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Jonna Higgins-Freese's Posts

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A review of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Sixty Days and Counting

Sixty Days and Counting, by Kim Stanley Robinson. I waited for the release of Kim Stanley Robinson's new book, Sixty Days and Counting, like a computer geek awaiting the release of the PS3: standing outside the door of the store, in the snow, having cleared my calendar for a few days so I could dive right in. I'm a fan of Robinson's voluminous work because environmental themes usually animate the characters and move the plot. The "Three Californias" trilogy presented "future histories" with different environmental, technical, and social scenarios, while the Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning "Mars" trilogy traced that planet's transformation …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Jonna Higgins-Freese reviews Reinventing Eden by Carolyn Merchant

As an environmentalist who used to work for nuns, I'm fascinated by other enviros' views of religion. Many fear or shun religious practice, and yet religious imagery and themes are prevalent throughout environmental thought, as is evident in a handful of book titles from recent years: The Ecology of Eden, Tinkering with Eden, God's Last Offer, And the Waters Turned to Blood. Reinventing Eden By Carolyn Merchant, Routledge, 304 pages, April 2003 In Reinventing Eden: The Fate of Nature in Western Culture, Carolyn Merchant, an environmental historian at the University of California at Berkeley, analyzes how one religious theme -- …

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Jonna Higgins-Freese reviews The Farm as Natural Habitat by Dana and Laura Jackson

You'll have to forgive the staid title: Right from the start, The Farm as Natural Habitat: Reconnecting Food Systems with Ecosystems is thoroughly Midwestern in tone -- reserved, practical, and down-to-earth. Edited by long-time sustainable-agriculture advocates Dana and Laura Jackson, a mother-daughter team, the essays collected here describe farming practices that mimic and protect natural systems. But if the voice is mild, the message is urgent: Environmentalists must build ties with farmers if we are to grow food without destroying topsoil, poisoning our air and water, and killing wildlife. The Farm as Natural Habitat By Dana and Laura Jackson Island …

Read more: Food

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Jonna Higgins-Freese reviews Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver

Several friends of mine, all of them environmentalists, have told me they picked up Small Wonder, Barbara Kingsolver's most recent collection of essays, but speedily put it down because the book just didn't pull them in. At first, I had the same reaction. And then I realized: small wonder. This book wasn't written for environmentalists. Yet because of Kingsolver's fame and her ability to talk about complex issues in a compelling way, Small Wonder may be more successful at communicating an environmental message to a lay audience than any other book published in recent years. Small Wonder By Barbara Kingsolver …

Read more: Food, Living

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Jonna Higgins-Freese reviews Having Faith by Sandra Steingraber

I am an environmental activist, and for almost a year, my husband and I have struggled to understand how our environmental commitments bear on our decision about whether to have children. So when I picked up Sandra Steingraber's new book Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood,, I was immediately drawn in by the opening sentence: "Every woman who becomes pregnant brings to the experience her various identities." Having FaithBy Sandra Steingraber Perseus books, 288 pages, 2001 In Having Faith, Steingraber weaves together her own identity as an ecologist and her experience of pregnancy and nursing with data from case …

Read more: Living