The Earth in Fragments: A Memoir by Michael Charles Tobias


Michael Charles Tobias, PhD
Series: Distinguished Men and Women of Science, Medicine and the Arts
BISAC: PHI000000

As a child, Michael Charles Tobias encountered a wolf caged in a zoo. Gazing upon the pacing, desperate animal, Tobias asked his Father, “Why is he in jail?” For over half a century, Tobias has roamed the earth in search of an answer. This memoir is a testimony to Tobias’ field research, expeditions, deliberations, and some answers to that haunting question. Systems ecologist, philosopher, historian of ideas, anthropologist, ethicist and philanthropist, Tobias has emerged as one of the most influential and far-reaching ecological philosophers of this generation. The Earth in Fragments: A Memoir by Michael Charles Tobias chronicles many of his most incisive areas of research, activism and philosophical inflections.

Much of the data, conveyed in a personal and enlightening series of recollections, lends incisive clarity to the emergence and escalating challenges of the environmental and life sciences fields. Tobias shares glimpses into many of the often ethically-harrowing research conundrums confronting him and his wife, Jane Gray Morrison, as they have effectively endeavored throughout the globe, focusing upon animal rights and conservation biology initiatives. Their more than 50 books and 75 films have shed a powerful spotlight on many of the most pressing issues of our time.

The anecdotes pour forth, from an ancient monastery in the Sinai, across the Himalayas, to the Arctic and Antarctic, where Tobias was among the first to draw global attention to the crises mounting across the Last Continent. We see him behind the scenes, directing the ambitious ten-hour drama, “Voice of the Planet” in two-dozen countries, examining the Gaia Hypothesis; conducting a project in the heart of the 1989 catastrophic oil spill in Alaska; his irrepressible quest to understand the runaway train of human overpopulation across the planet in his book and accompanying PBS film “World War III.” We follow his probing philosophical meditations-in-action as an animal liberationist from California, Mali, Kenya, China, Greece and Russia. We see his appeal for a “new human nature” in cutting-edge scientific research calling for an interspecies revolution that is at once pantheistic, ethically holistic, and as imaginative and ecologically paradoxical as it is pragmatic.

The reader is led through a dazzling and provocative labyrinth of deeply moving eco-science in countries like New Zealand, Madagascar, Brazil, Chile’s Rapa Nui, and throughout Europe, West Africa and Asia. From the Ecuadorian Amazon to Haiti; from Mozambique, Yemen, and Namibia to Borneo, Tobias and Morrison have worked to bring critical conservation strategies and policy priorities to government leaders and scientists throughout the world.

With insights from paleontology, Renaissance art history, deep demography, and the most recent advances in biodiversity conservation and biosemiotics, Tobias leads readers on an exquisite and uplifting journey that, while describing much devastation, provides hopeful glimpses into a near future that is not only possible, but essential for the well-being of the world, as viewed, lived and chronicled by one man at the heart of the Anthropocene.

Special Interview
To read an interview Dr. Marc Bekoff had with our author, Michael Charles Tobias, which was posted in Psychology Today, click here.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Dolittle Biosemiotics

Chapter 3. A Cave in the Sinai

Chapter 4. Taktsang Chronicles

Chapter 5. Ladakh in Context

Chapter 6. Searching For Nikos Kazantzakis

Chapter 7. In the Company of Ursus arctos

Chapter 8. The Paradise Lost Factor

Chapter 9. Ahimsa

Chapter 10. Antarctic Uncertainty

Chapter 11. The End of Oil

Chapter 12. Voice of the Planet

Chapter 13. World War III

Chapter 14. Liberation Biosynthesis

Chapter 15. A New Nature

Chapter 16. The Dark

Chapter 17. A Purgatory of Incongruencies

Chapter 18. A Parliament of Birds

Chapter 19. Quixotic by Nature

Chapter 20. The Problem with New Zealand

Chapter 21. A Trilogy of Turmoil

Chapter 22. Finding Sanctuary

Chapter 23. The Dreams of a Donkey

Chapter 24. The Mysteries of Anthrozoology

Chapter 25. The Yasuní Factor

Chapter 26. Protecting Haiti

Chapter 27. Swords into Plowshares

Chapter 28. Theoretical Considerations

Chapter 29. The Life of a Nomad

Chapter 30. The Renaissance Origins of Biophilia

Chapter 31. Metaphysical Protection

Chapter 32. Hypothetical Species

Chapter 33. The Bionomics Conundrum in Bhutan

Chapter 34. Future Paradox

Chapter 35. Coda



“Michael Charles Tobias’ The Earth in Fragments: A Memoir, is a veritable history of the environmental movement, as told by one courageous, global ecologist. He is an authentic witness to the Anthropocene, which he has remarkably chronicled in many of the most provocative, telling and important initiatives and moments of this, or any generation. This book, an epic journey, is an ecological confessional in the rich vein of Jean-Paul Sartre and Aldo Leopold. Tobias has created a masterpiece of reflection that will seduce, illuminate, and challenge readers to seek at long last a true peace treaty with the planet. Many thanks to him for the massive amount of work he has accomplished; and for keeping so many candles of hope burning globally, lighting up dark times when it is all too easy to give up.” -Dr. Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder. Author of Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence; and, The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age

“What do you get when you combine restless spirit with an intellect that can only be described as breathtaking in scope and scale? That person reveals himself marvelously in these pages. Michael Tobias is a citizen of the planet. When he looks at things, it’s from the perspective of someone who can quote 17th century literature, as easily as the taxonomy of a rare plant species indigenous to the dark forest of Bialowieza; someone who has climbed many mountains, who has been an enduring hero for animal rights, who knows the nuances of the most esoteric crannies of science, who has found solace in the company of Jain ‘Ahimsa’, and has helped shape the doctrine of ‘Gross National Happiness’ in Bhutan. What comes through more than anything is Tobias’ deep well of compassion for our Earth; for all life. He has seen the impact of human overreach firsthand in every part of the planet. He is clearly pained to his core by the tide of existential challenges that more and more threaten life on Earth, and the collective human culture’s failure thus far to adequately address those unprecedented challenges. Though Tobias seems skeptical that humanity will find a way to correct course in time to avoid biospheric collapse, he does see some hope that the best empathic instincts of the theoretical individual will somehow prevail over the worse instincts of the collective human culture. Beautifully written, richly nuanced, I admire Michael Tobias the human being, and heartily recommend his memoir, The Earth in Fragments.” -Geoffrey Holland, Author, The Hydrogen Age

The Earth in Fragments is a sampler, an anthology of sorts of Tobias’ vast literary and heroic global film projects, wherein he undertakes any and all measures to free the earth from human exploitation, affliction and bondage.” … READ MORE – Michael Bostick, environmental professional, artist and freelance writer

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