In his new book The Edge of Extinction: Travels with Enduring People in Vanishing Lands, University Essex Environment and Society professor Jules Pretty documents his visits to 12 different environments around the world where traditional human cultures are hanging on despite the pressures to modernize. Pretty does an admirable job showing that we would be wise to pay attention to the ancient ways of these traditional societies if we are to find our way out of the current climate and environmental crisis and into a more sustainable future.
Along the way, Pretty visits with the Maori of New Zealand, the Yaburara of Australia’s Outback, the Tuvans of Southern Siberia, and the Okavangons of Botswana, not to mention stops in China, England, Northern Ireland, Canada, Louisiana and Ohio. Some of the hot button issue Pretty touches on during his travels and his sonorous narrative include climate change and development, misconceptions of nature preservation, and prejudice and lack of respect for traditional lifestyle choices. What makes the book such a valuable read is that what Pretty learns from the traditional peoples he meets on his travels might just be the key to our sustainable future wherever we live.