The Earth Only Endures: On Reconnecting with Nature and our Place in it

  • The Earth Only Endures book coverPublisher: Earthscan
  • First published: 2007
  • ISBN: 978-1-84407-432-7

For most of human history, we have lived our daily lives in a close relationship with the land. Yet now, for the first time, more people are living in urban rather than rural areas, bringing about an estrangement. This book, by acclaimed author Jules Pretty, is about our relationship with nature, animals and places. A series of interlinked essays leads readers on a voyage that weaves through the themes of connection and estrangement between humans and nature. The journey shows how our modern lifestyles and economies would need six or eight Earths if the entire world’s population adopted our profligate ways. Jules Pretty shows that we are rendering our own world inhospitable and so risk losing what it means to be human: unless we make substantial changes, Gaia threatens to become Grendel. Ultimately, however, the book offers glimpses of an optimistic future for humanity, in the very face of climate change and pending global environmental catastrophe.



“A blend of clear-eyed science and poetic eloquence, The Earth Only Endures follows in the tradition of Jared Diamond and E.O. Wilson. Jules Pretty, too, is hopeful, but on the condition that we understand the nature of the self imposed threats to our future and the rational basis for human survival. To say that this is essential reading is like saying that a compass is essential to navigation.”
David W. Orr, author of Design on the Edge

“Jules Pretty’s remarkable new book is both universal and parochial by turn, and beautifully written. It is a philosophical inventory of what we have recently learned to our cost of today’s globe.”
Ronald Blythe, author of Akenfield

“The essays in this book are the product of a rigorous, searching, synthesising mind. Jules Pretty, who has done more than anyone to help us understand the possibilities of agriculture on this planet, now turns his gaze wider, in a highly fruitful and provocative attempt to get at the heart of the first civilisation-scale challenge humans have faced. A very powerful and very compelling book.”
Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

“The Earth Only Endures is an exemplary blending of passion and rigour. Absolute where it needs to be, always subtle, often beautiful, and ranging exceptionally widely within space, and deeply within time, it could only have been written by someone with Pretty’s expertises, both of library and of the field.”
Robert Macfarlane, author of Mountains of the Mind and The Wild Places