The environmental campaigner and editor of the Guardian’s “Green” supplement looks at the economics of ecosystems in this new guide. Full of engaging and startling stories, such as how the Chinese use feather dusters to pollinate plants in the absence of bees, and how birds protect the Dutch apple harvest.
“Several years ago, Indian farmers began using a new anti-inflammatory drug on their cattle. Traces proved to be lethal for vultures, which were killed in vast numbers. Dead cattle were left to rot with disastrous effects.
“There was an explosion in the population of wild dogs,” says environmentalist Tony Juniper. “More dogs led to more dog bites and that caused more rabies infections among people.” The disease killed thousands and cost the Indian government an estimated $30bn, he adds.
The fate of the Indian vulture makes it very clear that we tamper with the natural world at our peril. As the conservationist John Muir said: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, you find it attached to the rest of the world.” Certainly as an answer to the Pythonesque question posed by Juniper’s title, the story – with many other tales garnered in this salutary, highly readable appreciation of the living world – tells a simple truth. Nature does a great deal for us.”