333. Books on the economics of land & energy
Douglas Brinkley The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom, 2012.
History professor Douglas Brinkley chronicles the history of Alaska’s wilderness including the Klondike Gold Rush and the Exxon-Valdez disaster. He then goes on to examine the current battle to preserve these landscapes. The stakes are higher than many of us realize.
Paul Greenberg Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, 2010.
An avid fisherman and award-winning writer, Paul Greenberg takes a long look at the place of salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna in our history and our present. He travels around the world visiting fishing farms and to wilderness areas to see how these fish are currently grown and how pollutants like PCBs and mercury are affecting them. He makes a plea for preserving wild fish and how we can make the oceans safe for them again.
Miriam Horn Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the Heartland, 2016.
While the men and women featured in Miriam Horn’s book don’t consider themselves environmentalists, they work hard to preserve the land they love. Looking at the landscapes they inhabit, they do what they can to leave their natural surroundings in good shape for the generations that follow.
Michael Lanza Before They’re Gone: A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks, 2012.
After years of hearing dire predictions from climate scientists, outdoor athlete Michael Lanza decided to take his two children, Nate, aged 9, and Alex, aged 7, to as many of the endangered places as he could fit into a year of travel. He relates their time spent in the wild, from sea kayaking in Alaska to canoeing in the Everglades.
Farley Mowat Sea of Slaughter, 1984.
Canadian conservationist Farley Mowat examined environmental exploitation from Cape Cod to Labrador in the late 20th century. His outrage at the damage done to the birds, fish, and mammals inspired a change in conservation policies.
Andrew Nikiforuk Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider’s Stand Against the World’s Most Powerful Industry, 2014.
Canadian investigative journalist Andrew Nikiforuk uncovers the effects of fracking on the Candian landscape. He focuses on the experiences of biologist Jessica Ernst whose well water was poisoned by the secret fracking around her home.
Stephen R. Palumbi The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival, 2010.
Monterey was a beautiful natural paradise before the 20th century by which time it had become lined with sardine factories and largely devoid of wildlife, as depicted by John Steinbeck in Cannery Row. When the factories closed, they left behind a wasteland. But the story didn’t end there. Stephen R. Palumbi tells how the remaining residents worked together to restore the coast, turning it into a thriving natural community once again.
Marc Reisner Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, 1986.
Environmentalist Marc Reisner wrote this prophetic book about the American West. Water diversion and river damming to bring water to ever-growing cities like Los Angeles produced devastating impacts on the environment. After documenting battles between government agencies and the practices of corrupt politicians for over a decade, Reisner highlighted the price now being paid.
Heather Shumaker Saving Acadia: A Story of Conservation and Community in the Great Lakes, 2017.
In providing this case study of environmental conservation, Heather Shumaker provides a riveting adventure story spanning forty years. The tale covers the history of a Lake Michigan sand dune and the local people who fight a giant corporation to save it.
Edward O. Wilson The Diversity of Life, 1992.
Edward O. Wilson tells the story of evolution and the diversity of life forms on the planet. He points out that once a species is gone, it is lost forever, leaving an irreplaceable hole in the fabric of its ecosystem. Finally, he outlines shifts in policy needed to protect as many species as possible.
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