Melanie Challenger is the author of an award-winning first collection of poems and co-author of Stolen Voices, a history of twentieth century conflict compiled through war diaries. She has received a British Council Darwin Award for her work. Challenger is appalled at the long and bloated history of belief "in the civilized superiority of humankind and of the intrinsic enhancement of our species." The result has been the extinction of a growing number of species. The welfare of plants and animals is not in good hands given the human propensity to think only of our own advancement and pleasure.

One of the reasons we are unmoved by the loss of species is our estrangement from nature. Challenger agrees with George Perkins Marsh who has observed: "Man is everywhere a disturbing agent . . . wherever he plants his foot, the harmonies of nature are turned to discords." She finds ample evidence of this repugnant attitude in her travels to South Georgia's old whaling stations and to an Inuit community in Canada. Challenger is worried about the blue whale and the albatross. One senses her heartfelt feelings for the loss of these creatures and the continued destruction of the environments in which they live.

Reading this lament, we yearn for a revival of the spiritual practice of reverence as incarnated by Albert Schweitzer. It may be the one spiritual practice that can make a difference in the battle against our growing alienation from the natural world.