New York City’s High Line Park. Nature is everywhere, if you know where to look.
Nic GarciaNew York City’s High Line Park. Nature is everywhere, if you know where to look.

What’s more ecologically valuable — national parks, or median strips and vacant lots? Could dreaded invasive species actually be more beneficial than native ones? Are environmentalists clinging to a timeless notion of nature that science has thoroughly discredited? Can we actually make nature better than it is in its “natural” state?

Emma Marris asks these and other icon-busting questions her new book Rambunctious Garden — potentially the most optimistic and controversial work about the future of nature to appear in years. Marris, a former correspondent for Nature magazine, takes big issue with enviro doom-and-gloomers and last-great-places conservationists, arguing in Rambunctious Garden that pristine wildness has been a myth for at least 13,000 years and that we live on a thoroughly domesticated planet whose nature it’s up to us to manage … and even improve upon. It sounded so heretical that I had to call her up and ask her to explain.