Planet 234

Jon Gower
Why Rebel?
by Jay Griffiths

by Jay Griffiths

Penguin, £7.99

This is as timely and urgent as writing gets, a collection of essays which rail against what our unwise species has done to the world as the time to make the necessary corrections diminishes to decades. Jay Griffiths always writes like a force of nature, but here she forcibly defends nature by underlining the interdependencies between ourselves and the creatures with which we share this threatened planet. As she makes her case she has to reach for a new lexicon of words to chart the decline in species, such as ‘defaunation’ or the saddest neologism of them all – ‘endling’ – the very last individual of a particular species. Think of the Great Auk and then add to the list­ – it can swiftly end up looking like ticker tape. Monarch butterflies. Orangutans. Blue fin tuna. One of Griffiths’ favourite words is ‘quickening’, which captures the charge of life, such as that found in a coral reef where ‘angelfish look as if they invented iridescence, their fins trailing the glory of it’ or the ‘blue and yellow of the sugeonfish’ which ‘is like laughter across the reef’. But the coral is in trouble, as are the wider seas, the blue world turning into a dead sump.

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