The Earth in Fragments: A Memoir by Michael Charles Tobias


Michael Charles Tobias (Author)

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.



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

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