May/June 2018 • Vol. XL No. 3 Nature's (Human) Nature |

Introduction: Nature’s (Human) Nature

It's July 30, 2017, as I start taking notes for the present introduction to "Nature's (Human) Nature." It is December 1, 2017, when I finish. Four months. During this time, with more than 350 thousand births each day, according to the US Census Bureau, and about half as many deaths, we have added twenty-eight million human beings, give or take, to our gasping planet. That's about eighty-four million people in the past year. By another count we have added, in the one year since our last "Nature's Nature" feature, between seventy-five million and eighty-five million more of us. In fact, I have compared many sources—from the World Bank to Wikipedia, the US Census Bureau to the United Nations—and while no statistic is quite the same as another, the ballpark average is sufficient for my purposes here. Let's add another fact. The United Nations reports that more than 55 percent of the current human global population now lives in urban areas. Once upon a time we emerged from the wa

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David Baker is the author or editor of many books of poetry and criticism. His latest collection of poems, Whale Fall, was published by W. W. Norton in July 2022. Baker taught at Kenyon 1983–84 and began a long association with The Kenyon Review then, including service for more than twenty-five years as poetry editor. He continues to curate the magazine’s annual environmental feature, “Nature’s Nature.” Baker is emeritus professor of English at Denison University, in Granville, Ohio, where he offers two classes each spring semester.

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