"A groundbreaking exploration of the relationship between humans and the natural world where two great economic ideologies converge. Along the Bering Strait, through the territories of the Inupiat and Yupik in Alaska, and the Yupik and Chukchi in Russia, Bathsheba Demuth explores an ecosystem that has long sustained human beings. Yet when Americans and Europeans arrived with self-serving ideas of human progress, the Chukchi and Seward Peninsulas and surrounding waters became the site of an historical experiment. Here, the great modern ideologies of production and consumption, capitalism and communism, were subject to the pressures of arctic scarcity. Whales and walruses, caribou and fox, gold and oil: through these resources Demuth draws a vivid portrait of the sweeping effects of turning ecological wealth into economic growth and state power over the past century and a half. More urgent in a warming climate, and as we seek new economic ideas for a postindustrial age, Floating Coast delivers necessary warnings and poses provocative questions about human desires and needs in relation to environmental sustainability"--
The book is not devoid of historical facts and narratives. Frankly, much of
But when Demuth is poetic, she is sublime. Most of these moments came towards the beginning and towards the end. Tastes:
"[T]he world is not what we make of it; it is part of what makes us: our flesh and bones, and also our inclinations and hopes."
"An ecosystem is the aggregate of many species' habits of transformation, their ways of moving energy from its origin in the sun across space & condensing it over time. To be alive is to take a place in a chain of conversions."
"We all live in more than one time... The evidence is all around us, in the layered world: a mossy, decaying mission store in Gambell, built near an ancient whale-butchering place, across from a row of tidy new homes... [A] house with Soviet concrete walls, but a roof made of walrus hide so fresh, it smelled."
"Fossil fuels freed the use of energy from human toil, allowing human history to seem separate from the rest of time... This made possible a new idea of liberty, released from the constraints of the matter that made us, and from the precariousness of being."
That does sum up for me where we find ourselves.