Or, alternately, a list of books for the environmentalist on your holiday list!
Kim asked me if I knew any good books to read about the environment and what we can do to help stall global warming, so I instantly went into research mode . . . which means I sent an email to my brother who’s a biology teacher. He recommended a couple of books and then suggested I get in touch with an old friend of ours, Dan Perlman, who is now a professor of biology and environmental studies at Brandeis. Maybe that should be capitalized? Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies? Either way, you have to admit: the guy’s qualified to recommend books. Hell, he’s qualified to lead the talks in Copenhagen.
Before I list the books he and my brother both recommended, I have to mention that I asked Dan if he had a bookstore to recommend in his neck of the woods. His pick? The New England Mobile Book Fair which, truly faithful readers will remember, was one of the very first Indies I wrote about on this blog. Not as huge a coincidence as you might think, since Dan and I grew up a couple of miles away from each other. Anyway, it’s reassuring: New England Mobile Book Fair is as good as I remember.
Now on to books about the environment. Dan’s recommendations include:
Our Choice by Al Gore. You’ve heard of this guy, right? Just try to get through his book without asking yourself how different the world would be today if he had been president.
Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity by Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein.
Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold. Dan writes: “60 years since it was published, and I still say, ‘Why haven’t we figured that out yet?’ whenever I read it.”
My brother Ted Scovell (a high school biology teacher who’s also on the faculty of the Rockefeller Institute) recommends:
Biodiversity: Exploring Values and Priorities in Conservation by Dan L. Perlman and Glenn Adelson
Blackwell. Scholarly . . . and the author’s name rings a bell.
Practical Ecology for Planners, Developers, and Citizens by Dan L. Perlman and Jeffrey Milder.
No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan. This is probably the closest thing to a “fun read” on this list. Ted just read it and said he liked it.
Ted also said people should read anything–and probably everything–by Bill McKibben or E.O. Wilson. They’re both passionate environmentalists and great writers. The End of Nature is probably McKibben’s best known book, but he has several others.
In scrolling through his titles and their descriptions, I thought E.O. Wilson’s The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth sounded just right for to recommend on this blog: Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “With his usual eloquence, patience and humor, Wilson, our modern-day Thoreau, adds his thoughts to the ongoing conversation between science and religion. Couched in the form of letters to a Southern Baptist pastor, the Pulitzer Prize–winning entomologist pleads for the salvation of biodiversity, arguing that both secular humanists like himself and believers in God acknowledge the glory of nature and can work together to save it.”
So there you go: no more excuses to say, “I just don’t understand why people are worried about global warming. I LIKE warm weather.” Let’s hope the politicians in Copenhagen have made the effort to read some of these books.
Oh, and I wanted to give a shout out to Professor Perlman’s website EcoLibrary which is a source for free educational materials on ecology, conservation and the environment. You can download tons of useful photos and information about the glorious world around us. I recommend it for anyone: it’s fun to click through all the photos, especially the panoramas. They’re unbelievably beautiful and if you actually still know anyone who doesn’t care whether or not we preserve the world around us . . . well, click through a few of these pages and you should be able to open even the most stubborn eyes.