cover image Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World

Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World

Emma Marris. Bloomsbury, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-63557-494-4

Environmental journalist Marris (Rambunctious Garden) ruminates on the "unpredictable complexity" and "strange beauty" of the nonhuman world in this wide-ranging if superficial appeal for humans to reconsider the ethics of their relationships with other species. Noting that, by weight, there is now "ten times as much humanity as wild mammals in the world," Marris describes modern humans as "super influencers" with uncanny effects on the natural world. Climate change and such human activities as farming and deforestation have created "moral dilemmas" for which conservationists have failed to find solutions, she writes, and wonders, for example, if humans are obligated to feed animals whose hunting grounds have been destroyed by human activity. Because of this, humans' relationships with animals have grown "knottier." Marris touches on many examples of odd (and at times troubling) human-animal relations, arguing that Justin Bieber's hybrid cats function as ornaments, and describing the strange new species Europeans introduced to New Zealand in the 18th century. But she fails to go deep in her advice, and some solutions seem unlikely (she imagines feeding endangered polar bear populations plant-based food). Readers hoping for a more grounded discussion of environmental issues should look elsewhere. Agent: Abigail Koons, Park & Fine Literary and Media. (June)