Mahood Kings of a Lonely Kingdom 3

Kings Of A Lonely Kingdom By David Mahood: A Book Review

Just in time for Earth Day, I read Kings of a Lonely Kingdom by David Mahood, a compilation of the author’s Earth Day Essays, Poems, and Musings on Nature.

Nature and ecology author David Mahood shares ten years of his thoughts, in the form of essays and poetry, about Earth Day, about the way humanity reshaped the landscape to cause climate change and loss of biodiversity, but also about things we do to protect our planet.

Even before I opened the book, I appreciated the author’s commitment to sustainability. Using Ecoenclose for packaging, the book was “print on demand”, to reduce waste and greenhouse emissions. Taking it one step closer, the paper suppliers were “asked to be environmentally responsible, and not use papers sources from endangered old-growth forests, forests of exceptional conservation value, or the Amazon Basin.”

I knew I would learn from Mahood.

From the first pages, and throughout the book, I felt the author’s passion for preserving nature and biodiversity, and his concern for climate change. And while highlighting all the issues we need to address, he offers hope, offers solutions.

Besides sharing his musings and thoughts, Mahood writes about his experiences as a sustainability consultant and environmentalist, and things he learned during this time.

Why We Should Care About Earth Day

Through ten years of Earth Day essays, original poetry, and related sentiments, Mahood reflects on the origins and importance of the day.

He starts the book with his own childhood thoughts about Earth Day, including a booklet he wrote as a nine-year-old, and ends it with thoughts of today’s children and young people about the days’ importance.

Framed within the thoughts and feelings of children and youth, he reflects on the state of our planet, of the successes and failures of the environmental movement through half a century of celebrating Earth Day.

Mahood brings attention to the effects of climate change and loss of biodiversity, while sharing examples of a natural world we need to protect and better care for. Weaving personal stories and facts throughout the book, he expresses his concern about our environment, while also offering ideas to help.

Besides highlighting all the issues we need to tackle for a healthy planet, Kings of a Lonely Kingdom offers hope. As late as it is, we can still help if every one of us does the right thing. We can still save our planet and make it a healthy habitat for all species.

Ten Years of Earth Day Musings

The book offers a collection of ten years of the author’s Earth Day reflections. Each year, between 2010 and 2020, Mahood focused on specific issues that affect our planet, problems we caused and continue to cause, but need to and still can, fix.

He started writing these reflections 40 years after the first Earth Day. 40 years of environmental movement became 50, and now the movement is in its 52nd year. And while it has grown, it has gained more supporters, the environmental movement is still fighting. Fighting to be heard and to be taken seriously enough for everyone to do the right thing, to fix what we have broken.

And yet, I appreciate the fact that he doesn’t leave us with a hopeless feeling. Instead, when we close the book, and even while reading it, Mahood inspires us to act. Throughout the book, he offers ideas, ways to help, organizations to support. By highlighting the work of several people and organizations, we gain a perspective of not only things that are going wrong but also those that are going in the right direction.

The Origins of Earth Day

While I read about the origins of Earth Day before, the book offered a more in-depth understanding of it. Every year, we celebrate Earth Day, and it all started on April 22nd, in 1970.

I was three years old in 1970. Most of the generation who are still fighting for environmental conservation weren’t born yet. And after all this time, we are still struggling to address the same issues Earth Day started half a century ago.

As I learned from Mahood’s book, by the first Earth Day, scientists already knew about climate change. They were already trying to work with the government to implement policies that would address energy policies and climate change. They warned about the dangers of the direction we were heading even before 1970.

It took the right person in the government to implement a few things, to start a movement. The first Earth Day was a tremendous success, and the movement has grown since. But, while he talks about the first Earth Day and its merits, the author also acknowledges its shortcomings; He mentions catastrophes we could have averted since; He talks about the dire state of our environment today.

Reflecting on the Endangered Species Act

Mahood also focuses on the need to protect other species. He dedicates a whole chapter to the problem of protecting wolves, one of the issues that resonates with me the most.

I also often thought about the way we, humans, think of wolves, questioning the reasons of depicting wolves as the enemy, even in children’s stories. This is something Mahood also touches upon. “From childhood we were taught to be afraid of the big bad wolf”, he says.

But mostly, he reminds us that we need wolves. “Naturalists, foresters, ecologists all recognize how important a predator like the wolf is to maintain a precious balance between herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores.” Still, people hunted them to near extinction in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Endangered Species Act saved them. But the fight is still on for their survival.

A few years later, Mahood focuses on the problem of monarch butterflies disappearing. Again, another issue I’ve been aware of. He explains the problem in depth, including its connection to agriculture, to our need to eradicate “weed”. Or what most people consider weed. Which includes milkweed, the only plant monarchs need to survive as a species.

Humans Hurting Other Species

Though he dedicates an entire chapter to each of these two species, Mahood also talks about the problem in general, with examples from all animals. We read about how we hurt all species, both on land, and in the ocean. From elephants to whales, and every other species in between, we are causing mass extinction, and we need to stop.

We are so self-centered, we worry about how many humans can inhabit the planet, instead of “how we preserve biodiversity and maintain ecological balance for all species.” He talks about the pandemic of 2020 and what we should learn from it.

Everything we do, every progress we make, is self-centered; we don’t take other species in consideration. And while reading about this all, I also learned something I never knew: we even hurt the environment with our electronics. Mining coltan, a mineral used in cell phones and computers, disrupts the habitat of gorillas.

And that is only one of many examples of how we, by everyday activities, disrupt the lives of other species, without even a thought. And this is besides the most obvious, slaughtering other species for not only food but something as frivolous as fashion.

He also talks about us disrupting the lives of species living not only on land but also in our oceans.

Climate Change and Superstorms

Climate change causes more and more superstorms, and in his book, Mahood gets personal when he talks about one that affected his family: Superstorm Sandy. Since he lives in New Jersey, he experienced it first-hand. And then, he puts it in a larger perspective. Storms like that happen more often and are more intense as the years go by. And we cause this, with our neglect that went on for generations.

But, although Mahood acknowledges that climate change may not be reversible, we can still help limit its devastation if we all act together.

Climate Activists, Organizations and Hope for the Future

While pointing out everything we need to fix to get back to a healthy planet, Mahood highlights activists and organizations that offer hope. We learn about outstanding people who care so deeply about the environment, they don’t hesitate to put their own lives on the line.

We also learn about organizations we can join if we want to get involved.

Offering personal examples throughout the book, Mahood also gives us ideas of how we can make an impact with each of our actions. He doesn’t preach though. Instead, he mentions, on passing, things he does, that every one of us can.

Final Thoughts

While I knew most of the facts in the book, reading it brought all the issues once again into the forefront. I also learned facts I didn’t know about conservation, about people who are trying to help our planet, and about organizations I never heard of before that I can support.

Climate change and its devastating effects are something I have been aware of for a long time. My family and I try our best to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible, under the circumstances. And every year, we try something new. But often I feel it’s not enough. I am not an activist. I am not even an environmental writer.

The thoughts and feelings Mahood expresses in Kings of a Lonely Kingdom are also my own. Still, I learned a lot from it. Not only the fact that I’m not alone, there are many of us who care. I also learned more about those of us who do something much more than us, who don’t sit on the sidelines.

The book is inspiring mostly because it offers hope and ideas to support those who do more. My child wants to be a wildlife conservationist. The other day, she told she was afraid that by the time she is an adult there won’t be any wildlife left to help. Since I was just reading Kings of a Lonely Kingdom, I could tell her about all the people who are working towards the same goal. I believe we will make it. As long as we all do our part.

If you want to be inspired, and learn about sustainability and our environment, you can order Kings of a Lonely Kingdom through the author’s website, from an independent publisher.

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