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Science


 

The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World

By Michael Pollan

Link:More information at Goodreads

The book that helped make Michael Pollan, the New York Times bestselling author of How to Change Your MindCooked and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, one of the most trusted food experts in America

Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers’ genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires—sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control—with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings. And just as we’ve benefited from these plants, we have also done well by them. So who is really domesticating whom?

 

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

By Dan Egan

Link: More information at Goodreads

Summary: Dan Egan Nimbly splices together history, science, reporting and personal experiences into a taut and cautiously hopeful narrative.… Egan’s book is bursting with life (and yes, death).” ―Robert Moor, New York Times Book Review The Great Lakes―Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior―hold 20 percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water and provide sustenance, work, and recreation for tens of millions of Americans. But they are under threat as never before, and their problems are spreading across the continent. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is prize-winning reporter Dan Egan’s compulsively readable portrait of an ecological catastrophe happening right before our eyes, blending the epic story of the lakes with an examination of the perils they face and the ways we can restore and preserve them for generations to come. New York Times Bestseller, Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Award

 

Draw Down: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

By Paul Hawken

Link: More information at Goodreads

The 100 most substantive solutions to reverse global warming, based on meticulous research by leading scientists and policymakers around the world. They range from clean energy to educating girls in lower-income countries to land use practices that pull carbon out of the air. The solutions exist, are economically viable, and communities throughout the world are currently enacting them with skill and determination. If deployed collectively on a global scale over the next 30 years, they represent a credible path forward, not just to slow the Earth’s warming but to reach drawdown, that point in time when greenhouse gases in the atmosphere peak and begin to decline.

 

 Silent Spring

By Rachel Carson

Link: More information at Goodreads

First published in 1962, Silent Spring alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides, spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. “Silent Spring became a runaway bestseller, with international reverberations . . . [It is] well crafted, fearless and succinct . . . Carson would prevail as one of the greatest nature writers in American letters” (Peter Matthiessen, for Time”s 100 Most Influential People of the Century). This fortieth anniversary edition celebrates Rachel Carson”s watershed book with a new introduction by the author and activist Terry Tempest Williams and a new afterword by the acclaimed Rachel Carson biographer Linda Lear, who tells the story of Carson”s courageous defense of her truths in the face of ruthless assault from the chemical industry in the year following the publication of Silent Spring and before her untimely death in 1964.

 

The Sixth Extinction

By Elizabeth Kolbert

Link: More information at Goodreads

Summary: A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes

Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE, ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW‘S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

 

 

Environment


 

Cowed: The Hidden Impact of 93 Million Cows on America’s Health, Economy, Politics, Culture, and Environment

By Denis Hayes

Link: More information at Goodreads

Summary: In their quest to find fresh solutions to our bovine problem, the authors take us to farms across the country from Vermont to Washington. They visit worm ranchers who compost cow waste, learn that feeding cows oregano yields surprising benefits, talk to sustainable farmers who care for their cows while contributing to their communities, and point toward a future in which we eat less, but better, beef. In a deeply researched, engagingly personal narrative, Denis and Gail Hayes provide a glimpse into what we can do now to provide a better future for cows, humans, and the world we inhabit. They show how our relationship with cows is part of the story of America itself.

 

Desert Solitaire

By Edward Abbey

Link: More information at Goodreads

Hailed by The New York Times as “a passionately felt, deeply poetic book,” the moving autobiographical work of Edward Abbey, considered the Thoreau of the American West, and his passion for the southwestern wilderness.

Desert Solitaire is a collection of vignettes about life in the wilderness and the nature of the desert itself by park ranger and conservationist, Edward Abbey. The book details the unique adventures and conflicts the author faces, from dealing with the damage caused by development of the land or excessive tourism, to discovering a dead body. However Desert Solitaire is not just a collection of one man’s stories, the book is also a philosophical memoir, full of Abbey’s reflections on the desert as a paradox, at once beautiful and liberating, but also isolating and cruel. Often compared to Thoreau’s WaldenDesert Solitaire is a powerful discussion of life’s mysteries set against the stirring backdrop of the American southwestern wilderness.

 

A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest

By William deBuys

Link: More information at Goodreads

Summary: In A Great Aridness, William deBuys paints a compelling picture of what the Southwest might look like when the heat turns up and the water runs out. This semi-arid land, vulnerable to water shortages, rising temperatures, wildfires, and a host of other environmental challenges, is poised to bear the heaviest consequences of global environmental change in the United States. Examining interrelated factors such as vanishing wildlife, forest die backs, and the over-allocation of the already stressed Colorado River–upon which nearly 30 million people depend–the author narrates the landscape’s history–and future. He tells the inspiring stories of the climatologists and others who are helping untangle the complex, interlocking causes and effects of global warming.

 

Satellites in the High Country

By Jason Mark

Link: More information at Goodreads

Summary: In Satellites in the High Country, journalist and adventurer Jason Mark travels beyond the bright lights and certainties of our cities to seek wildness wherever it survives. In California’s Point Reyes National Seashore, a battle over oyster farming and designated wilderness pits former allies against one another, as locals wonder whether wilderness should be untouched, farmed, or something in between. In Washington’s Cascade Mountains, a modern-day wild woman and her students learn to tan hides and start fires without matches, attempting to connect with a primal past out of reach for the rest of society. And in Colorado’s High Country, dark skies and clear air reveal a breathtaking expanse of stars, flawed only by the arc of a satellite passing—beauty interrupted by the traffic of a million conversations. These expeditions to the edges of civilization’s grid show us that, although our notions of pristine nature may be shattering, the mystery of the wild still exists — and in fact, it is more crucial than ever.

 

The Sound of Mountain Water

By Wallace Stegner

Link: More information at Goodreads

Summary: A book of timeless importance about the American West and a modern classic by National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Wallace Stegner. The essays, memoirs, letters, and speeches collected in The Sound of Mountain Water encompass memoir, nature conservation, history, geography, and literature. Compositions delve into the post-World War II boom that brought the Rocky Mountain West–from Montana and Idaho to Utah and Nevada–into the modern age. Other works feature eloquent sketches of the West’s history and environment, directing our imagination to the sublime beauty of such places as Robbers Roost and Glen Canyon. A final section examines the state of Western literature, of the mythical past and the diminished present, and analyzes the difficulties facing any contemporary Western writer.

 

 

Politics


 

Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy

By Hal Harvey

Link:More information at Goodreads

Summary: With the effects of climate change already upon us, the need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions is nothing less than urgent. It’s a daunting challenge, but the technologies and strategies to meet it exist today. A small set of energy policies, designed and implemented well, can put us on the path to a low carbon future. Energy systems are large and complex, so energy policy must be focused and cost-effective. One-size-fits-all approaches simply won’t get the job done. Policymakers need a clear, comprehensive resource that outlines the energy policies that will have the biggest impact on our climate future, and describes how to design these policies well.

 

 

This Changes Everything Capitalism Vs. The Climate

By Naomi Klein

Link: More information at Goodreads

The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems. In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.

 

 

History


 

Angle of Repose

By Wallace Stegner

Link: More information at Goodreads

Summary: An American masterpiece and iconic novel of the West by National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Wallace Stegner—a deeply moving narrative of one family and the traditions of our national past. Lyman Ward is a retired professor of history, recently confined to a wheelchair by a crippling bone disease and dependant on others for his every need.  Amid the chaos of 1970s counterculture he retreats to his ancestral home of Grass Valley, California, to write the biography of his grandmother: an elegant and headstrong artist and pioneer who, together with her engineer husband, made her own journey through the hardscrabble West nearly a hundred years before. In discovering her story he excavates his own, probing the shadows of his experience and the America that has come of age around him.

 

Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water 

By Marc Reisner

Link: More information at Goodreads

“The definitive work on the West’s water crisis.” –Newsweek

Summary: The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecological and economic disaster. In his landmark book, Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city’s growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the competition to transform the West. Based on more than a decade of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden–an Eden that may only be a mirage.

 

 

Wanderlust: A History of Walking

By Rebecca Solnit

Link: More information at Goodreads

Summary: Rebecca Solnit creates a fascinating portrait of the range of possibilities presented by walking. Arguing that the history of walking includes walking for pleasure as well as for political, aesthetic, and social meaning, Solnit focuses on the walkers whose everyday and extreme acts have shaped our culture, from philosophers to poets to mountaineers. She profiles some of the most significant walkers in history and fiction–from Wordsworth to Gary Snyder, from Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet to Andre Breton’s Nadja–finding a profound relationship between walking and thinking and walking and culture. Solnit argues for the necessity of preserving the time and space in which to walk in our ever more car-dependent and accelerated world.

 

 

Memoir


 

 

A Field Guide to Getting Lost 

By Rebecca Solnit

Link: More information at Goodreads

Summary: Written as a series of autobiographical essays, A Field Guide to Getting Lost draws on emblematic moments and relationships in Rebecca Solnit’s life to explore issues of uncertainty, trust, loss, memory, desire, and place. Solnit is interested in the stories we use to navigate our way through the world, and the places we traverse, from wilderness to cities, in finding ourselves, or losing ourselves. While deeply personal, her own stories link up to larger stories, from captivity narratives of early Americans to the use of the color blue in Renaissance painting, not to mention encounters with tortoises, monks, punk rockers, mountains, deserts, and the movie Vertigo. The result is a distinctive, stimulating voyage of discovery.

 

 

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

By Terry Tempest Williams

Link:More information at Goodreads

In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry’s mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that has become a classic.

 

Grades K-3          Grades 4-6        Grades 6-12         Climate Fiction          For Teachers           For Parents       Podcasts      Documentaries and Films      Climate Change in NM

 

 

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