Reviewed by J. Baker –
Solving our environmental problems is proving complicated, not only because we don’t know what to do, but because our journey to solutions requires that we confront huge technological challenges as well as our individual and collective human character. This complexity becomes obvious when reading The EcoTrilogy. As a weekly environmental columnist, having written more than 750 pieces over 16 years, Ray Grigg has developed a sense of perspective on a situation that will tax humanity’s intelligence and resolve.
This challenge is implicitly evident in The EcoTrilogy, partly because of the breadth of subjects he explores – mostly philosophical in Ecologos, mostly psychological in Ecopathy, and mostly biophysical in Ecocide – and partly because he makes almost no recommendations about how we are to solve our environmental problems. The position he seems to take is that by raising our level of consciousness, we will be able to make the necessary changes in our human character that will then guide the direction of science and technology toward solutions. The EcoTrilogy certainly helps in this regard because two of the three volumes explore the philosophical and psychological aspects of the problem.
But this approach is a little disquieting, perhaps because it shifts responsibility from the writer to the reader. Grigg doesn’t tell us directly what to do, but he certainly makes it clear that we have work ahead of us, and much of this work is about reaching a deeper understanding of who we are as individuals and as a species, what are our values, and how we consequently behave. The uncomfortable reality is that our environmental problems are essentially an extension of who we are.
This is what we might expect of Grigg, given his seven previous books on Eastern philosophy. These books on Zen and Taoism are essentially about increasing awareness and the benefits that will accrue from this exercise. What we get from life, individually and collectively, is the result of the effort we expend and the awareness we cultivate. The EcoTrilogy certainly gives us lots to think about. It’s a rich source of information about the inner and outer dynamics operating in these troubling times.
The 64 chapters per book are informative and carefully footnoted for additional reading, but the collective effect is to underscore the complexity of our environmental challenge. In this regard, The EcoTrilogy is a realistic assessment of our situation, neither hopefully optimistic nor ominously pessimistic. The message in the books is implicitly clear—we are racing against time with very little margin for error.
The EcoTrilogy is available from the author at www.raygrigg.com or at bookstores in Campbell River, Comox Valley, and Quadra Island.