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 …
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 -- the Christian interpretation of the Genesis story -- has shaped worldviews through history, both mainstream Western views and environmental thinking. The book makes fascinating reading, and her insights might help environmentalists frame more effective messages for the public at large.
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.
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.
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."
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