Foreword Reviews

A World In Danger

Books on Climate Change from Winter 2016

Climate Change

Species disappearing, modified ecosystems, the ecological impact of our pursuit of energy: these books offer a sobering view of how drastically human beings have impacted our fragile planet. So, too, do they offer a way forward, though–via preferencing sustainability with natural resources and creativity with low-impact ways of being. Be awakened and inspired.

The Annihilation of Nature

Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals

Book Cover
Gerardo Ceballos
Anne H. Ehrlich
Paul R. Ehrlich
Johns Hopkins University Press
Hardcover $29.95 (208pp)
978-1-4214-1718-9
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Troubling statistics about the number of animal species lost every year have become sadly commonplace, and The Annihilation of Nature blends words and pictures in a moving account of this sixth mass extinction. The authors explain some of the ways people are driving other animal populations into crisis, and discuss how iconic species like the lion, chimpanzee, and rhinoceros have become endangered. They also recount the specific stories of several animals lost forever due to human activity, such as the dodo, moa, thylacine, and quagga. This beautifully designed book includes excellent nature photography that shows off the diverse wildlife threatened with extinction, from lovely two-­page spreads of a tiger, polar bears, or macaws in their natural habitats, to smaller but striking images of forest elephants, the gray whale, or the giant anteater. The Annihilation of Nature is both a useful history of the problem and a visual reminder of what the world still stands to lose if it doesn’t change course.

JEFF FLEISCHER (November 27, 2015)

Gulf Stream Chronicles

A Naturalist Explores Life in an Ocean River

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David S. Lee
J. Christopher Haney, contributor
University of North Carolina Press
Hardcover $28.00 (304pp)
978-1-4696-2393-1
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

In Gulf Stream Chronicles, the late David S. Lee describes the great variety of animal life living in and near the gulf-­stream waters off the coast of North Carolina. His essays examine species like the leatherback turtle, pilot whale, shad, and sunfish, mixing Lee’s personal experiences observing them in the wild with information about their habits, their migration patterns, and how human populations in the area have historically impacted them. For example, the section on sperm whales addresses the history of whaling in the waters near Hatteras Island, the drastically different lives of male and female whales, and the animal’s role in the regional food chain. A museum curator and educator, Lee wrote with a style that blends academic thoroughness with firsthand anecdotes compiled over hundreds of visits to the Gulf Stream. The result is an informative work about an intricate ecosystem, written with an obvious love for the region and a naturalist’s eye for what makes it unique.

JEFF FLEISCHER (November 27, 2015)

The Planet Remade

How Geoengineering Could Change the World

Book Cover
Oliver Morton
Princeton University Press
Hardcover $29.95 (440pp)
978-0-691-14825-0
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

That industrial civilizations have altered the Earth and its atmosphere for the worse is beyond doubt, but geoengineering offers possible solutions, using human engineering to improve the climate. In The Planet Remade, veteran science writer Oliver Morton covers many aspects of the issue, from the damaging of the ozone layer (and the mitigation of that damage), to the pluses and minuses of energy options such as nuclear plants and solar generators, to the acidification of the ocean and the impact on the climate of a nuclear attack or accident. In each case, he looks at the problem and at possible geoengineering solutions, effectively outlining the risks and rewards, while acknowledging the challenges that must be overcome before these options gain widespread acceptance. Morton accomplishes the difficult task of explaining high-level scientific concepts in pragmatic terms, with enough history, first-person reporting, anecdotes, and humor that The Planet Remade is as enjoyable to read as it is informative.

JEFF FLEISCHER (November 27, 2015)

The Heart of Sustainability

Restoring Ecological Balance from the Inside Out

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Andres R. Edwards
New Society Publishers
Softcover $19.95 (240pp)
978-0-86571-762-6
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

With The Heart of Sustainability, Andres R. Edwards offers a philosophical approach to how people should think about sustainability issues. The book often tilts toward the new-age realm, with a focus on theoretical ideas rather than specific solutions. For example, Edwards discusses ideas such as reframing environmental crises, leading from within, or creating economic and social systems aligned with nature. Talked about at a thought level, without much in terms of how to achieve them in practical terms, these are, of course, admirable ideas, and the book regularly includes “questions to ponder” and easy-to-digest lists of ways to think about sustainability. The Heart of Sustainability also offers an extensive resources section—twenty pages of descriptions and contact information for many kinds of sustainability organizations—providing readers with a chance to put these important ideas into practice.

JEFF FLEISCHER (November 27, 2015)

Two Percent Solutions for the Planet

50 Low-Cost, Low-Tech, Nature-Based Practices for Combatting Hunger, Drought, and Climate Change

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Courtney White
Chelsea Green Publishing
Softcover $24.95 (240pp)
978-1-60358-617-7
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Two Percent Solutions for the Planet takes a clever approach to environmental problems. Rather than look at overarching solutions, Courtney White compiles fifty examples of effective, relatively small-scale success stories from around the world—all of which have made a positive impact on the environment and climate. In one example, he looks at the use of beetles to quickly turn manure into fertilizer. He describes an Australian farm’s experience grazing cattle alongside sheep, replenishing the land while simultaneously raising the animals on a healthy grass diet. Another project involved using natural materials like sticks and stones to improve a creek’s flow. The fifty examples show a nice range of innovative solutions that can be replicated, with results that benefit the planet as well as a specific farm, ranch, or other piece of land. The book’s title comes from the notion that all these solutions could be implemented for a tiny fraction of GDP, and each of the fifty examples includes links and resources for additional information about how to implement them.

JEFF FLEISCHER (November 27, 2015)

Sustainable Materials Without the Hot Air

Making Buildings, Vehicles and Products Efficiently and with Less New Material

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Julian M. Allwood
Jonathan M. Cullen
Green Books, UIT Cambridge
Softcover $39.99 (416pp)
978-1-906860-30-1
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Julian M. Allwood and Jonathan M. Cullen, the authors of Sustainable Materials, have engineering backgrounds, and that allows them to discuss an area that doesn’t receive enough attention—making buildings and goods more efficient by making their component materials more efficient. The authors understandably put a great deal of focus on steel and aluminum, but also discuss other materials including paper, plastic, and cement. A few examples of the many sustainable solutions the authors propose include: designing goods that will last longer, and therefore reduce the need for more materials; using different kinds of trusses and beams to reduce the amount of metal used to build structures; and producing aluminum using a more efficient electrolysis method. Though the authors have expertise in their subject, and it shows, they also write engagingly, explaining production methods and yield analysis in a way that a general audience can understand, and that will hopefully inspire industry to put these ideas into practice.

JEFF FLEISCHER (November 27, 2015)

Jeff Fleischer

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