Environmental Books by SEJ Members (2007 and earlier)
Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back
Asphalt Nation is a major work of urban studies that examines how the automobile has ravaged America's cities and landscape, and how we can fight back. The automobile was once seen as a boon to American life, eradicating the pollution caused by horses and granting citizens new levels of freedom and mobility. But it was not long before the servant became the master — public spaces were designed to accommodate the automobile at the expense of the pedestrian, mass transportation was neglected, and the poor, unable to afford cars, saw their access to jobs and amenities worsen. In Asphalt Nation, Jane Holtz Kay effectively calls for a revolution to reverse our automobile-dependency. Citing successful efforts in places from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, Kay shows us that radical change is not impossible by any means. She demonstrates that there are economic, political, architectural, and personal solutions that can steer us out of the mess. Paperback. University of California Press, 1998. ISBN 0-520-216120-2.
The Backbone of the World: A Portrait of the Vanishing West Along the Continental Divide
Ten profiles of guides, sheep herders, cattlemen, loggers, miners and others; their varying perspectives on western wilderness and wildlife and their struggles to eke out a living from a landscape as endangered as they are. By Frank Clifford, SEJ member and editor for environmental news at the Los Angeles Times. Broadway Books, 2002; ISBN 0-7679-0701-9. Paperback 2003; ISBN 0-7679-0702-7.
The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature
Author and award-winning NPR science correspondent David Baron examines the complex relationship between people and wild animals in modern America, as suburbia sprawl out into wildlife habitat and animal populations spread inward. Baron's tale, which focuses on the growing problem of mountain lions in western suburbs, reveals the subtle yet powerful ways in which human actions are altering wildlife behavior. Hardcover. Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. ISBN 0393058077. Book website.
The Big Green Apple: Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Living in New York City
Plenty of New Yorkers want to lessen their share of environmental burden, but simply don't know where to begin. The Big Green Apple: Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Living in New York City provides simple ways you can make a difference. With it, you'll discover a comprehensive set of tips and strategies of how to adopt a lower-impact life without compromising your comfortable and cool urban lifestyle. You'll also find profiles of organizations, businesses, and individuals around the city committed to bringing NYC a brighter shade of green, as well as a comprehensive directory of green goods and services throughout the five boroughs. Covering energy consumption, food, household products, transportation, events, clothing, recycling, recreation, and much more. In The Big Green Apple, Ben Jervey presents easy-to-understand information about the environmental implications of typical city life, and offers practical advice for improving one's own relationship with the city's greater ecology. Globe Pequot, 2006. ISBN-10: 0762738359. More information.
Blue Frontier — Saving America's Living Seas
A fascinating account of America's oceans and ocean politics, Blue Frontier takes readers on an adventure-filled tour of America's last great wilderness range:its imperiled living seas. From the legacy of navy-funded ocean research and development since World War Two to the latest controversies surrounding beach closures, collapsing fish stocks, killer algae, hurricanes, and oil spills, Blue Frontier explores the impact of history, commerce, and policy on marine life — and by extension all life on earth. By David Helvarg. Owl Books, 2002. ISBN 0-8050-7135-0.
Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming is Changing the World
Eight years ago, award-winning photojournalist Gary Braasch began an extraordinary journey around the world to observe and document environmental changes resulting from the warming of our climate. In this eye-opening book, he brings us along to witness firsthand what he saw. In more than one hundred photographs, including dramatic before-and-after comparisons, Braasch records communities, landscapes, and animals at risk because of receding glaciers, eroding coastlines, rising sea levels, and thawing permafrost. Alongside Braasch's compelling words and images, essays by eminent scientists discuss the impacts of climate change on the oceans, biodiversity, fresh water, mountain cultures, plants and animals, and our health. More than a warning, Earth under Fire, the most complete illustrated guide to the effects and implications of climate change now available, offers an upbeat and intelligent account of how we can lessen the effects of our near total dependence on fossil fuel using technologies and energy sources already available. University of California Press, 2007. ISBN 0520244389. More information.
An Eclectic Guide to TREES East of the Rockies
This reference book and guide to identification of fifty species of native trees by leaf, flower, fruit, winter twig, bark, and wood includes author Glen Blouin's color photos of each characteristic, and lists original native Indian names for each tree. Holistic in scope, it describes the history, range, record sizes, preferred sites, and official state or provincial status. It explores each tree's role in the ecosystem, value as wildlife habitat, common insects and diseases, preferred planting sites as ornamentals, properties of its wood for domestic or industrial use, and its traditional use by native people as food and medicine. Many chapters also include insights into conservation topics such as clearcutting, the role of pioneer species, windbreaks on the prairies, hybridization, maple syrup production, Christmas trees, invasive insects and diseases, endangered species, and the near annihilation of the white pines in eastern and central North America in the 19th century. Boston Mills Press, 2001. ISBN 1-55046-351-9. 280 pages.
Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth
Eco-Economy provides a vision of an environmentally sustainable economy along with a roadmap on how to get from here to there. By Lester Brown. More info/free download. Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001. Paperback ISBN 0393321932. Hardcover ISBN 0393051099.
El Niño: Unlocking the Secrets of the Master Weather-Maker
It brings droughts, mud slides, killer storms, and even epidemics and hordes of frogs and rats. Now, for the first time, here is the complete-and fascinating-story of El Niño. In this saga of scientists and civilians, murderous storms and ecological shifts, award-winning science writer J. Madeleine Nash reveals the mysterious sources of the powerful weather-maker and how it has changed-and is changing-the lives of people around the globe. From East Africa to Borneo to California, on a journey that is part detective story and part scientific study, she shows how seemingly unconnected disasters are part of what scientists call the El Niño Southern Oscillation-a force produced by the interplay of wind and water with the power to unhinge the world. Comments about the book by E.O. Wilson, Bill McKibben, Brian Fagan et al. Non-Fiction/General. Warner Books, 2003. Hardcover ISBN: 0446524816. Paperback ISBN 0446679925.
The Enchanted Braid: Coming to Terms with Nature on the Coral Reef
A colorful journey through the natural history of coral reefs and of humanity's relationship to them. The most complex of all marine ecosystems, the coral reef is home to a spectacular yet unknown number of species of fishes, shrimps, worms, snails, crabs, sea cucumbers, sea stars, urchins, anemones, sea squirts, and sea plants. Award-winning writer Osha Gray Davidson takes us into the heart of the intricate labyrinths of the coral reef — from the individual coral polyp to towering metropolitan structures such as the Great Barrier Reef. John Wiley & Sons, 1998. ISBN 0-471-17727-X.
Encyclopedia of Toxicology
An A-Z encyclopedic arrangement of potentially hazardous substances and concepts relevant to toxicology and environmental health. Offers complete scientific descriptions of substances harmful, or potentially harmful, to living organisms. describes the actions, effects, detection, and treatment of these substances. Many other topics such as body organs and systems, toxic organisms, environmental issues, test procedures, and organizations, are also covered. Edited by Philip Wexler. 3 volumes. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998. ISBN 0-12-227220-X.
Evolution of a Columnist
Evolution of a Columnist is award-winning author Ed Flattau's journalistic memoir of his environmental crusade. The book chronicles the intellectual journey of the only nationally syndicated environmental columnist writing on a continuous basis for American newspapers since the early seventies. It describes how he has dealt with the inevitable contradictions and challenges of his subject matter, as well as conveying a sense of the steady growth of the environmental movement's national influence since the celebration of the first Earth Day. Xlibris Corporation, 2003. Paperback; ISBN 1-4134-0354-9. Cloth Hardback; ISBN 1-4134-0355-7. More information.
Eye of the Whale
Named a Best Book of the Year by three major newspapers, Eye of the Whale is the story of author Dick Russell's travels along the migratory route of the California gray whale from Baja to Siberia, focusing on the successful environmental fight to keep a saltworks expansion from happening at Laguna San Ignacio, on the Makah Tribe's hunt. Includes interviews with numerous scientists, as well as the historical saga of Charles Melville Scammon, a 19th-century whaling captain turned naturalist. Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN 0-684-86608-0.
Fire in the Turtle House: The Green Sea Turtle and the Fate of the Ocean
Sea turtles have existed since the time of the dinosaurs. But now, suddenly, the turtles are dying, ravaged by a mysterious plague that some biologists consider the most serious epidemic now raging in the natural world. Perhaps most important, sea turtles aren't the only marine creatures falling prey to deadly epidemics. Over the last few decades, diseases have been burning through nearshore waters around the world with unprecedented lethality. In this fascinating scientific detective story, Osha Gray Davidson tracks the fervent efforts of the extraordinary and often quirky scientists, marine biologists, veterinarians, and others racing against the clock to unravel a complicated biological and environmental puzzle and keep the turtles from extinction. Hardcover; PublicAffairs, 2001; ISBN 1-58648-000-6. Paperback; PublicAffairs, 2003; ISBN 1-58648-199-1.
Ginseng, the Divine Root: The Curious History of the Plant that Captivated the World
The story behind ginseng is as remarkable as the root itself. Prized for its legendary curative powers, ginseng launched the rise to power of China's last great dynasty, triggered trade wars, and sparked a boom in Minnesota comparable to the California Gold Rush. It has made and broken the fortunes of many and has inspired a subculture in rural America unrivaled by any herb in the plant kingdom. Today, ginseng is at the very center of alternative medicine, and is being studied by medical researchers for the treatment of diabetes and Parkinson's disease, and is featured in the booming business of energy drinks. This book tracks the path of this fascinating plant from the forests east of the Mississippi to the bustling streets of Hong Kong and the remote corners of China. Author David A. Taylor becomes immersed in a world full of wheelers, dealers, diggers, and stealers, all with a common goal: to hunt down the elusive "Root of Life." Weaving together his intriguing adventures with ginseng's rich history, Taylor uncovers a story of international crime, ancient tradition, botany, herbal medicine, and the vagaries of human nature. More information. Algonquin Books, 2006. ISBN: 1565124014.
Global Climate Change and U.S. Law
Global Climate Change and U.S. Law provides comprehensive coverage of the country's law as it relates to global climate change. After a summary of the factual and scientific background, Part I outlines the international and national legal framework of climate change regulation and associated litigation. Part II describes emerging regional, state and local actions, and includes a 50-state survey. Part III covers issues of concern to corporations, including disclosure, fiduciary duties, insurance, and subsidies. Part IV examines the legal aspects of efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, such as voluntary efforts, emissions trading, and carbon sequestration. The book, edited by Michael Gerrard, includes key resource aids, including a glossary of climate related terms; a list of acronyms; extensive endnotes; and a comprehensive index. More information. American Bar Association, 2007. ISBN: 978-1-59031-816-4.
Global Survival: The Challenge and Its Implications for Thinking and Acting
Global Survival proposes a new academic discipline to be called "Survival Research." It was originally proposed by the eminent political scientist John H. Herz in 1988. Herz suggested: "Survival research must rise above the specific concerns, interests, and even expertise, of any particular discipline, such as political science. It must be interdisciplinary, requiring the cooperation of any and all the social sciences with other scientific disciplines, such as agronomists, climatologists, physicists, medical sciences, and so forth. ... It must mobilize experts in the various fields so as to make them recognize the superdisciplinary concerns of global survival to which priority must be given over and above the more parochial concerns of this or that national, economic, religious or similar grouping.“ Sixteen noted scholars from a wide variety of disciplines contribute chapters addressed to this topic. SelectBooks, Inc., 2006. Ervin Laszlo and SEJ member Peter Seidel, editors. ISBN I-59079-104-5. More information.
Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial
Grave Matters follows a dozen families that found in "green" burial a more natural, more economic and ultimately more meaningful alternative to the tired and toxic send-off on offer at the local funeral parlor. Environmental journalist Mark Harris examines this new green burial underground, leading readers into natural cemeteries and domestic graveyards, taking them aboard boats from which ashes and memorial "reef balls" are cast into the sea. He reports on a family that conducts a home funeral and delivers a loved one to the crematory, another that hires a carpenter to build a pine coffin. By way of contrast, Grave Matters details the embalming process and the environmental aftermath of the standard funeral. How-to appendices included. Scribner, 2007. Hardcover. ISBN: 978-0-7432-7768-6. More information.
The Great Lakes Water Wars
In 2003, the U.N. released a report warning that the Earth is now facing "a serious water crisis." From parched developing countries to sprawling cities in the dry American West, water is in high demand. Holding one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water, the Great Lakes region has become a battleground for this essential element of life. In The Great Lakes Water Wars, former Newsweek correspondent Peter Annin delves into the long history of political maneuvers and water diversion schemes that have proposed sending Great Lakes water everywhere from Akron to Asia. And he uses the arid Aral Sea as a model of how unchecked water diversions can create a "death by a thousand cuts." Annin offers behind-the-scene accounts of the politics shaping today's Great Lakes water controversies. His book helps explain why the eight Great Lake states, along with Ontario and Quebec, are working to adopt a new, binding water management system to protect this globally significant resource for the next 100 years and beyond. The Great Lakes Water Wars tells the colorful history of the efforts to conserve this unique cold-water ecosystem, and the book provides an important warning about what is at stake should those efforts fail. Hardcover. Publisher: Island Press, 2006. ISBN 1559630876. More information.
Great Waters: An Atlantic Passage
Great Waters explores how earth's life-giving oceans nourish and sustain us, and how humans are altering the sea's finely-tuned balances. From the review in Science: "I will recommend it to anyone who proposes to be an informed citizen of planet Earth." From The (London) Times: "If you read only one book about the ocean, this should be it." By Deborah Cramer. W.W. Norton & Company, 2002. Paperback ISBN 0-393-32334-X.
The Greenhouse Trap: What We're Doing to the Atmosphere and How We Can Slow Global Warming
(A World Resources Institute Guide to the Environment)
Written for general audiences, The Greenhouse Trap traces the history of the greenhouse effect and shows how the current crisis has come about. Possible future consequences, based on the most credible scientific research available, are vividly described and objectively assessed. Government policies for slowing global warming are outlined along with suggestions for individuals to follow in their homes and communities. By Francesca Lyman with James J. MacKenzie, et al. Beacon Press, 1990. ISBN 0-8070-8503-0. Amazon link.
High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health
The Digital Age was expected to usher in an era of clean production, an alternative to smokestack industries and their pollutants. But as Elizabeth Grossman reveals in High Tech Trash her penetrating analysis of high tech manufacture and disposal, digital may be sleek, but it's anything but clean. Deep within every electronic device lie toxic materials whose effects last for decades, span the globe, and are now showing up in our bodies and our food. Americans own over two billion pieces of high tech electronics and discard millions of tons each year. Electronic waste makes up the majority of heavy metals found in our landfills. But the problem goes far beyond American shores, most tragically to China, India and elsewhere in the developing world, where shiploads of discarded electronics arrive daily to be recycled — or dumped — in ways that expose thousands of workers and community residents to toxics. Island Press, 2006. ISBN 1-55963-554-1. More information, Q&A, fact sheets. Amazon link.
How to Raise Chickens
Chickens are hot! This book by Christine Heinrichs covers the basics of chicken care to get beginners started, plus enough detail on breeding systems and other husbandry refinements to be of use to the experienced chicken keeper. It includes chicken history and literature, as well as descriptions of historic breeds. It makes the case for traditional breeds as the best choice for backyard chicken keeping. A rich Resources section makes it a valuable reference. Voyageur Press, 2007. ISBN 9780760328286. More information.
Information Resources in Toxicology
An annotated bibliography and sourcebook of key resources, including digital, in the fields of toxicology, environmental health and chemical safety. Includes a short history, references to journals, newsletters, books, general interest works, Internet resources, technical reports, regulations, organizations, patents, grants, poison control centers, and patents. International activities are covered and there are contributions from 16 countries outside the U.S. Edited by Philip Wexler. 3rd Edition. San Diego: Academic Press, 2000. ISBN 0-12-744770-9.
Inside the Dzanga-Sangha Rain Forest: Exploring the Heart of Central Africa
Experiences while journeying through Central Africa's rain forest "from the working journals of the scientists, artists, and filmmakers on expedition for the American Museum of Natural History" are documented in this 127-page book. Twelve chapters cover a wide variety of information, including short biographies of the six participants, descriptions of the types of animal life indigenous to this habitat, and a discussion about setting up the exhibit for the museum. Not as fragmented in design as the "Eyewitness" series, information is segmented into journal writings, photographs with captions, and highlighted portions in the main text for added facts. Reading from the personal perspective is much more enjoyable than the encyclopedic style of other books of this genre. The book gives a feel for the dedication and time that scientists require to carry out fieldwork and the importance of various team member skills. The photographs, too numerous to count, are rich in detail and color. Some span an entire spread, while smaller ones are sprinkled throughout the pages. Compiled by Francesca Lyman. Workman Publishing Company/American Museum of Natural History, 1998. Ages 8 to 14. Reviewer: Tina Hudak. ISBN 0-7611-0870-X. Amazon link.
Killing Our Oceans: Dealing with the Mass Extinction of Marine Life
In his award-winning Ark of the Broken Covenant, author John Kunich showed that Earth's species are concentrated in 25 zones of ecological significance known as biodiversity hotspots, and that we'd go a long way toward saving many species from extinction if we'd focus our protective laws and regulations on these zones. In Killing Our Oceans he extends this analysis to the extraordinary pockets of life in the oceans that are similarly threatened. From coral reefs to recently discovered hydrothermal vents, the oceans contain vast numbers of unknown and endangered species. We are rapidly losing these unique, irreplaceable treasures, due in part to an appalling lack of efficacious safeguards. What's in it for us if we intervene to halt this mass extinction? Quite possibly the greatest medical, nutritional, and scientific breakthroughs in all of human history, just waiting to be discovered and harnessed — or forever lost along with the dying species that hold the keys to these secrets. Kunich examines in detail the applicable international laws as well as domestic laws of the nations with key marine resources, and demonstrates the abject failure of these measures to prevent or halt a mass extinction in our oceans. Killing Our Oceans concludes with a set of legal proposals that could start us down the road to preserving the marine hotspots and, with them, most of Earth's biodiversity. Legal solutions are not the only answer, but they are a beginning. Praeger, 2006. ISBN 0275988783.
A Land on Fire: The Environmental Consequences of the Southeast Asian Boom
An investigative journalist discovers that Southeast Asia's fight to protect its environment is inextricably intertwined with the push of democracy and the pull of globalization. By James David Fahn. Westview Press, 2003. ISBN 0-8133-4053-5. More details.
The Malling of America (CDs)
Everybody talks about the problems of exponential growth in the west — pollution, congestion, traffic — but talk about solutions and many Westerners give you a blank stare — or argue that you're messing with their private property rights. In the face of those blank stares, the two-part documentary The Malling of America tackles this issue.
- Part One: In "Across the Great Divide," Oregon-based producer Barbara Bernstein sets out on a road trip through the mountains and canyons of Colorado and Utah, looking for what's left of the West of open space and rugged wildlands. She meets an array of folks trying in their own ways to grapple with the changing west, including Will Toor, the environmentalist mayor of Boulder, Colorado; Del Le Fevre, the last working rancher in Boulder, Utah; Mark and Katie Austin, owners of the Boulder Mountain Lodge, who are trying to bring the New West to this remote corner of Southern Utah, where the road to town was paved less than fifteen years ago; Utah Division of Indian Affairs director Forrest Cuch; and Utah writer and naturalist Terry Tempest Williams.
- Part Two: "Can the Last Place Last?" returns to the West Coast to visit two places that have been living with strict land use planning regulations for twenty five years: Marin County in Northern California, and the state of Oregon. These experiments in planning for growth are contrasted with the hundreds of miles of sprawl that have swallowed farms and natural areas all along the Wasatch Front in Utah and the Front Range of Colorado. In the course of this journey, we come to understand the myriad of issues that are all part of the discussion of growth. What is a landscape's principal value: as an economic resource or as a source of natural habitat, beauty and spiritual connection? And how do we create livable communities that do not become exclusive enclaves for the wealthy?
Available as a 2-CD set or individually. The program is available free of charge to public radio stations for broadcast. Contact Barbara Bernstein at (503) 235-5036 or visit the Media Project.
Mass Media and Environmental Conflict: America's Green Crusades
News media coverage of conservation and public health controversy began long before the environmental movements of the 1960s. In Mass Media and Environmental Conflict, authors Mark Neuzil and Bill Kovarik present a series of case studies describing interactions between the media and social groups in the late 19th and early to mid 20th century. Neuzil and Kovarik explore the role of books, magazines, newspaper articles, and other media and the ways they have created both regional and national communities of environmental understanding. Neuzil and Kovarik fold together early environmental groups, the mass media, the bureaucratic power structure, and the social system of each period, examining battles over public land, wild animals, clean air, and workplace hazards. The authors also describe controversies over America's national parks; species depletion and the evolution of hunting regulations; muckrakers and the great Alaskan land fraud; Hetch Hetchy and the first big dam controversy; the Ethyl gasoline debate; and the Radium Girls controversy. Sage Publications, 1996. ISBN 076190333X.
Monkey Dancing: A Father, Two Kids and a Journey to the Ends of the Earth
After his wife of 15 years divorced him and moved out of state with her new girlfriend, followed by the death of his brother from breast cancer, Daniel Glick found himself raising two decidedly spirited children on his own. He opted to forge this new family of three by using adventure as their crucible, embarking on a five-month world tour with his 13-year old son and 9-year-old daughter to see some of the planet's most wondrous and environmentally endangered landscapes. From the python-infested rivers of Borneo to the jungles of Vietnam, from Nepal's Gangeatic Plains to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Glick weaves accounts of the trio's encounters with the natural world into his intimate reflections on loss, change, and fatherhood, illuminating the connection between our relationship with each other and our relationship with the earth we inhabit. A Colorado book award winner and Amazon.com's "Top 50 Editors' Picks" for 2003. More information. Hardcover: PublicAffairs, 2003; ISBN 1586481541. Paperback: PublicAffairs, 2004; ISBN 1586482378.
Moving Mountains: How One Woman and Her Community Won Justice from Big Coal
In late 1994, wells in Pie, West Virginia, began to go dry, leaving many residents of the small coal-mining town without water to drink. When local housewife Trish Bragg made a few phone calls in an effort to solve this problem, she had no idea that her inquiries would eventually lead to her becoming the named plaintiff in a landmark lawsuit over mountaintop removal mining, a summa cum laude college graduate and a hero of her community. Author Penny Loeb, a longtime investigative journalist at Newsday and U.S. News & World Report, spent nine years chronicling the triumphs and setbacks of people in the West Virginia coalfields — people caught between the economic opportunities provided by coal and the detriments to health and to quality of life that are so often the by-products of the coal industry. The result of her work is an account of the human and environmental costs of coal extraction, and the inspirational grassroots crusade to mitigate these costs. Winner of prestigious bronze award for environment in Foreword Magazine's 2007 contest for all independent and academic press books. More information. University Press of Kentucky, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8131-2441-4.
Origins: The Quest for Our Cosmic Roots
With stunning regularity, the search for our cosmic roots has been yielding remarkable discoveries about the universe and our place in it. In Origins, journalist Tom Yulsman joins the scientists engaged in this quest. From the interior of protons to the edge of the universe, and from the control room of an atom smasher to an observatory atop a volcano, Yulsman takes readers on a journey at the cutting edge of science. How could the universe have sprouted from nothing? What is the origin of galaxies? How do solar systems form? And how did Earth become an oasis of life — one that has produced a species intelligent enough to ask these questions? In laying out the answers, Origins addresses some of the most profound issues humans have confronted. Institute of Physics Publishing, 2003. ISBN 075030765X.
Outgrowing the Earth: The Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures
In this groundbreaking work, Lester Brown documents the ways that human demands are outstripping the earth's natural capacities — and how the resulting environmental damage is undermining food production. The ability to provide enough food is at stake. It depends not only on efforts within agriculture, but also on energy policies that stabilize climate, a worldwide effort to raise water productivity, the evolution of land-efficient transport systems, and population policies that seek a humane balance between population and food. Outgrowing the Earth investigates these issues and outlines the steps needed to secure future food supplies. W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. Paperback ISBN 0393327256. Hardback ISBN 0393060705. More information.
Parts Per Million: The Poisoning of Beverly Hills High School
Industrial pollution, historically a problem only in poor, marginalized communities, seems incompatible with daily life in one of the wealthiest towns in America. Yet in 2003, a landmark toxic tort suit, initiated by the sleuthing of the real-life Erin Brockovich, was filed in Los Angeles, with over 1,000 plaintiffs claiming their illnesses could be traced to exposures from the oil and energy companies operating at Beverly Hills High School. Parts Per Million is the product of Joy Horowitz's four years researching and investigating the story. Horowitz goes behind the scenes to find out if the connection between the pollution and the cancers could, in fact, be real. What she discovered was bigger and uglier than a single court case could attest to. Viking USA, 2007. Hardback ISBN 0670037982. More information, including book reviews.
Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms
Katrina was the signal event of the new century, a body blow to the national self-image. Scenes Americans expect to see in far-off, ungovernable countries have now unfolded in the mightiest nation on earth: victims struggling to survive amid depravity and death, an entire city reduced to an empty shell, a diaspora of refugees unseen since the days of the Dust Bowl. Even as rebuilding gets underway, a sense of shock and confusion lingers. Indeed, sensationalism and political finger-pointing have made it nearly impossible to distinguish the truth from the spin. But now, John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein cut through the confusion to offer a clear explanation for the greatest natural disaster in American history. Path of Destruction isn't just a book about the storm, those who survived, and those who didn't; it's also an account into the dreadful inadequacies that existed prior to 2005, an indictment of the Washingtonofficials who failed to act, and a scientific investigation into why these huge storms are coming now. Hardcover. Little, Brown and Company, 2006. ISBN 031601642X . More information.
A Plague of Frogs: Unraveling an Environmental Mystery
An alarming account of the effects of environmental degradation. A Plague of Frogs is an ecological detective story, one that begins when a class of middle schoolers discovers an unusual number of deformed frogs in a pond on a southern Minnesota farm in 1995. William Souder spins a gripping tale of scientific investigation, environmental debate, and the frightening implications of what these deformed frogs mean for humanity. Paperback. University of Minnesota Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8166-4178-1. More information.
Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble
Our global economy is on an environmental path that the earth cannot sustain. While this has long been clear to ecologists, what is happening in China is now making it clear to economists as well. In Plan B 2.0, author Lester Brown directly addresses the challenge posed by the fact that the western economic model — the fossil-fuel-based, auto-centered, throwaway economy — is not going to work for China. If it does not work for China, it will not work for India, which by 2031 will have a population even larger than China's. Nor will it work for the 3 billion other people in developing countries who are also dreaming the "American dream." And in an increasingly integrated world economy, where all countries are competing for the same oil, grain, and steel, the existing economic model will not work for industrial countries either. Brown's book goes beyond laying out the challenges ahead. He provides a clear and succinct summary of the solutions and of the costs associated with them. More info/free download. Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006. Paperback ISBN 0-393-32831-7. Hardcover ISBN 0-393-06162-0.
Powder Burn: Arson, Money and Mystery on Vail Mountain
In the pre-dawn hours of October 19, 1998, a commando-style arson destroyed $12 million worth of chair lifts and mountaintop buildings at Vail, Colorado, the largest ski resort in the United States. Within days, an email arrived from a little-known radical environmental group known as the Earth Liberation Front, claiming credit for the arson. But the ELF's claim of credit was never substantiated, and the number of potential suspects grew in direct proportion to the number of enemies that the ski area's owners — Vail Resorts, Inc. — had made after they purchased Vail in 1996. Powder Burn examines the strange goings-on at the heart of the "New West" — a place where the traditional mining, grazing, and timbering economy shifted to include modem cowboy millionaires building "starter castles" and Wall Street companies strip-mining the Rockies' famous scenery. In Powder Burn, Daniel Glick takes readers on a compelling and wild ride through this bizarre town full of bombastic characters to lay bare the growing pains of a breathtakingly beautiful region. Packed with odd characters and paranoia, with purple mountains and despicable actions, this is a book about crime, the environment, a small town, and an unsolved mystery. More information. Hardcover: PublicAffairs, 2001; ISBN 1586480030. Paper: PublicAffairs, 2003; ISBN 1586481649.
Radio Tales for the Road (CDs)
Producer Barbara Bernstein's unique combination of story-telling, radio theater and original music.
- Program One: "Getting Lost"
Two contrasting experiences of getting lost in the wilderness. In 1970 a young naive urban hippie gets lost in Big Sur. Nearly thirty years later, as an experienced hiker, she goes for a simple day hike in a Southern Utah canyon and discovers the deadly mischievous potential of Coyote's canyon.
- Program Two: "Hidden Waters"
The metaphors of culverted rivers running underground and roaring rapids and waterfalls inundated by the backwaters of dams along the Columbia River are at the heart of two tales about confronting the death of one's parents and the threatened extinction of the Pacific Salmon.
1 hour CD. Contact Barbara Bernstein at (503) 235-5036 or visit the Media Project.
Raising a Stink: The Struggle over Factory Hog Farms in Nebraska
In Nebraska, as in many states across the nation, factory farms housing tens of thousands of hogs have altered the physical, cultural, and economic landscape, and have generated complex and deeply divisive conflicts among family farmers, environmentalists, agribusinesses, and elected officials. A reporter long familiar with the controversy, Carolyn Johnsen draws on a wealth of interviews, archival material, and her own extensive experience as a journalist to present a timely, informative, and balanced account of this complicated and troubling agricultural practice — and to put a human face on its causes and consequences. Here everyone has a say: farmers and neighbors suffering from proximity to the factory hog farms; pork producers adopting the latest hog confinement technology in the face of fierce opposition; politicians attempting to interpret the "science" and shape public policy in a maelstrom. The result is the story of a struggle for the heart and soul of rural America. University of Nebraska Press, 2003. Paper ISBN 0-8032-7617-6. More information.
Return of the Condor: The Race to Save Our Largest Bird from Extinction
Award-winning science journalist John Moir tells the riveting account of one of the most dramatic attempts to save a species from extinction in the history of modern conservation. Down to only twenty-two individuals in the 1980s, the condor owes its survival and recovery to a remarkable team of scientists who flouted conventional wisdom and pursued the most controversial means to save it. The book, which features a 32-page color-photo insert, takes readers deep into condor country. It also connects the condor's plight to the larger extinction crisis sweeping our planet. Return of the Condor was selected by the National Association of Science Writers for an Honorable Mention in their Science-in-Society Journalism Awards that recognized the book as one of five outstanding works of science journalism that were published or broadcast in 2006. Lyons Press, 2006. ISBN-10: 1592289495. ISBN-13: 978-1592289493. More information.
Rivers That Were (CDs)
Rivers That Were is a two-part documentary by Oregon-based, award-winning producer Barbara Bernstein. These two hours explore the long-term consequences of over a century of redesigning nature to suit commercial and industrial needs. The programs juxtapose the voices and viewpoints of Native Americans, barge operators, water engineers, environmentalists, policy makers and others who live and work in the watersheds of these two mythic Western rivers.
- Part One: "Working Water" compares two environmental crises. On the Colorado River Basin, it's the ongoing effort to restore the Salton Sea. On the Columbia, it's the confounding crisis of how to clean up one of the most toxic sites in the world, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
- Part Two: "Beaver Taught Salmon How To Jump" recreates the once natural and free-flowing tributaries and mainstem of the Columbia River, the Great River of the West. The river that was is contrasted with today's industrialized landscape of culverted urban creeks, hardened riverbanks and inundated waterfalls.
Available as a 2-CD set or individually. The program is available free of charge to public radio stations for broadcast. Contact Barbara Bernstein at (503) 235-5036 or visit the Media Project. Also check out the "River Radio Journal."
Sacred Sea: A Journey to Lake Baikal
Excerpted from the New York Times, Nov. 26, 2007: "Russians sing patriotic hymns about Lake Baikal, and with good reason. Their 'sacred sea' is the oldest lake on earth, as well as the deepest and the largest by volume... it could swallow Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario and still be thirsty. Journalist Peter Thomson knew next to nothing about Baikal before reading a seductive article in the National Geographic. Eight years later he quit his job as an environmental news producer for NPR and talked his brother into joining him on a round-the-world trip to a place where neither understood the language or the culture. The result is this superb paean to a unique and bizarre ecosystem. A laboratory of evolution, Lake Baikal is home to hundreds of plants and animals found nowhere else. Mr. Thomson investigates the biochemistry behind the myth that the lake's water purifies itself. (Russian scientists think the secret lies with a miniature shrimp that filters industrial pollutants, of which tons were introduced during Soviet rule.) Careful not to prescribe development scenarios from the comforts of America ("Baikal, Too, Must Work" is the title of the last section, on the economic history of the region), Mr. Thomson clearly favors low-impact tourism as the optimal model for the future. The lake's remoteness has so far preserved it from becoming Tahoe or Banff. "Bad roads are good for Baikal," says a local. Mr. Thomson is a trustworthy companion on these matters, but he has also written a compelling diary of personal discovery. Curiosity alone seems to have guided his footsteps. Wagering whim and risk over common sense was in this case the right move, for him and for us." Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-19-517051-1. More information.
Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning Of The Arctic
Traditionally thought of as the last great unspoiled territory on Earth, the Arctic is in reality home to some of the most contaminated people and animals on the planet. Awarded a major grant to conduct an exhaustive study of the deteriorating environment of the Arctic by the Pew Charitable Trusts (the first time Pew has given such a grant to a journalist), Los Angeles Times environmental reporter Marla Cone traveled across the Arctic, from Greenland to the Aleutian Islands, to find out why the Arctic is toxic. Hardcover. Grove Press, 2005. ISBN 080211797X. More information.
Slow Road Home
One man's focus turned deliberately and abruptly at age fifty-four from what he did for a living (biology teacher naturalist turned physical therapist) to where it was that he lived. Stepping back from familiar roles and routines, the Alabama native learned that the southern mountains had always held a nutrient he could not live without. From his remote valley home in the Blue Ridge of Floyd County, Virginia came daily fragments of an examined life collected now in this memoir of landscape. "Fred First's Slow Road Home, like Thoreau's Walden, is an experiment in living deliberately and facing the essential facts of life. Morning after morning, First opens his eyes and remembers, using words and a naturalist's love of details to coax pattern and parable, tragedy and transcendence, out of his Floyd County meadow and creeks. His paragraphs trace the drama of the ordinary — an ordinary so rich and strange that we realize we've never been truly awake before." Thomas Gardner, Clifford A. Cutchins Professor of English, Virginia Tech. Soft cover. Goose Creek Press, 2006. 978-0977939510. More information.
Sobre a Terra: um guia para quem lê e escreve sobre ambiente
Sobre a Terra is an environmental handbook aimed at journalists and the general public. Ricardo Garcia, an SEJ member from Portugal, started to write it during a year-long Reuters Foundation fellowship at Oxford University. The book contains an introduction on the specifics of environmental reporting, followed by ten practical tips for journalists. The core of the book, however, is composed of 15 chapters, each one addressing an environmental issue — water, climate change, biodiversity, environmental law, energy, forests, coastal issues, oil spills, land use planning, air pollution, population, waste, noise, hazardous substances and genetically modified organisms. In each chapter, the subject is introduced with global background, specific Portugese and European information followed by a summary of the relevant main international treaties and a list of sources of information. The book is in Portuguese, but may be of use for Spanish-speaking members. In English, its title would be On Earth: a guide for those who read or write about the environment. Publisher: Público, Comunicaçäo Social S.A., 2004. ISBN: 972-8179-85-5. 430 pages.
A Spiritual Field Guide: Meditations for the Outdoors
A Spiritual Field Guide is a sophisticated, unsentimental devotional reader designed for nature lovers. Bernard Brady and Mark Neuzil (former SEJ board member) offer up reflections on the natural world, humanity's place in nature, and the role and tradition of "wilderness" in seeking and communicating with God. Each chapter includes a series of readings, meditations and quotes drawn from history's most observant and articulate nature lovers. Publisher's Weekly called it "a solid and fulfilling collection of writings about nature with a spiritual bent." Library Journal called it "a novel compendium." John E. Phelan, president of North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, wrote: "It will be in my backpack during the days of hiking this summer." Paperback. Brazos Press, 2005. ISBN 1-58743-118-1. 192 pages.
State of the Wild 2006: A Global Portrait of Wildlife, Wildlands, and Oceans
How do we gauge the state of earth's wildlife, wildlands, and oceans? State of the Wild is a new annual series that brings together some of the world's most renowned conservationists and writers — George Schaller, Alan Rabinowitz, Sylvia Earle, Rick Bass, Bill McKibben, Tom Lovejoy, and many others — to assess wildlife and wilderness, and to provide insights into how humans can become better stewards of the wild. This 2006 edition, edited by SEJ member Sharon Guynup, explores the impacts of hunting and the wildlife trade through a range of essays: Ted Kerasote traces the history of hunting in North America; Carl Safina, Eric Gilman, and Wallace J. Nichols quantify the toll taken by commercial fishing on seabirds, turtles, and other marine species; James Compton and Samuel K. H. Lee explore the global reach of the wildlife trade for traditional Asian medicine. Paperback. More information. Island Press, 2005. ISBN 1597260010. 300 pages.
When populations of striped bass began plummeting in the early 1980s, author and fisherman Dick Russell helped lead an Atlantic coast conservation campaign that resulted in one of the most remarkable wildlife comebacks in the history of fisheries. Striper Wars tells the powerful personal and environmental tale of one of the most important species in American history. From the meals of Native Americans and pilgrims, to the inspiration for the nation's first conservation law, to the hooks of avid fishermen, the striped bass has nourished America and its economy for centuries. After a triumphant recovery in the early 90s, new enemies have emerged; the striped bass is now threatened by bacterial diseases, malnutrition, and overfishing of prey. His love for the striped bass inspires and informs every page of Striper Wars. Only with constant vigilance by concerned citizens, Dick Russell reminds us, can environmental victories be sustained. Island Press, 2005. Hardcover only. ISBN 1-55963-632-7. More information.
The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise
The Everglades was once reviled as a liquid wasteland, and Americans dreamed of draining it. Now it is revered as a national treasure, and Americans have launched the largest environmental project in history to try to save it. The Swamp is the stunning story of the destruction and possible resurrection of the Everglades, the saga of man's abuse of nature in southern Florida and his unprecedented efforts to make amends. Michael Grunwald, a prize-winning national reporter for The Washington Post, takes readers on a riveting journey from the Ice Ages to the present, illuminating the natural, social and political history of one of America's most beguiling but least understood patches of land. Simon & Schuster, 2006. Hardcover only. ISBN 0-7432-5105-9. More information.
Tongass: Pulp Politics and the Fight for the Alaska Rain Forest
Set in Alaska's coastal rain forest, Tongass is a story by turns dismaying and inspiring, of greed, courage, bare-knuckles politics, and the fate of a remote, wild, beautiful land. Praised by Publishers Weekly as a "blow-by-blow account of a messy controversy and an impressive example of thorough journalism," Kathie Durbin's acclaimed volume is now available in an expanded edition. Durbin updates the story of the Tongass with a chapter describing political and economic developments since 1999. Among the changes: a dramatic growth in cruise ship tourism, a new governor's plan for a system of roads and bridges to link remote Southeast Alaska communities, and a renewed push by the Forest Service under a timber-friendly administration in Washington, D.C., to open vast roadless areas to logging. Yet the fight for the Alaska rain forest is becoming a broader movement as appreciation for the true value of the region's wilderness grows. Oregon State University Press, 2005. Paperback. ISBN 0-87071-056-7. More information.
Toward the Livable City
Toward the Livable City gathers places and faces, i.e., names of writers who dwell and discuss the "attractions and distractions" of urban life — as the Milkweed Editions publishers describe their series. The writers of these diverse, illustrated essays go beyond the cosmetic that makes urban life a joy, insisting that "livability is more than skin deep," as editor Emilie Buchwald puts it, and "finding the common ground" within the writing of these unlike scribes. Safety, gridlock and walkability are among the qualities of citydwelling described, essay by essay, in the words of its diverse urban/enviro authors. The book begins with "The Lived-in City" as Jane Holtz Kay (SEJ member and author of Asphalt Nation) calls it, exulting in The City Upon A Hill even as she describes the heartbreak and heroics of its daily life while Lynda Morgenroth takes the opposite track in "Divorcing the City." Essays range from the slightly academic to the familiar in pieces by such other well-known writers and essayists as Emily Hiestand, Philip Lopate, Tony Hiss and James Kunstler. Jay Waljasper even offers instructions in "How to Love Your Home Town," an activity that could be the salvation to save this sprawling, ravaged planet. Milkweed Editions, 2003. ISBN 1571312714.
Toxic Deception: How the Chemical Industry Manipulates Science, Bends the Law, and Endangers Your Health
Two investigative journalists document how the chemical industry in America has used its financial power to circumvent government regulation, keep dangerous products on the market, and taint research to further their business. By Dan Fagin (former SEJ president), Marianne Lavelle, and Center for Public Integrity. LPC, 1999. Paperback ISBN 1567511627. Also available in hardcover. Amazon link.
Tropical Forests & The Human Spirit: Journeys to the Brink of Hope
Tropical forests are vanishing at an alarming rate. This book, based on extensive international field research, highlights one solution for preserving this precious resource: empowering local people who depend on the forest for survival. With engagingly written case studies from Thailand's Golden Triangle to Mindanao in the Philippines, from Indonesia, India and Africa to Central and South America. Roger D. Stone (SEJ member) and Claudia D'Andrea introduce us to the communities and the individuals, governments, loggers, agencies, and local groups who vie for forest resources. Stone and D'Andrea discuss the many reasons why international institutions and national governments have been unable and unwilling to stem the accelerating loss of tropical forest — and how local communities can often do it better. University of California Press, 2001. ISBN 0-520-23089-2.
The Urban Imperative: Urban Outreach Strategies for Protected Area Agencies
Conservationists will be a lot more successful in protecting the natural world if they take cities and the people who live in them a lot more seriously. In 26 articles, 34 authors from 11 countries look at the challenges and opportunities posed for nature conservation by a rapidly urbanizing world. The book makes the case that conservation and urban leaders are "natural allies." Articles give detailed examples from places as diverse as Cape Town, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, and Sydney, among others. Edited by SEJ member Ted Trzyna. California Institute of Public Affairs, 2005. ISBN 1-880028-11-5. More information. Note: full text is available online free of charge.
Views on the Mississippi: The Photographs of Henry Peter Bosse
Henry Bosse (1845-1903) was a draftsman, mapmaker and photographer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during its transformation of the Upper Mississippi River from a slow-moving, braided, island-filled stream to an industrial waterway. His photographs, worth thousands of dollars on the open market, document the changes in the river in the 1880s and 1890s in this coffee table book. By Mark Neuzil. Forward by Merry A. Foresta. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8166-3648-6.
Weeds of the Woods — Small Trees and Shrubs of the Eastern Forest
Originally published in 1984, this book by Glen Blouin was intended as an educational tool to alert advocates of forestry herbicides to the value of the small trees and shrubs they were attempting to eliminate in their efforts to encourage the growth of commercial "crop" trees. It describes, with accompanying color photos, the leaf, stem, flower, fruit, and winter twig as an aid to identification of twenty common forest and forest-edge species in eastern North America. It describes their value as wildlife habitat, their niche in the ecosystem, potential value as hardy native ornamentals, and their use by eastern tribes — Mi'kmaq and Malisete — for food, shelter, and most importantly, natural medicine. The book has been reprinted countless times, and has become somewhat of a nature classic in Atlantic Canada. Nimbus Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-55109-504-1. 125 pages.
In Whale, Joe Roman explores the role of cetaceans in human history, mythology, literature, commerce, and science. Using illustrations from Stone Age carvings to recent underwater photographs, this book shows how our perceptions of whales have changed over the centuries, from mythological monster, to economic resource, to the current fascination with whale intelligence and song. Whale will appeal to whale watchers as well as marine historians and anyone studying cultural history and the natural sciences. Paperback. Reaktion Books, 2006. ISBN 1861892462. More information.
Woodpeckers of North America is the definitive book on this remarkable group of birds. It describes their history, habits, adaptations and future prospects, and is richly illustrated with color photographs and line drawings. In addition to chapters on anatomy, communication, nesting, feeding, community ecology and conservation, this fact-filled book also features detailed profiles of all 28 North American species, including the recently rediscovered ivory-billed woodpecker. By Frances Backhouse. Firefly Books, 2005. ISBN 1554070465. More information.
WorldChanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century
WorldChanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century is a compendium of the most innovative solutions, ideas and inventions emerging today for building a sustainable, livable, prosperous future. According to Bill McKibben, the book "is nothing less than The Whole Earth Catalog, that hippie bible, retooled for the iPod generation...[I]t's a compendium of everything a younger generation of environmental activists has to offer: creativity, digital dexterity, networking ability, an Internet-era optimism about the future, and a deep concern about not only green issues but related questions of human rights, poverty, and social justice." SEJ member Emily Gertz, a writer for the web site WorldChanging.com on which the book is based, and managing editor of the new spinoff site WorldChanging NYC, has contributed to sections including "the future of food," "preserving barnyard biodiversity," and restoration ecology. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2006. Hardcover, 600pp. ISBN 0810930951. More information.
What Love Can't Do
What Love Can't Do explores family relationships against a dramatic background of environmental collapse due to climate change. Set in 2049 as global warming drives American refugees north to Canada, fuel is in short supply and disease flourishes, the book covers three generations of women trying to find each other in the ensuing chaos. Martin A. Levin, Professor of Political Science at Brandeis University says of the book, "I like the idea of an apocalyptic chaos that is not about bombs, macho guys, and machine guns, but about plausible outcomes of policies that have been and are being made by our government. It all comes across as dry arguments over the language of policy in Senate committees so I don't think people realize what it could actually mean." By Kitty Beer. More info. Review copies. Plain View Press, 2006. ISBN 1-891386-54-9. Cover painting is "Earth Singing to Herself" by Susan Cohen Thompson.