Book club: ‘What has nature ever done for us?” by Tony Juniper

‘A life-belt for the planet. Read this book and change the world.’

Deforestation is a classic example of short-term profits being placed above the much more valuable ecosystem services provided by forests

To kick-off the New Year, we are starting off with a book club review with a twist. For the first time ever, this month’s featured book is not primarily ocean themed at all. Instead Tony Juniper’s ‘What has nature ever done for us?’ focuses on the financial value of natural systems and why it is important to start incorporating their value into our economies, to ensure their continued value to us all. Written in 2013, his book is more relevant than ever and highlights how imminent changes in the ways we make money and treat our planet are needed to avoid an ecological collapse. If there was one book everyone should read in 2021, it is this one.

Soil contains a multitude of multi-cellular life that stores carbon and allows us to grow food, but soil erosion is a major problem few people are aware of

A majority of this fantastic book is spent explaining the role of natural systems in our lives and providing evidence of how much money they are really worth to us. Chapters focus on the value of soil, plants, pollinators, biodiversity, coastal protection, fish, green spaces, oceans and many more essential components to life on our planet. Combining scientific evidence, personal experiences and interviews with leading experts, Juniper brings this vast array of topics to life and explains their value in an easy to understand way. The addition of countless mind-blowing statistics also hammer home the importance of these natural systems and the urgency with which we should be fighting to save them.

The main concept of this book is how the values of these natural systems can and should be incorporated into the economic model that has led to their degradation. We are constantly reminded that the Earth is a closed system and that we are unsustainably and rapidly using up its resources. However, rather than leaving you to revel in this depressive realisation Juniper offers up hope for how we can change our ways. Concluding that if we can incorporate natural capital into our short-sighted and profit-driven economic model we can create a system that benefits everyone and allows us to co-exist with nature rather than exploit it.

Mangroves play a crucial role in limiting the damage caused by storms and tsunamis, but they are decreasing by a rate of 8% per year

Overall, ‘What has nature ever done for us?’ is a great read and provides a fascinating insight into one of the most important topics today. It is one of those rare books that has the capacity to completely change your outlook on life.


This review is the eleventh in our new Marine Madness Book Club! At the beginning of every month we will be releasing a new review of an ocean inspired book and encouraging you to let us know what you think in the comments and via social media. To find out more visit the Book Club page here.

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