cover image The Nation of Plants

The Nation of Plants

Stefano Mancuso, trans. from the Italian by Gregory Conti. Other, $21.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-635420-99-9

Botanist Mancuso (The Revolutionary Genius of Plants) showcases his discoveries about plant communication in this passionate if quirky manifesto. He imagines that plants have been recognized as their own nation, whose representatives address the United Nations to appeal for human cooperation to save Earth from catastrophic damage. In this scenario, a representative asserts plants’ right to respect, noting that Earth is only alive because plantlife generates oxygen and serves as a food and energy source. Mancuso fleshes out his conceit with the nation of plants’ own constitution, the articles of which include a guarantee of “the right to clean water, soil, and atmosphere” and prohibit the “consumption of any resource that can’t be reconstituted for future generations of living beings.” Stepping out of the plant-nation setup, Mancuso suggests a strategy of combating global warming by increased plantings that will enable absorption of significant amounts of carbon dioxide, and devoting more funding to plant research. The whimsical approach will not be for every reader, but those open to suspending disbelief will benefit from a concise summary of plants’ past, present, and possible future role in sustaining life on Earth. Lewis Thomas’s fans should take a look. (Mar.)