lifestyle is at odds with the sustainability of the source of those products: the earth itself. He tackles the paradox from many different angles, from Aristotle’s philosophical musings to Zimbardo’s social psychology experiments. References to scientific studies, journal articles, classic fiction, and contemporary writings are thick on the ground here, reflecting Worthy’s well-rounded grasp of his subject, but also carrying the distinct possibility of overwhelming the casual reader.
Worthy’s ultimate conclusion—that humanity’s inability to understand the consequences of its actions stems from our growing disconnection from the people and places that support us—is convincing, and leads to an optimistic, if too brief, discussion of the ways we might mitigate this disconnect.
Reviewed by Sheila Trask for San Francisco Book Review