The 2012 New Earth Archive Booklist

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In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
Michael Pollan

Penguin Press HC, The; 1ST edition (January 1, 2008)

What to eat, what not to eat, and how to think about health: a manifesto for our times. Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated, and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists-all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion. As a result, we face today a complex culinary landscape dense with bad advice and foods that are not “real.” These “edible foodlike substances” are often packaged with labels bearing health claims that are typically false or misleading. Indeed, real food is fast disappearing from the marketplace, to be replaced by “nutrients,” and plain old eating by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals. 

The Future of Life
Edward O. Wilson

Knopf; 1 edition (January 8, 2002)

From one of the world’s most influential scientists (and two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning author) comes his most timely and important book yet: an impassioned call for quick and decisive action to save Earth’s biological heritage, and a plan to achieve that rescue.Today we understand that our world is infinitely richer than was ever previously guessed. Yet it is so ravaged by human activity that half its species could be gone by the end of the present century. These two contrasting truths—unexpected magnificence and underestimated peril—have become compellingly clear during the past two decades of research on biological diversity.

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution
Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins
Back Bay Books; 1st edition (December 1, 2008)

Most businesses still operate according to a world view that hasn’t changed since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Then, natural resources were abundant and labor was the limiting factor of production. But now, there’s a surplus of people, while natural capital natural resources and the ecological systems that provide vital life-support services is scarce and relatively expensive. In this groundbreaking blueprint for a new economy, three leading business visionaries explain how the world is on the verge of a new industrial revolution.

Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
Bill McKibben
Times Books; First Edition edition (April 13, 2010)

Twenty years ago, with The End of Nature, Bill McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about global warming. Those warnings went mostly unheeded; now, he insists, we need to acknowledge that we’ve waited too long, and that massive change is not only unavoidable but already under way. Our old familiar globe is suddenly melting, drying, acidifying, flooding, and burning in ways that no human has ever seen. We’ve created, in very short order, a new planet, still recognizable but fundamentally different. We may as well call it Eaarth.

Thinking in Systems: A Primer
Donella H. Meadows
Chelsea Green Publishing (December 3, 2008)

Some of the biggest problems facing the world–war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation–are essentially system failures. They cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking. Edited by the Sustainability Institute’s Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.

Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity
James C. Hansen
Bloomsbury USA; First American Edition edition (December 8, 2009)

In Storms of My Grandchildren, Dr. James Hansen—the nation’s leading scientist on climate issues—speaks out for the first time with the full truth about global warming: The planet is hurtling even more rapidly than previously acknowledged to a climatic point of no return. Although the threat of human-caused climate change is now widely recognized, politicians have failed to connect policy with the science, responding instead with ineffectual remedies dictated by special interests. Hansen shows why President Obama’s solution, cap-and-trade, won’t work; why we must phase out all coal, and why 350 ppm of carbon dioxide is a goal we must achieve if our children and grandchildren are to avoid global meltdown and the storms of the book’s title.

Biomimicy: Innovation Inspired by Nature
by Janine M. Benyus

William Morrow Paperbacks (September 17, 2002)

If chaos theory transformed our view of the universe, biomimicry is transforming our life on Earth. Biomimicry is innovation inspired by nature – taking advantage of evolution’s 3.8 billion years of R&D since the first bacteria. Biomimics study nature’s best ideas: photosynthesis, brain power, and shells – and adapt them for human use. They are revolutionizing how we invent, compute, heal ourselves, harness energy, repair the environment, and feed the world. Janine Benyus takes us into the lab and out in the field with cutting-edge researchers as they stir vats of proteins to unleash their computing power; analyse how electrons zipping around a leaf cell convert sunlight into fuel in trillionths of a second; discover miracle drugs by watching what chimps eat when they’re sick; study the hardy prairie as a model for low-maintenance agriculture; and more.

Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation
Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
Bantam; 1St Edition (January 12, 2010)

From a pioneer in the field of mental health comes a groundbreaking book on the healing power of “mindsight,” the potent skill that is the basis for both emotional and social intelligence. Mindsight allows you to make positive changes in your brain–and in your life.A Harvard-trained physician, Dr. Siegel is one of the revolutionary global innovators in the integration of brain science into the practice of psychotherapy. Using case histories from his practice, he shows how, by following the proper steps, nearly everyone can learn how to focus their attention on the internal world of the mind in a way that will literally change the wiring and architecture of their brain.

Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse
David W. Orr
Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (September 17, 2009)

“The real fault line in American politics is not between liberals and conservatives…. It is, rather, in how we orient ourselves to the generations to come who will bear the consequences, for better and for worse, of our actions.” So writes David Orr in Down to the Wire, a sober and eloquent assessment of climate destabilization and an urgent call to action. Orr describes how political negligence, an economy based on the insatiable consumption of trivial goods, and a disdain for the well-being of future generations have brought us to the tipping point that biologist Edward O. Wilson calls “the bottleneck.” Due to our refusal to live within natural limits, we now face a long emergency of rising temperatures, rising sea-levels, and a host of other related problems that will increasingly undermine human civilization

The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality
Dalai Lama
Morgan Road Books; First Edition edition (September 13, 2005)

Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Niels Bohr, Einstein. Their insights shook our perception of who we are and where we stand in the world, and in their wake have left an uneasy coexistence: science vs. religion, faith vs. empirical inquiry. Which is the keeper of truth? Which is the true path to understanding reality? After forty years of study with some of the greatest scientific minds, as well as a lifetime of meditative, spiritual, and philosophic study, the Dalai Lama presents a brilliant analysis of why all avenues of inquiry—scientific as well as spiritual—must be pursued in order to arrive at a complete picture of the truth. Through an examination of Darwinism and karma, quantum mechanics and philosophical insight into the nature of reality, neurobiology and the study of consciousness, the Dalai Lama draws significant parallels between contemplative and scientific examinations of reality.

Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food
Pamela C. Ronald & Raoul W. Adamchak
Oxford University Press, USA (March 19, 2008)

In modern agricultural politics, organic farming and genetic engineering occupy opposite ends of the spectrum. In the Ronald-Adamchak household, the world is not so black and white. Ronald is a professor of plant pathology at the University of California, Davis. Adamchak manages the student-run organic farm on campus. Together, they’re exploring the juncture where their methods can (and they argue, should) meet to ensure environmentally sustainable food production. Revealing common principles and “leveling the playing field,” this book roughly chronicles one year in the lives of the Ronald-Adamchak family. Through dialogue with friends and family, the authors thoughtfully explore the use of GE agriculture and the concerns expressed by consumers

Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization
Lester Brown
W. W. Norton & Company; Substantially Revised edition (October 5, 2009)

As fossil fuel prices rise, oil insecurity deepens, and concerns about climate change cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new energy economy is emerging. Wind, solar, and geothermal energy are replacing oil, coal, and natural gas, at a pace and on a scale we could not have imagined even a year ago. For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, we have begun investing in energy sources that can last forever. Plan B 4.0 explores both the nature of this transition to a new energy economy and how it will affect our daily lives.

The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warrning
James Lovelock
Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (April 27, 2010)

Celebrities drive hybrids, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, and supermarkets carry no end of so-called “green” products. And yet the environmental crisis is only getting worse. In The Vanishing Face of Gaia, the eminent scientist James Lovelock argues that the earth is lurching ever closer to a permanent “hot state” – and much more quickly than most specialists think. There is nothing humans can do to reverse the process; the planet is simply too overpopulated to halt its own destruction by greenhouse gases. In order to survive, mankind must start preparing now for life on a radically changed planet. The meliorist approach outlined in the Kyoto Treaty must be abandoned in favor of nuclear energy and aggressive agricultural development on the small areas of earth that will remain arable.

The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability
James Gustave Speth
Yale University Press (March 10, 2009)

How serious are the threats to our environment? Here is one measure of the problem: if we continue to do exactly what we are doing, with no growth in the human population or the world economy, the world in the latter part of this century will be unfit to live in. Of course human activities are not holding at current levels—they are accelerating, dramatically—and so, too, is the pace of climate disruption, biotic impoverishment, and toxification. In this book Gus Speth, author of Red Sky at Morning and a widely respected environmentalist, begins with the observation that the environmental community has grown in strength and sophistication, but the environment has continued to decline, to the point that we are now at the edge of catastrophe.

Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
Steven Johnson
Scribner (August 28, 2001)

This book is about the mystery of why the whole is sometimes smarter than the sum of its parts. Emergence is what happens when an interconnected system of relatively simple elements self-organizes to form more intelligent, more adaptive higher-level behavior. It’s a bottom-up model; rather than being engineered by a general or a master planner, emergence begins at the ground level. Systems that at first glance seem vastly different — ant colonies, human brains, cities, immune systems — all turn out to follow the rules of emergence. In each of these systems, agents residing on one scale start producing behavior that lies a scale above them: ants create colonies, urbanites create neighborhoods.  Steven Johnson, acclaimed as a “cultural critic with a poet’s heart” (“The Village Voice), takes readers on an eye-opening intellectual journey from the discovery of emergence to its applications.

Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet
Tim Jackson
Routledge; 1 edition (October 16, 2009)

Is more economic growth the solution? Will it deliver prosperity and well-being for a global population projected to reach nine billion? In this explosive book, Tim Jackson, a top sustainability adviser to the UK government, makes a compelling case against continued economic growth in developed nations. No one denies that development is essential for poorer nations. But in the advanced economies there is mounting evidence that ever-increasing consumption adds little to human happiness and may even impede it. More urgently, it is now clear that the ecosystems that sustain our economies are collapsing under the impacts of rising consumption. Unless we can radically lower the environmental impact of economic activity – and there is no evidence to suggest that we can – we will have to devise a path to prosperity that does not rely on continued growth.

Whole Earth Discipline: an Ecopragmatist Manifesto
Stewart Brand
Viking Adult (October 15, 2009)

An icon of the environmental movement outlines a provocative approach for reclaiming our planet. According to Stewart Brand, a lifelong environmentalist who sees everything in terms of solvable design problems, three profound transformations are under way on Earth right now. Climate change is real and is pushing us toward managing the planet as a whole. Urbanization-half the world’s population now lives in cities, and eighty percent will by midcentury-is altering humanity’s land impact and wealth. And biotechnology is becoming the world’s dominant engineering tool. In light of these changes, Brand suggests that environmentalists are going to have to reverse some longheld opinions and embrace tools that they have traditionally distrusted. Only a radical rethinking of traditional green pieties will allow us to forestall the cataclysmic deterioration of the earth’s resources.

Thinking, Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition (October 25, 2011)

Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology that challenged the rational model of judgment and decision making, is one of our most important thinkers. His ideas have had a profound and widely regarded impact on many fields—including economics, medicine, and politics—but until now, he has never brought together his many years of research and thinking in one book.In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. 

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming
Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. M. Conway

Bloomsbury Press, 1 Edition (May 24, 2011)

The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on such areas as public health, environmental science, and issues affecting quality of life. Our scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers.Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Remarkably, the same individuals surface repeatedly—some of the same figures who have claimed that the science of global warming is “not settled” denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. “Doubt is our product,” wrote one tobacco executive. These “experts” supplied it.

Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It
Jeffrey D. Clements and Bill Moyers
Berrett-Koehler Publishers (January 9, 2012)

This is the first practical guide for every citizen on the problem of corporate personhood and the tools we have to overturn it. Jeff Clements explains why the Citizen’s United case is the final win in a campaign for corporate domination of the state that began in the 1970s under Richard Nixon. More than this, Clements shows how unfettered corporate rights will impact public health, energy policy, the environment, and the justice system. Where Thom Hartmann’s Unequal Protection provides a much-needed detailed legal history of corporate personhood, Corporations Are Not People answers the reader’s question: “What does Citizens United mean to me?” And, even more important, it provides a solution: a Constitutional amendment, included in the book, which would reverse Citizens United. The book’s ultimate goal is to give every citizen the tools and talking points to overturn corporate personhood state by state, community by community with petitions, house party kits, draft letters, shareholder resolutions, and much more.  

 

Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi
Plume (April 29, 2003) 

A cocktail party. A terrorist cell. Ancient bacteria. An international conglomerate. All are networks, and all are a part of a surprising scientific revolution. Albert-László Barabási, the nation’s foremost expert in the new science of networks, takes us on an intellectual adventure to prove that social networks, corporations, and living organisms are more similar than previously thought. Grasping a full understanding of network science will someday allow us to design blue-chip businesses, stop the outbreak of deadly diseases, and influence the exchange of ideas and information. Just as James Gleick brought the discovery of chaos theory to the general public, Linked tells the story of the true science of the future.

The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (Transition Guides)
Rob Hopkins and Richard Heinberg
Chelsea Green (August 10, 2008)

We live in an oil-dependent world, arriving at this level of dependency in a very short space of time by treating petroleum as if it were in infinite supply. Most of us avoid thinking about what happens when oil runs out (or becomes prohibitively expensive), but The Transition Handbookshows how the inevitable and profound changes ahead can have a positive outcome. These changes can lead to the rebirth of local communities that will grow more of their own food, generate their own power, and build their own houses using local materials. They can also encourage the development of local currencies to keep money in the local area. There are now over 30 “transition towns” in the UK, Australia and New Zealand with more joining as the idea takes off. They provide valuable experience and lessons-learned for those of us on this side of the Atlantic. With little proactive thinking at the governmental level, communities are taking matters into their own hands and acting locally. If your town is not a transition town, this upbeat guide offers you the tools for starting the process.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
Yale University Press; 1 edition (April 8, 2008) 

Every day, we make decisions on topics ranging from personal investments to schools for our children to the meals we eat to the causes we champion. Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. The reason, the authors explain, is that, being human, we all are susceptible to various biases that can lead us to blunder. Our mistakes make us poorer and less healthy; we often make bad decisions involving education, personal finance, health care, mortgages and credit cards, the family, and even the planet itself. Thaler and Sunstein invite us to enter an alternative world, one that takes our humanness as a given. They show that by knowing how people think, we can design choice environments that make it easier for people to choose what is best for themselves, their families, and their society.

 

The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality
Brian Greene
Knopf; 1st edition (February 10, 2004)

From Brian Greene, one of the world’s leading physicists, comes a grand tour of the universe that makes us look at reality in a completely different way. Space and time form the very fabric of the cosmos. Yet they remain among the most mysterious of concepts. Is space an entity? Why does time have a direction? Could the universe exist without space and time? Can we travel to the past? Greene uses these questions to guide us toward modern science’s new and deeper understanding of the universe. From Newton’s unchanging realm in which space and time are absolute, to Einstein’s fluid conception of spacetime, to quantum mechanics’ entangled arena where vastly distant objects can bridge their spatial separation to instantaneously coordinate their behavior or even undergo teleportation, Greene reveals our world to be very different from what common experience leads us to believe.

Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era
Amory Lovins, Marvin Odum and John W. Rowe
Chelsea Green Publishing; 1st edition (October 15, 2011)

Imagine fuel without fear. No climate change. No oil spills, no dead coalminers, no dirty air, no devastated lands, no lost wildlife. No energy poverty. No oil-fed wars, tyrannies, or terrorists. No leaking nuclear wastes or spreading nuclear weapons. Nothing to run out. Nothing to cut off. Nothing to worry about. Just energy abundance, benign and affordable, for all, forever.That richer, fairer, cooler, safer world is possible, practical, even profitable-because saving and replacing fossil fuels now works better and costs no more than buying and burning them. Reinventing Fire shows how business-motivated by profit, supported by civil society, sped by smart policy-can get the US completely off oil and coal by 2050, and later beyond natural gas as well.

 

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