Earth911’s Mitch Ratcliffe explores the cultural barriers to a harmonious relationship with nature in a conversation with author Philip Loring about his book, Finding Our Niche. Loring is the Arrell Chair in Food, Policy, and Society at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. He writes that “reconciliation takes hard work at all levels, from federal governments to within individuals’ hearts and minds. It requires that we dismantle our existing, imbalanced systems of power and privilege, give the land back to Indigenous peoples and then trust, rather than fear, what these actions will mean for us settlers.”
Loring’s meditative writing based on decades of research in indigenous communities is a pleasure to read; it opens paths to discovering the sense of stewardship that humans must bring to their interactions with the environment if we are to recast our lifestyles. He discusses myth, metaphor, and the shifts in thinking that can transform our relationship with nature. A climate optimist, he also talks about the value of speculative science fiction, including Star Trek, as humanity wrestles with its poor environmental record.