By Diane Donovan – Senior Reviewer – Midwest Book Reviews
Book covers usually aren’t mentioned in reviews, but the exceptional cover of Feasible Living: Dealing with Ecological Anxiety While Adapting to Our Changing World both reinforces the title and catches the eye. A sexy, long-haired sunbather sitting in a beach chair receives more than a second glance because of she sports a gas mask with a cityscape in flames in the background and parched earth all around her.
Threats to the ecosystem and books about them abound, but
Ken Kroes narrows his focus to a psychological syndrome called ‘ecological anxiety’ in response to news and research about the disintegrating ecosystem and its immediate and future impact on mankind.
This emphasis creates a different perspective as Kroes provides chapters on climate change; pollution affecting water, air, and land; the loss of biodiversity; and the social, economic, political, and health challenges these represent which lead to ecological anxiety, another detrimental side-effect of acknowledging impending environmental disasters.
Unlike other books on ecological degradation, Kroes provides many ‘can-do’ solutions specific to these conditions in general and this anxiety in particular, from considering ecological anxiety’s incarnation in specific age groups to formulating plans for redefining success and applying ecological anxiety to ecological solutions.
Discussions pinpoint research and add insights into conditions and situations which should be of concern versus those which are ‘optional’ and require refining thinking and understanding, as with the problems of glyphosates: “The jury on the health impact of glyphosate is still out. Though many studies show that it can be harmful, it has also been used for decades in North America and there have been no dramatic increases in health problems that have been directly attributed to it. The decision is up to you if you want to be concerned about this or not, but my opinion is why take the unnecessary risk? If you are concerned about your current or past exposure to glyphosate and other chemicals, do an internet search for home test kits for your food or other tests that are available for you. One key point to note is that it is not the GMO that is dangerous, but the pesticides that can be applied to the GMO.”
As much as there is a wealth of threats to human health and safety and planetary ecosystems, there are also many tools that individuals can use to understand, assess, and fact-check media representations, lending hope and logic to situations and alleviating some of the ecological anxiety factors: “With fake news being prominent in our world today and with the outlook that it will only get worse, what can you do to protect yourself from it and handle the ecological anxiety that it feeds? To avoid fake news, you must first learn to identify it. Some fact-free broadcasts are very well-done and hard to detect, but most can be easily identified if you know what to look for. A few pointers are given below, but also consider taking one of the many free online classes on how to identify fake news such as one put out by the University of Michigan or the University of Texas. An internet search for “online class fake news identification” will turn up these and several other options.”
As readers survey these problems, the latest research, psychological reactions to ecological threats, and many different solutions, they receive the kinds of tools and information necessary to support critical thinking and more logical, proactive courses of understanding and reaction.
Herein lies the true value of Feasible Living. It’s not another doomsday prediction, but outlines a blueprint for better living in a changing world, documenting concrete strategies readers can take to change their perceptions, reactions, possibilities, and, ultimately, some of the course of nature itself.
Packed with footnoted research and references, a diverse bibliography, and charts and notes, Feasible Living fills the gap between a call to action and changing one’s perceptions, attitudes, and possibilities to build a better life.
It’s a top recommendation for social issues, environmental issues, and psychology or self-help readers alike and is a much-needed offering of hope at a critical time in human and planetary history.