An exhilarating journey of natural renewal through a year with MacArthur fellow Carl Safina
Beginning in his kayak in his home waters of eastern Long Island, Carl Safina's The View from Lazy Point takes us through the four seasons to the four points of the compass, from the high Arctic south to Antarctica, across the warm belly of the tropics from the Caribbean to the west Pacific, then home again. We meet Eskimos whose way of life is melting away, explore a secret global seed vault hidden above the Arctic Circle, investigate dilemmas facing foraging bears and breeding penguins, and sail to formerly devastated reefs that are resurrecting as fish graze the corals algae-free.
"Each time science tightens a coil in the slack of our understanding," Safina writes, "it elaborates its fundamental discovery: connection."
He shows how problems of the environment drive very real matters of human justice, well-being, and our prospects for peace.
In Safina's hands, nature's continuous renewal points toward our future. His lively stories grant new insights into how our world is changing, and what our response ought to be.
I slide a fishing rod into my kayak as birds begin gathering over our bay. They know what's coming. So do I. On many summer afternoons, packs of surfacing Bluefish chase up small fish, drawing excited flocks of diving terns. The terns carry those little fish a few miles to hungry youngsters waiting eagerly on small, unpeopled islands. As it has been for millennia, so it is this very moment.
Having long studied—and sautéed—this aspect of our neighborhood both formally and at leisure, applying both statistical models and garlic as appropriate, I can report
A deeply personal book with a broadly global message, The View From Lazy Point is an exhilarating journey with a distinctly coastal flavor. In this intertwined story of humanity and the natural world, Safina shows that nature and human dignity require each other.
Winner of the 2012 Orion Book Award
"Safina’s book soars, adding his voice to a small chorus that includes the poet Mary Oliver and the environmentalist David W. Orr.... I had to—and wanted to—read The View from Lazy Point very slowly, allowing myself to digest its wealth of information, to revel in the beauty of Safina’s writing and to absorb fully the implications of his musings.... What a pleasure it is to be asked to stop rushing about and take time to think, to grapple with fundamental questions, and to find such an enlightening, provocative companion for walking and talking—and reading. We can ask no more from those who warn about dark days ahead than that they also awaken us to the miracle of everyday life as they try to illuminate a better path forward."—Dominique Browning, The New York Times Book Review
"With the spiral of a year as his structure and with what Einstein termed the 'circle of compassion' as his moral compass, MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow Safina illuminates the wondrous intricacy and interconnectedness of life in a book of beautifully modulated patterns and gracefully stated imperatives. Safina's exacting descriptions of coral reefs and polar bears, the acidification of the oceans, and melting glaciers are matched by bold observations regarding the consequences of our failure to incorporate knowledge of how nature, the original network, actually works into our now dangerously inadequate economic systems and social institutions.... Safina argues that we must renew the social contract, free ourselves from the politics of greed, and embrace the facts about the still thriving yet endangered, immeasurably precious living world."—Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review)
"Not so much a polemic against anthropogenic climate change as an impression of a world in flux, a lament about the damage caused by overexploitation, pollution and flawed economics, and a call to arms in the cause of hope.... Mr. Safina's writing moves easily from revelatory observation sparked by a flash of bird or splash of fish to passionate, lyrical philosophy. He rails against the concept of growth-based development. He tears into Adam Smith’s thoughts on the benefits of selfishness and argues that defending dirty energy is as morally bankrupt as defending slavery. Mr. Safina rubs away at the chalk circle that 19th-century thinkers drew around humanity to separate it from the natural world."—The Economist
"Captivating.... Each chapter roils with informed, impassioned descriptions of Lazy Point’s abundant wildlife: Loons and terns and red-winged blackbirds, salamanders and harbor seals, frogs and flounders, purple-blossomed beach peas and wax myrtle blooms are just a few of the stars in this ever-changing 'coast of characters.' But Safina’s descriptions are not restricted to Long Island. During the course of the year he journeys to Alaska and Svalbard, Palau and Antarctica, and his reflections at home and abroad range from the sand at his feet to the planet as a whole. Wherever he is, Safina conveys an accumulation of scientific data and analysis in poetic prose."—National Geographic Traveler
"Literate wanderings in a tormented world full of wounds, led by accomplished traveler, writer and Blue Ocean Institute founder Safina ... [Lazy Point] enfolds two contradictory impulses: the one to stay home and tend to one’s garden, and the other to travel the planet and chronicle all the damage we’re doing to it. Safina manages to strike a balance.... [He] combines solid science and excellent storytelling. A superb work of environmental reportage and reflection."—Kirkus (Starred Review)
"The environment's glass is half-full for lyrical conservationist Safina.... An optimism suffuses this sensible and sensitive book."—PW
"With his grand sense of adventure, eye for beauty, heart for mercy and high hopes to shake us from our complacency, Safina seems a godsend among modern-day prophets. His is a voice worth listening to, and I hope his song hits the top of the charts. People, animals and ways of life are dying all over the world, and some of us really do care."—Alice Evans, The Portland Oregonian
"Safina has a natural ebullience. . . . He relies on beauty for his faith and finds that there is plenty of it."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Newsday
"Carl Safina’s qualifications as a naturalist, marine biologist, and part-time resident make him the ideal interpreter of The View from Lazy Point, which includes broad prospects of Cartwright Shoals, Gardiner’s Island, and Napeague Bay and also the great variety of wildlife in these coastal and marine habitats; another qualification, of course, is the high quality of his prose, which makes all this fascinating information such a great pleasure to read."—Peter Matthiessen, author of Shadow Country
“What a marvelously large-handed, energetic, omnivorous book! One can swim at so many levels in its comprehensive inventiveness.”—Ted Hoagland, author of Early in the Season
“Carl has written a true masterpiece. The writing is both powerful and poetic, the observations so keen and telling as to shed new light on so many subjects: conservation, ethics, politics, economics, and, well, life. Lazy Point just might become the 21st century's Walden Pond.”—Gary Soucie, former editor of Audubon Magazine
“For Carl Safina—and for us—Lazy Point, a resuscitated shack on a lonely beach at the eastern end of Long Island, is the center of the natural world, and the point from which he travels, literally and figuratively, to the ends of the earth. With Safina as our articulate and sensitive guide, we visit the coral reefs of Belize, the brown bears of Southeast Alaska and the white bears of Svalbard, the fisheries of Micronesia, and the penguin colonies of King George Island, Antarctica. Written by a brilliant stylist and deeply concerned conservationist, this book brings into sharp (and often painful) focus the plight of wildlife in a world largely indifferent to the fate of our fellow travelers on Spaceship Earth. Alive with fresh ideas to help bring our species in sync with the natural world.”—Richard Ellis, author of The Empty Ocean and Tuna: A Love Story