Tag Archives: #environment

Unravelling the climate change debate

11 years ago, Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth burst into our consciousness, raising climate change awareness everywhere, promising to be the tipping point towards greater environmental protection.  Fast forward to today, and what seemed like a simple scientific observation has morphed into a bitter political dispute that stifles action.  As the issues surrounding climate change become more complex and emotive, how do we separate the facts from the manipulation?  These books can help you analyse, unravel and understand the complexities of climate change:

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power by Al Gore

An Inconvenient Sequel is a timely update, released 11 years after the influential An Inconvenient Truth.  In these intervening years, a string of extreme weather events – Hurricane Sandy, heat waves, melting polar ice – have caused huge damage, while action has stalled as climate change becomes mired in political controversy.  Hot off the press, An Inconvenient Sequel focusses on possible solutions, particularly around the use of clean energy, and also reflects on the consequences of President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

 

Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know by Joseph Romm

If you want a concise, readable introduction to the issues and consequences of climate change, then this book is for you.  Writing in a Q&A style, Joseph Romm, a physicist and former US Energy Department official, explores key points including basic theory, projected impacts, politics and policies, and possible solutions.  A particularly powerful section explores how climate change will impact everyday decisions for ordinary people, including where to retire, what to study, how to invest, and necessary changes to our diet.

 

 

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman

Eyes Wide Open aims to help teens critically assess the issues and arguments surrounding environmentalism.  Paul Fleischman draws on history, psychology, sociology and economics to explain the origins of key environmental issues including population, energy and climate.  He also tries to explain why different reactions to these issues exist.  A particularly useful feature is its guide on “How to Weigh Information”.  Eyes Wide Open is valuable for readers of any age who want to cut through emotive writing, and develop their own informed views.

Don’t Even Think About it: Why our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change by George Marshall

Most people accept that climate change is real, yet do nothing to stop it.  Don’t Even Think About It suggests that this has an evolutionary origin – human brains are hard-wired to prioritise immediate dangers over future dangers; and they tend to interpret new knowledge through existing frameworks, increasing the likelihood of confirmation bias.  George Marshall interviewed psychologists, evangelicals, activists and conservative politicians in this entertaining yet thought-provoking study on the psychology behind the climate change debate.

On a Farther Shore: the Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson by William Souder

The effect of pesticides on wildlife may seem unrelated to climate change, but our current awareness of the environment is arguably influenced by Rachel Carson’s work. Her seminal book, Silent Spring, inspired the modern environmental movement, and influenced legislative changes and the founding of the EPA.  Rachel Carson was a skilled nature writer who combined lyrical prose with extensive research to make science understandable and compelling.  On a Farther Shore is an engrossing biography that places Rachel Carson’s life and work within the context of the politics and culture of the mid-20th Century.

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

If you don’t normally read non-fiction, there is a growing list of novels to help you visualise the world post-climate change.  The latest novel from SciFi master Kim Stanley Robinson imagines life in New York in 2140 – a sort of “ Super Venice” partially-submerged due to climate change. New York 2140 creates a vivid world packed with details of economics, politics, and the minutiae of life; it is not grim, but offers a critique of capitalism’s role in climate change.

Earth Day: a catalyst for change

April 22 is Earth Day, the event when we tackle the challenges that face us as carers of our planet. However while raising awareness and promoting participation in community and environmental actions, Earth Day is also a catalyst for change.

Many people — from children to the elderly — are inspired by Earth Day and become lifelong fighters for our planet, said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network.

“Millions of people in dozens of different countries will become lifelong environmentalists this and every Earth Day. Hundreds of thousands will be children – our planet’s future,” she said.

More than one billion people throughout 192 countries celebrate Earth Day. These people aren’t special, they’re the same as you and me, yet they are environmental heroes and their stories are well suited to Earth Day. Here are three examples.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:plasticOne Plastic Bag — Miranda Paul

One Plastic Bag is the true story of Isatou Ceesay, the “Queen of Recycling” in the western African country of The Gambia. As a young girl, Isatou noticed how quickly plastic bags had multiplied in her local environment, choking gardens, roads and waterways. The plastic collected water, becoming a haven for deadly mosquitoes that carried disease. Isatou and her friends solved the problem by crafting the plastic into wallets, purses and other items for sale, transforming their local communities in the process.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:cleanComing clean — Ian Kiernan

Famous yachtsman, builder and author, Ian became aware of the amount of rubbish dumped in the world’s oceans while competing in yacht races. Beginning in his hometown of Sydney, Ian started organising teams of people to clean up the mess. His determination and leadership has now seen the Clean Up campaign go international.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:ChapterChapter One — Thankyou

Daniel Flynn and his colleagues in the Thankyou. team have set up a remarkable charity, the story of which is documented in the book Chapter One. The book tells the story of the Thankyou social enterprise which has achieved enormous success by providing an alternative in such products as snack bars, bottled water, cereals, soaps and sanitisers. Funds raised from sales go towards charitable causes and consumers can track the impact of their purchases through a unique code on each product.

These are just three examples of ordinary folk who have become true leaders, true activists for our planet. Through their books, we can see how they continue to change the society in which we live.  Why not use these people as examples of how you can make a difference this Earth Day and beyond?

The best reads on sustainable living

Taking meaningful steps to reduce our environmental footprint has been top of mind for me over the last few years.  As for how that translates into action, it tends to get overridden by the rush of our lives.  I’ll never be the Felicity Kendall character from ‘The Good Life‘ and raise chickens and goats but I can focus on buying better-produced products and minimise product packaging.

The World Wildlife Foundation have provided an ecological footprint calculator which measures your carbon footprint and also includes steps you can take to reduce your impact on the environment.

Here are our picks for inspiring books about sustainable living (including an E-Book).

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Ecoman by Malcolm Rands

The story of how Malcolm Rands, an organic gardener and hippy from Northland, built the pioneering global brand ecostore. Malcolm Rands started ecostore from New Zealand’s first permaculture eco-village with his wife Melanie in 1993. They sourced local manufacturers to make a range of organic gardening; home cleaning and body care products for the then mail-order business in the dug-out basement of their home. Twenty years on and Malcolm has developed ecostore into a multi-million dollar business.

The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery

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Tim Flannery takes the reader on a journey through history and around the globe as he describes the diversity of the world’s ecosystems and reveals how the earth’s climate has changed, causing devastating changes in the weather, from hurricanes to heatwaves.

 

 

 

 

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein

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In this groundbreaking book, Klein debunks the myths we have been fed about climate change such as that it’s impossible to get off fossil fuels.  Klein challenges these assumptions and clearly articulates the relationship between free-market capitalism, the fossil fuel industry and global warming.  Winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, Observer Book of the Year and New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of the Year.

 

 

Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made by Gaia Vince

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Gaia Vince writes of us entering a new Geological epoch: The Age of Man or Anthropocene.  The changes made by humans over the past few decades have changed the world beyond anything it has seen in its 4.5 billion years.  The impacts of this are that people are finding ingenious ways to solve ongoing crises, such as the retired railway worker who’s building artificial glaciers in the Himalayas.   Winner of the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books 2015.

 

 

Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas

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The title of Lynas’s book, ‘Six Degrees’, refers to the terrifying possibility that average temperatures will rise by up to six degrees within the next hundred years. This is the first time we have had a reliable picture of how the collapse of our civilisation will unfold unless urgent action is taken.  Most vitally, Lynas’s book serves to highlight the fact that the world of 2100 doesn’t have to be one of horror and chaos. With a little foresight, some intelligent strategic planning, and a reasonable dose of good luck, we can at least halt the catastrophic trend into which we have fallen – but the time to act is now.

Homesteading: how a self-reliant outlook is shaping the future of small-scale agriculture

In the early 70s, President Richard Nixon’s Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz called for American farmers to “get big or get out”. This signified the end of New Deal-style rural assistance programs and ushered in the start of big agriculture in the United States.

However while agribusiness has since become dominant, the love of independent, small-scale farming has never died. The trend in recent decades towards homesteading, or self sufficiency on a small acreage, has borne this out.

Homesteading can mean a number of things to different people, though independence is always the key.

  • Organic food. Producing food the old-fashioned way: organic and unprocessed. Traditional food preservation practices may also be incorporated.
  • Sustainability. Economically viable and environmentally sound, a sustainable small farm is the aim of most homesteaders.
  • Renewable energy. Many homesteaders look to produce much of their energy through clean, renewable energy to reduce their reliance on electricity grids.
  • Philosophy/lifestyle. Like Walt Whitman, many homesteaders return to the land for health, philosophical and environmental benefits.

Homesteading in the US has grown from a fringe movement to one where self sufficiency and growing foods the traditional way has become a viable, even profitable, concern for many people.

The movement can be traced to pioneers such as UK author John Seymour whose work “The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency” has inspired many to return to the land.

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Many homesteaders follow the design principles of permaculture as outlined in David Holmgren’s Permaculture Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability.

 

Other publications such as Ron Macher’s “Making your small farm profitable” have concentrated on the profitability and availability of credit for small farms and homesteads.

 

Whether the aim is to grow organic food, disconnect from the grid or a retreat from city life, homesteading has proved a viable alternative to reliance on supermarkets, big power companies and big city living.