THIS BOOK, written fifty years ago, was among the first calls for a new system of values to govern the relationship between humanity and our planet. It has at least two claims on our attention. First, it contains a passionate and reasoned plea for the rights of non-human life. Second, Patrick Duncan proposes a new ethic which might enable fractious humanity to come together and help save the world from disaster.
His biography was written by C.J.Driver Patrick Duncan: South African and Pan-African. James Currey (2000).
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|Man and the Earth is being republished fifty years on, because of its continuing relevance to some of the greatest global public policy challenges of the 21st century: the impact of humanity on our environment (climate change, biodiversity loss, etc.), and inequality of opportunity. The book makes exhilarating reading when Duncan describes the beauty of the world and human creativity. He does not flinch when reacting against the destructive side of humanity, and his anger and disgust are reminiscent of Swift. This is deeply personal, and many readers will disagree with some of his analyses. They will also be surprised, charmed, and moved.
... This book suggests an ethical approach which might serve to unite humanity ... I hope it will be read by all those who believe that the present philosophy of maximisation must be replaced by a new concept of high-quality human living ...
Dr. George Monbiot, Writer and Journalist at The Guardian
This is a remarkably prescient book. Written at a time when technological optimism appeared to sweep all before it,
Man and the Earth identifies some of the great themes that later came to dominate.
Cormac Cullinan, environmental activist, lawyer and author of Wild Law
Man and the Earth is a book for the 21st Century which explains with great clarity why humanity cannot prosper unless we unite behind a common ethic centred on what is of greatest value to us all – Earth. The clarity, breadth and foresight of Patrick Duncan’s analysis and proposals for a way forward are all the more extraordinary for having been written in the 1960s. With the benefit of half of century of hindsight his discussions of ideology, population increase, global warming, the depletion of the ozone layer, the destruction of wild places, and the extinction of species seem prophetic. Yet global society is only now beginning to explore the solutions that he proposed. Only in the last few decades have serious attempts been made to determine the “budgets” that he proposed for establishing the ecologically sustainable limits of human impacts. Even more recent is the emergence of a global movement that advance his insight that it is essential to embrace the establishment of a balance and harmony between humanity and rest of the community of life as the purpose of life, and that achieving this requires fostering our inherent love of Earth. The fate of most, even all, of humanity will be decided during the first half of this Century. One of the best ways of enhancing our prospects is to read and act on Duncan’s insights. The Duncan family deserve credit for republishing a book that was so ahead of its time, now, when its time has come.
Satish Kumar, Editor-in-Chief, Resurgence & Ecologist magazine and Founder, Schumacher College
Patrick Duncan was a prophet ahead of his time. His seminal book, Man and the Earth is at once visionary, profound and practical. Patrick Duncan reminds us again and again that we mistreat our planet home at our peril. Man and the Earth is a lucid engaging read, wisdom and deep insight leaps out of every page. The essential message of the book is very simple and clear; take care of the earth and the earth will take care of you. Furthermore, Patrick Duncan makes it clear that nature is not merely a resource for our economy, nature is the source of life. Even though the book was written 50 years ago, it is as relevant today as it was then.