BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER AND AUTHOR OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND
I was intrigued when I received a press release about David C. Mahood’s new book, Kings of a Lonely Kingdom: Earth Day Essays, Poems, and Musings on Nature (ISBN 978-0-9994876-2-4, 2021, 208 pages, $19, plus shipping). For 10 years on Earth Day, Mahood—a sustainability consultant, environment writer, poet, and the principal of Olive Designs, LLC—published an essay that focused on a particular environmental issue (such as biodiversity, habitat loss, and climate change). This book collects these essays.
After reading many of the essays, I’m glad I requested a review copy. Mahood’s essays reveal an intellectually nimble writer who cares deeply about the natural world and the grievous damage humans inflict on it daily. But Kings of a Lonely Kingdom is not a relentless litany of environmental destruction. Mahood leavens his moral outrage at this environmental damage with witty asides; stories about beloved family members and friends (and their interactions with nature); philosophical jaunts; analysis and anecdotes from environmental professionals; and a chapter that includes an appreciation of Bruce Springsteen (one of my favorite musical artists). The book also includes an Earth Day booklet that Mahood wrote in 1972 when he was nine years old.
For those who may not be up to speed regarding the wide range of environmental indignities being foisted upon our beautiful and ecologically diverse Earth by corporations, many Republican politicians, and others, Kings of a Lonely Kingdom provides a history lesson and environmental primer that may turn previously milquetoast people into environmental justice warriors—if there’s any justice in the world. I also like the fact that Mahood provides solutions to our environmental woes rather than just creating a laundry list of environmental problems.
Buy this book. It will captivate and educate you, and it may possibly encourage you to take action (or more action) to protect the only place we have to live—Planet Earth.
I had the opportunity to discuss Kings of a Lonely Kingdom with David Mahood. Here’s the interview.
Q. Can you please tell me about Kings of a Lonely Kingdom?
A. My latest book is a compilation of 10 years of Earth Day essays, original poems, and thoughts on a range of issues concerning the health of the planet, its many species, and the road ahead. Curiously enough, it also contains excerpts from an Earth Day booklet I wrote in my youth back in 1972. The plights of penguins and pachyderms, whales and wolves, minks and monarchs, and the struggle for clean energy and environmental justice are topics woven into Kings of a Lonely Kingdom.
Q. What were your goals in writing the book?
A. Having dedicated many years to environmental education and activism, I hoped I could compel others to get a clearer picture of what is happening, what can happen, and what we all can do to fight for the outcome we want. Additionally, I wanted to offer a voice for other species who have none in the fight, and for others whose voices have been unjustly silenced. We risk losing a lot when we care too little. That, in itself, describes the environment movement.
Q. What do you like to do in the outdoors, and what are some of your most beloved nature destinations?
A. Oh, heck, being outside on a sunny day of 70 degrees is a gift anywhere for me. I love that time right before dusk when the backyard birds are actively feeding. Their flashes of color remind me that we share this experience with so many other wondrous creatures. I am more of a hiker than surfer so America’s mountains and boreal forests are favorites of mine. The Rockies hold a special place in my being. I owe a visit to Chicago, where I was born, so I look forward to learning more about the natural areas within the city.
Q. What is one emerging (or under-reported) environmental issue that the average person is unaware of, and what steps must be taken to address it?
A. As I write in the book, we are at risk of losing close to half of all other species in our lifetimes. That, to me, is a fundamental failure in how we have designed our societies and shared our habitat. The tale of wolves in America, which I cover in one chapter, exposes the unhealthy outcome of policies impacted by emotions like fear. Losing a fellow species is so finite. We may find that our pursuit of industrialization is a lonely victory in the end. It upsets me that future generations may never get the chance to enjoy the same wonderment of nature that we have experienced. Notwithstanding the fact that losing biodiversity is a precursor to perilous days ahead.
Q. In worst- and best-case scenarios (regarding the environment), what type of Earth Day essay do you think you’ll write in 2042?
A. Ha, I hope to make it into my eighth decade, first. Perhaps a little hopeful prognostication for 2042? But I would write an essay about how caring occupants of Earth in the spirit of collaboration, forcefully coaxed by the youngest of them, have begun to take the appropriate measures to forge a sustainable ecological balance for future generations. Further, that by using the bountiful energy of renewable sun, air, and water, we still get to experience the treasures of a clear stream along a wooded forest and witness the countless creatures that provide a healthy kaleidoscope of nature’s colors. That is what I hope to write when I am 80.
In the worst-case scenario, I would write that we are now experimenting with drastic and radical ideas to prevent the ongoing decline of a once proud race of people. The inexplicable tardiness in preserving our one colonized planet has forced an unstable world to adopt more rigid survival techniques. And that the realities of an inequitable world economy prove disastrous to developing nations. If I write that, I must accept that I failed too.
Click here to purchase a copy of Kings of a Lonely Kingdom: Earth Day Essays, Poems, and Musings on Nature. Per Mahood’s website, “All sales are handled by Copper Dog Books in Beverly, Massachusetts. Please note: new book costs are the same as Amazon and support the author’s local indie bookstore.” Mahood is also the author of One Green Deed Spawns Another: Tales of Inspiration on the Quest for Sustainability, a book that chronicles his 20-year path to environmental activism.
Copyright (interview text and photographs) David Mahood
Copyright (opening text/book review) Andrew Morkes
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ABOUT ANDREW MORKES
I have been a writer and editor for more than 25 years. I’m the founder of College & Career Press (2002); the editorial director of the CAM Report career newsletter and College Spotlight newsletter; the author and publisher of “The Morkes Report: College and Career Planning Trends” blog; and the author and publisher of Hot Health Care Careers: 30 Occupations With Fast Growth and Many New Job Openings; Nontraditional Careers for Women and Men: More Than 30 Great Jobs for Women and Men With Apprenticeships Through PhDs; They Teach That in College!?: A Resource Guide to More Than 100 Interesting College Majors, which was selected as one of the best books of the year by the library journal Voice of Youth Advocates; and other titles. They Teach That in College!? provides more information on environmental- and sustainability-related majors such as Ecotourism, Range Management, Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Built Environment, Sustainability Studies, and Sustainable Agriculture/Organic Farming. I’m also a member of the parent advisory board at my son’s school. Stories about my work have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Southtown, Beverly Review, and Practical Homeschooling.
In addition to these publications, I’ve written more than 40 books about careers for other publishing and media companies including Infobase (such as the venerable Encyclopedia of Careers & Vocational Guidance, the Vault Career Guide to Accounting, and many volumes in the Careers in Focus, Discovering Careers, What Can I Do Now?!, and Career Skills Library series) and Mason Crest (including those in the Careers in the Building Trades and Cool Careers in Science series).
My poetry has appeared in Cadence, Wisconsin Review, Poetry Motel, Strong Coffee, and Mid-America Review.