For Earth Day: New Books about our Planet
| Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery by Steve Nicholls
Hardcover $30 University of Chicago Press
The first Europeans to set foot on North America stood in awe of the natural abundance before them. The skies were filled with birds, seas and rivers teemed with fish, and the forests and grasslands were a hunter’s dream, with populations of game too abundant and diverse to even fathom. It’s no wonder these first settlers thought they had discovered a paradise of sorts. Fortunately for us, they left a legacy of copious records documenting what they saw, and these observations make it possible to craft a far more detailed evocation of North America before its settlement than any other place on the planet.
Here Steve Nicholls brings this spectacular environment back to vivid life, demonstrating with both historical narrative and scientific inquiry just what an amazing place North America was and how it looked when the explorers first found it.
| Climate Change: Picturing the Science by Gavin Schmidt & Joshua Wolfe, Foreword by Jeffrey D. Sachs
Paper $24.95 W.W. Norton & Company
An unprecedented union of scientific analysis and stunning photography, this work illustrates the effects of climate change on the global ecosystem.
|The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability by James Gustave Speth
Paper $18 Yale University Press
How serious are the threats to our environment? Here is one measure of the problem: if we continue to do exactly what we are doing, with “no” growth in the human population or the world economy, the world in the latter part of this century will be unfit to live in. Of course human activities are not holding at current levels–they are accelerating, dramatically–and so, too, is the pace of climate disruption, biotic impoverishment, and toxification. In this book Gus Speth, author of “Red Sky at Morning” and a widely respected environmentalist, begins with the observation that the environmental community has grown in strength and sophistication, but the environment has continued to decline, to the point that we are now at the edge of catastrophe. Speth contends that this situation is a severe indictment of the economic and political system we call modern capitalism. Our vital task is now to change the operating instructions for today’s destructive world economy before it is too late. The book is about how to do that.
| Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict Between Global Conservation and Native Peoples by Mark Dowie
Hardcover $27.95 MIT Press
How native peoples–from the Miwoks of Yosemite to the Maasai of eastern Africa–have been displaced from their lands in the name of conservation.
“Mark Dowie is one of the finest investigative journalists we have, and his talent has rarely been on better display than in this book. And not just because he has gone to all corners of the Earth to get his raw material. More than that, in typical Dowie fashion, he upends his readers’ expectations about who’s the good guy and who’s the villain, and is not afraid to step on toes that more timid or conventional writers would avoid. He makes us rethink our usual one-size-fits-all assumptions about environmentalism, and in the process tells some moving and fascinating human stories.”
—Adam Hochschild, Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, author of The Mirror at Midnight: a South African Journey, and co-founder of Mother Jones Magazine
| Hijacking Sustainability by Adrian Parr
Hardcover $24.95 MIT Press
How the sustainability movement has been co-opted: from ecobranding by Wal-Mart to the “greening” of the American military.
“None of us can afford to ignore sustainability today since the very life of the planet is at stake. And yet it is easy to forget that sustainability is a political problem and a cultural problem too. Hijacking Sustainability is a timely reminder that sustainability is not something we should leave to the market to sort out. Parr makes clear that sustainability is a matter for which we all have to take responsibility and that to do that we have to wake up to what’s really going on. Critical theory can scarcely have hoped for a more important book.”
—Ian Buchanan, Professor of Critical and Cultural Theory, Cardiff University
| Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning by George Monbiot
Paper $18 South End Press
“If you care about the future of the planet, you should read “Heat,” and then give a copy to a friend.”-Elizabeth Kolbert
“A dazzling command of science and a relentless faith in people.”-Naomi Klein
Entry filed under: Buyer's Picks.