4 Excellent Books to Read About Environmental Issues
You may be getting tired of the light summer reading list your friends recommended and need to absorb something more meaningful and thought-provoking. Instead of a fast-paced mystery novel, you can choose a non-fiction work that focuses on environmental topics. Topics such as species collapse, agricultural decline, climate change, and the misuse of public lands are discussed in four excellent non-fiction works.
1. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction examines how the appearance of humans on the Earth has drastically altered the environment. In each chapter, the author describes a different species that’s on the brink of extinction or is already extinct. The first few chapters deal with the extinct animals throughout history and how humans influenced their demise. The later chapters examine the present-day problems with extinction. Rather than merely researching her topic, Kolbert traveled to exotic locations like central Panama to experience the species collapse first-hand. In Panama, she visited a golden frog refuge that was attempting to save the species and eventually return it to the wild. The author uses the plight of dying species, some of which existed before the dinosaurs, to demonstrate that human actions are damaging the planet. The frightening tale will persuade you to engage in greener practices like reducing your plastic consumption, limiting vehicle use, and installing solar panels for your home.
2. Against the Grain by Richard Manning
Richard Manning’s Against the Grain explains how modern agriculture evolved from the beginning of civilization to its present-day dominance. The author suggests that humans have damaged the environment by expanding the scope of agriculture and have lost the hunter and gatherer mentality that most humans practiced before civilizations developed. Manning contends that when humans became less reliant on meat and began farming, they became complacent and sedentary. The comfort of agriculture inevitably caused farms to increase in size. The expansion of farmland disrupted the landscape and led to droughts, erosion, and famine. Manning also examines the world’s failed attempts at improving agriculture and how today’s farmers and horticulturalists can repair the damage from the past. With the challenges of global warming, international competition, and rising food and equipment costs, the agricultural world is currently struggling to meet demand, but optimists like Manning concur that improving the agricultural system is possible and necessary.
3. Drawdown by Paul Hawken
Paul Hawken’s Drawdown offers comprehensive solutions to the specific causes of climate change. Hawken uses scientists, researchers, and professionals from an international community to find viable ways that citizens around the world can improve the condition of the planet. The book points out that government and private institutions devoted to environmental solutions can only do so much. Private citizens, regardless of their economic condition, can enact changes on a local level that can make a profound difference. Local improvements made around the world could cumulatively change the planet’s dire course towards eventual ruin. Clean energy solutions, third-world standard of living improvements and land-use methods that reduce carbon emissions are only a few of the topics discussed. Climate change is a stark reality that some hope to ignore, but Hawken offers 100 techniques and solutions to the Earth’s gravest problem for those willing to listen.
4. This Land by Christopher Ketcham
Christopher Ketcham’s This Land describes the mistakes and consequences of government agencies in charge of protecting the lands in the Western United States. Ketcham demonstrates how the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Department of the Interior have failed to protect the wildlife, land, and vegetation of western lands. Although he questioned ecologists, biologists, and environmentalists for his research, Ketcham also reports on the horrific personal experience he witnessed in the west. In one section, he recounts the horror of a western forest on public land that is bulldozed for commercial use. The author contends that land that is available for any American citizen is often taken over by private profiteers. This summer, you can put away your light entertainment and pick up one or more of the four books mentioned in this article. You’ll find that improving the condition of the Earth is not as hard as you think.