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The Moth Snowstorm by Mike McCarthy, published by John Murray 2015

Posted: Friday 26th February 2016 by Book-Reviews

The moth snowstormThe moth snowstorm

Until he retired, Mike McCarthy was the environmental correspondent for The Independent for many years, one of the very best in the country. His new book delves into his childhood experiences but at the same time reaches out to all of us who care about the planet and its wildlife. The book is dedicated to his mother, Norah, but it isn’t until the last chapter that you realise quite what an effect she had on him. McCarthy’s first wildlife encounter was with a suburban buddleia bush bedecked with colourful butterflies. He was just seven at the time but this encounter with nature stayed with him all his life. In middle age, he would try (and succeed) to see all the species of butterfly that occur in the UK in a single summer. However, the thrust of the book is to emphasise how deeply nature is implanted in us all, probably due to the hundreds of past generations when our forebears were hunter gatherers. He feels sure that the feeling of joy that we get from nature is imprinted within us and can be utilised to help us try to save the planet. He’s suspicious of the new movement which puts a price on every aspect of nature: this bog is worth X billion dollars as a carbon sink, this sea is worth Y million dollars for the fish that swim in it, etc. He strongly feels that we need to awake the deep need for nature (and the joy we can get from it) if we are to do anything to halt the extinction of species and the annihilation of habitats. Nature is more than shillings and pence. McCarthy writes very well and his book is an important contribution to our thinking at this pivotal time in the earth’s history. I would certainly recommend it to you. Book review by Nick Brown

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