The connected ingredients for survival

A collection of images that urges greater care for the basic elements

The photographs in this book affect me viscerally: stunning scenes of the natural world that evoke grunts of appreciation from my gut. A smattering of microscopic images makes visible unseen creatures and bacteria. And several paintings extend the visual sweep.

Steeped in science, the text works hard to help viewers see beyond colored ink on the page, explaining, for instance, how oxygen came to be. Pictures, captions, and quotations meld, giving credence to the book's thesis: the interconnectedness of all life.

Some chapters are devoted to the universal building blocks: earth, water, air, and fire. Other sections illuminate ingredients the authors deem necessary for thriving: biodiversity, love, and spirit.

In the chapter on earth, vibrant moss and lichen on a rock appear to grow on the printed page. In "air," hundreds of blurred Monarch butterflies against a blue sky symbolize the delicacy of the thin film of atmosphere that wraps Earth. Images of closeness and connection, such as a polar bear with her cubs and children in a Moroccan village, dot the "love" section. Whether it's a reverential human dwarfed by giant trees, sacred ocean rocks joined by rope, or scarved women in prayer, the pages of "spirit" shine with devotion.

Connection begets comfort, and through awareness of this connection, the authors hope that we choicemaking humans will stop altering the sacred balance of life and work to preserve our precious earth, water, and air.

John Nordell is a Monitor staff photographer.

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