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These are the images I carry in memory that form my understanding of passion and compassion in science: Rachel Carson waking at midnight to return to the sea the microscopic marine organisms she has been studying, when the tidal cycle is favorable to their survival; John Muir clinging to the upper branches of a tall pine during a violent storm, reveling in the power of natural forces.
Note: Join us on Monday, October 19, at Powell's Books on Hawthorne for a reading with Roy Scranton. A pilgrim arrives on a devastated planet. The destruction has been extreme, the planet's transformation almost complete. Once a gentle, temperate environment in which intelligent, tool-using, bipedal primates thrived, it has become a choking sauna, wet and [...]
Almost 30 years since its original publication, this absorbing, no-holds-barred condemnation of water policy in the American West remains an essential book for understanding our current water crisis, with California grappling with the most severe drought in recent history and the threat of global water shortages growing ever more real. Reisner reveals how the West's [...]
All the Wild That Remains is a fascinating portrait of the American West told through the lives of two of its most famous writers, Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner. This book champions their unique styles and will make you want to read (or reread) all of their work. It will also inspire you to get [...]
Kolbert considers the rapacious effects of humanity's unmitigated conquest of our planet and its biota — and the harrowing legacy our actions (and inactions) have ultimately wrought. Forgoing an alarmist approach in favor of a measured, well-reasoned style, Kolbert's shrewd reporting is both vital and engrossing. Books mentioned in this post The Sixth Extinction: An [...]
At Powell's, we feel the holidays are the perfect time to share our love of books with those close to us. For this special blog series, we reached out to authors featured in our Holiday Gift Guide to learn about their own experiences with book giving during this bountiful time of year. Today's featured giver [...]
A landmark achievement by Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything is essential reading on the ways climate change creates opportunities for us to reexamine our entire free market system — and will hopefully provoke us into lasting, significant action. Books mentioned in this post This Changes Everything: Capitalism... Naomi Klein Sale Hardcover $21.00
In her sweeping survey of the way humans have fundamentally altered the planet, Ackerman once again dazzles with her luminous prose and boundless curiosity. Far from a book weighed down by doom, The Human Age examines both our mistakes and our triumphs to demonstrate that, while we can't reverse course, we can forge a new [...]
We humans, despite our natural aptitude for mathematics, seem to have an arduous time making sense of concepts that involve very large numbers. Unfortunately, however, abstract notions have absolute consequences, whether anticipated or otherwise. Although it took until the early 1800s for global population to reach its first billion, it has doubled twice since the [...]
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Michael Toms for the iconic New Dimensions radio show. Toms, often called the Socrates of Radio, showed up for the interview with a legal pad that was completely filled with tiny handwritten notes and queries about my book Crow Planet. He knew [...]
Congrats to our contest winners, Agustin (and Jessica!), Antonio, and Byron who will receive a copy of John Farndon's Atlas of Oceans! You may have tuned in last week to PRI's The Worldto catch Farndon's interview and the related Geo Quiz about the newly identified fifth ocean, but these winners were quick to identify the landmasses on the book's cover. They are: the disputed Kuril Islands and the eastern end of Hokkaido in Japan.
With our contest series, we're looking to emphasize David Rogers' COLLABORATE advice, to allow our followers to join the fun that we have publishing these books. Be sure to check out the Representing Justice contest for the most recent chance to win a free YUP book.
Taking a cue from Thaler and Sunstein, Tierney suggests a piece of jewelry that measures the wearer's carbon footprint and displays it to the world on a scale from red to green. Writing a blog post for TierneyLab, Tierney nudged his readers to help him out with this project: "Do you have a better name, or a better nudge of kind? The best suggestion will be rewarded with a copy of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago." Click here to read the entire post or enter the contest.
For more information about nudges, check out Nudge or the website for the book, www.nudges.org, with news, reviews, a blog and even a glossary.
James Gustave Speth, a distinguished leader and founder of environmental institutions over the past four decades, is dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. He was awarded Japan’s Blue Planet Prize for “a lifetime of creative and visionary leadership in the search for science-based solutions to global environmental problems.” He lives in New Haven, CT.
The New York Sun and the New York Observer, both running pieces on Creating Central Park by Morrison H. Heckscher, have decided to emphasize different parts of the story: one real estate, the other art.
The Real Estate section of the New York Observer contained a Q&A with Heckscher about the book. Heckscher begins, "I would like to start by saying that the whole issue of the park has to do with open space in Manhattan. Central Park is, shall we say, the conclusion of 50 years of political machinations of how to provide, for the city and Manhattan, open space mostly for health reasons—for air and space for the health of the public, and recreation." Read the entire interview here.
The year 2008 marks the 150th anniversary of the design of Central Park, the first and arguably the most famous of America’s urban landscape parks. In October 1857 the new park’s board of commissioners announced a public design competition, and the following April the imaginative yet practicable “Greensward” plan submitted by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted was selected.
This book tells the fascinating story of how an extraordinary work of public art emerged from the crucible of New York City politics. From William Cullen Bryant’s 1844 editorial calling for “a pleasure ground of shade and recreation” to the completion of construction in 1870, the history of Central Park is an urban epic––a tale not only of animosity, political intrigue, and desire but also of idealism, sacrifice, and genius.
U.S. Governors and top environmental officials will meet tomorrow here at Yale University to exchange ideas on how states and the federal government can combat global warming and develop a strategy for future action.
The gathering, organized in part by Yale Press author Gus Speth, will also celebrate the centennial of President Theodore Roosevelt’s landmark 1908 Conference of Governors, which launched the modern conservation movement, planted the seed for the National Parks System, and inspired significant state efforts to protect land.
Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and author of The Bridge at the Edge of the World,Speth collaborated with other Yale organizations and state officials to commemorate that landmark 1908 conference. Last night at 8pm, Speth introduced keynote speakers Theodore Roosevelt IV and Gifford Pinchot III, the descendants of the original organizers of that 1908 conference.
The author of Red Sky at Morning would be the first to agree that we are in deep environmental trouble, but he offers hope that there is still time to avert global catastrophe. Gus Speth explores a wide variety of promising and even radical ideas for transforming modern capitalism so as to protect and restore the natural world.
This month's issue of E/The Environmental Magazine, features an interview with Yale Press author and Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies dean Gus Speth. Drawing upon his arguments in The Bridge at the Edge of the World, Speth proposes a serious shift in the way we think about today's environmental movement:
E: What is your message to today's environmental community? Speth: Mainstream environmentalism is very incremental, it's very wonkish in the sense that it's very technical. But the problem is, it's like swimming upstream???we get stronger and we think we're going to master the current and make headway against the current, but the truth is the current is getting stronger faster than we are. [...] So my urging to the environmental community is to step outside the system, to develop a more stinging, more in-depth critique and to begin to do some things which the environmental community hasn't been willing to take on so far.
You can read a complete transcript of the interview here.
There are lots of great ways to celebrate Earth Day. Bike to work, recycle, or show off your green thumb and plant a tree, like our commander-in-chief. But, in our minds, there's no better way to celebrate Mother Earth than learning more about her through a good book.
When it comes to saving the planet, few people know more than James Gustave Speth, co-founder of the NRDC and dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. In his book The Bridge at the Edge of the World, Speth argues that modern capitalism's obsession with consumption and GDP growth has gone too far, now causing more harm—to environment, social fabric, and world
security—than good. His bold plan is laid out in this inspired book, which is now available in paperback. And fear not, defenders of poor, defenseless trees! Speth's book is printed on acid free recycled paper with vegetable based ink.
Though environmental appreciation through the written word is all well and good, a picture contains a thousand words, or in Robert Poole's case, an entire book. Poole's book, Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth, takes the iconic "blue marble" photographs from NASA's Apollo missions as a starting point and tells the elaborate and surprising story of how these images came to be. From an environmentalist perspective, the photographs of Earth represented a turning point, Poole contends. In a strange way, we had to leave the planet to turn our focus back toward Earth, our beautiful and fragile home.
Matthew Klingle's book, Emerald City, tells the story of a community that has managed to weave together seamlessly its natural beauty and urban development. In this award-winning book, Klingle explores the role of nature in the development of the city of Seattle from the earliest days of its settlement to the present day, showing how this Pacific Northwest metropolis can be a model for our nation's greening cities.
Finally, for all you literary green freaks, check out an Earth Day/Poetry Month double-whammy, Can Poetry Save the Earth? by John Felstiner and Janet Malcolm's arrestingly beautiful collection of botanical portraits in her photographic work, Burdock. And, once again, happy Earth Day!
While the recent climate change legislation passed in the House of Representatives represents the first time Congress has approved a bill targeted at global warming, its passage does not come without controversy. The focus of the bill is a cap-and-trade system in which the total amount of emission pollution is capped and companies can trade pollution permits. Over time, the cap decreases, theoretically driving up the cost of emissions and encouraging companies to develop cleaner technologies’; however, the system has been criticized as a tax by Republicans.
In his book A Question of Balance, William Nordhaus seeks out a solution to the problems of climate change through economic analysis. He provides a thorough breakdown of the costs and benefits of a variety of policy options. The economic models that he uses provide insight into the complexity of the problem and the difficulty in finding a solution. We hope Nordhaus' next book will detail ways to avoid the wasteful "compromises, carve-outs, concessions and out-and-out gifts" that seem to accompany the passage of every bill.
For those old enough to remember, the 40th anniversary of the moon landing brings back memories of “One small step,” lunar bootprints, and the first grainy photos of an American flag flown some 240,000 miles from home. But the photos sent back from the Apollo missions were not only of the lunar landscape. In Earthrise: How We First Saw Ourselves, Robert Poole reminds us that the late 1960s also marked the first time man that man viewed Earth from space.
Command Module Pilot Michael Collins of the Apollo 11 mission remembered, “I looked out of my window and tried to find Earth. The little planet is so small out there in the vastness that at first I couldn’t even locate it. And when I did, a tingling of awe spread over me. There it was, shining like a jewel in a black sky. I looked at it in wonderment, suddenly aware of how its uniqueness is stamped in every atom of my body. . .”
It is no coincidence, Poole contends, that the years following the space missions saw the inauguration of the first Earth Day and the rise of the environmental movement. With the image of our beautiful “blue marble” beamed to households all over the world, the race to the moon became a long look back at the starting line. In Earthrise, Poole lets us witness this marble again, 40 years later, but no less amazing.
See the footage below for a glimpse of the other-worldly view from a moon lander.
Earlier this week, Stephen Colbert tapped Yale professor and YUP author Dan Esty to discuss the latest international hot topic: global warming. As a professor of Environmental Law and Policy with appointments at both
the Yale Law School and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental
Studies, Esty offered a multi-faceted perspective on climate change leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference set to begin on Monday, December 7 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Fans of Esty's book Green to Gold and those unconvinced by the so-called "Climategate" scandal Colbert references at the top of the segment should also look out for Howard Friel's new book The Lomborg Deception, which is the first major response to the work of leading climate-change skeptic Bjørn Lomborg, known for his books The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It. Publishing in February, Friel's book is certain to keep the climate change debate embroiled in controversy long after the conference closes in Copenhagen.
At the close of the UN Summit on Climate Change, diplomats may have left Copenhagen frustrated by the slow pace of progress, but as Yale professor of environmental policy, risk analysis, and political science John Wargo writesin his new book, Green Intelligence, the keys to environmental safety often begin with the actions we take in our own homes.
As Wargo explains in this interview with WNYC's Leonard Lopate, potentially harmful man-made chemicals surround us, not only when we step out of doors, but often also inside our own homes. Who hasn't sprayed an aerosol can inside or called an exterminator to control indoor pests? Yet, in doing so, we are often inviting unknown toxins quite literally into our own homes. Plastics, though now more widely understood as a potential chemical danger, seem particularly difficult to avoid. Take, for instance, Wargo's near-impossible challenge to his students to avoid plastics for a full semester:
For more about Wargo's research and Green Intelligence, be sure to check out this excellent video produced by Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Amid recent reports that climate change skeptic Patrick Michaels had financial ties to big polluters, Yale University Press author Howard Friel finds himself in a tangle with another big-name climate skeptic, Danish statistician Bjørn Lomborg.
Friel's new book, The Lomborg Deception, probes and questions the research underpinning Lomborg's two bestsellers, The Skeptical Environmentalist (2001) and Cool It (2007), meticulously checking every data point and note to argue that Lomborg employs deceptive analysis and sourcing methods to arrive at faulty conclusions about climate change. Last week, Lomborg responded to Friel's claims with a document posted on his website, lomborg.org. This week, Friel countered with his own response, writing:
Bjørn Lomborg’s comments about my book. . . display all of the features that characterize [his] two books. . . .Before I read Cool It in fall 2007, my experience in the hermeneutics of deception mostly dealt with books and texts that sought to justify war. Lomborg’s books are no worse than those, but they are no better. Perhaps twenty or fifty years from now, if and when the fuller impacts of man-made global warming are more apparent, people might argue that they were worse.
In her recent Newsweek column, Sharon Begley took a closer look at the developing debate by analyzing three of Lomborg's contested claims related to polar bear populations, the effect of global warming on disease, and the breakup of Antarctica’s Larsen B ice shelf. Through her own fact checking, Begley took issue with a number of Lomborg's citations and found that "Friel pretty much blows [Lomborg's claims] out of the water".
Though her review of The Lomborg Deception is not without its own critiques, Begley's main qualms focus on Friel's tendency to at times exchange "reader-friendliness" for his commitment to thoroughness. Yet, in his concerted search for truth about the climate, we're fairly certain that that's criticism Friel is willing to accept.
Remember: you must correctly identify the landmasses on the cover image and live in North America to win. Submit your answer and e-mail address as a comment to our blog (not on Facebook). The most specific answers will win, so there's still a chance you can bump someone less descriptive out of the winner's circle.
Contest closes on Wednesday at 6pm, EST. Good luck!