North Atlantic Books, 2018 ISBN: 978–1623172480 Reviewed by Ian Mowll [...]
Faber & Faber, 2018 ISBN: 978-0571336777 Reviewed by Ian Mowll [...]
Permanent Publications, 2017 ISBN: 978 1 85623 309 [...]
Chelsea Green, 2017 ISBN: 97811603587464 Reviewed by Marian [...]
ECW Press, 2017 ISBN: 9781770412392 Reviewed by Marian Van Eyk McCain [...]
With political leaders who deny climate change, species that are fighting for their very survival, and the planet’s last places of wilderness growing smaller and smaller, it is all to easy to succumb to despair and to give up because, after all, what can a single person do? Well, one person can do a surprising amount. In Nature’s Allies, Larry A. Nielsen uses the stories of eight people to show that through passion and perseverance, we can each be a positive force for change.
The Manual seeks to identify the key elements that enable collaborative groups to thrive, how their healthy development can be facilitated with many practical exercises and rituals drawn from and credited to a wide range of sources. Starhawk illustrates her concepts by applying these elements and processes to a dramatically created fictional co-housing cooperative working its way through difficulties and challenges. And she ends by referring to the amazing levels of global collaboration offered by digital technology and how all organisations must adapt and evolve to the changing contexts of our times.
The decision to have – or not to have—children, says this author, is "a private decision with global consequences." Her book is intended to help those who are involved in making the decision whether or not to remain childless and includes all genders, creeds, cultures and the different reasons for considering this. Her greatest inspiration came from Stephanie Mills’ graduation speech, during the time when the population explosion began to cause concern. Stephanie said, "I am terribly saddened by the fact that the most humane thing for me to do is have no children at all."
Klein's book is crammed with case studies from the frontline of the climate movement – from companies and organisations working on new ‘solutions’ to global warming to the shady coalitions and funding deals that are sealed behind closed doors. It could easily have descended into a depressing catalogue of reasons why we – and the Earth – are doomed, but the main message is one of hope It’s not too late to save the planet if we act now; but the action must be dramatic and all-encompassing.
Spiritual activism is about being both ‘spiritually active,’ i.e. inspiring others, as well as being ‘spiritually grounded,’ i.e. being a compassionate activist with protests and practical action. It has ten chapters covering a wide range of territory, each ending with a case study featuring a well-known person who has been involved in spiritual activism such as Julia Butterfly Hill, Gandhi, Muhammad (pbuh) and Desmond Tutu.
As an environmental lawyer, Canadian writer David Boyd knows full well that much of the environmental news these days is bad news. However he also knows that although news tends to make more compelling headlines than good news, there is good news to be found. Although we have a very, very long way to go, it is a fact that: From air pollution to safe drinking water, from greener cities to renewable energy, we've made remarkable but widely underacknowledged progress. And his aim was to document as many examples of this kind of good news as he could fit between two covers.
‘The Triumph of Seeds: How grains, nuts, kernels, pulses and pips conquered Nature and shaped human history’ by Thor Hanson
Just as William Blake talked about seeing the world in a grain of sand, Thor Hanson is able to see the whole world in a seed. And through his writing, he opens that world to us. From the tiniest, almost invisible seed of an epiphytic orchid to the forty-pound coco de mer, seeds come in all shapes and sizes and colours and employ an amazing diversity of methods for dispersing themselves and finding their way to somewhere they can germinate and grow. On that search and that settlement of seed into soil, now rests the whole of life on land—our own human lives included.
In this book, Donnachadh describes his time in the Liberal Democratic Party, rising to the position of Deputy Chair and his subsequent disillusionment with corporate greed, politics and the wider economic system. The book is well researched and wide ranging; covering such subjects as tax avoidance, the press, politics and unfettered capitalism.
‘Collected Papers of Michael E. Soulé: Early Years in Modern Conservation Biology’ by Michael, E. Soulé
This book contains skilfully collected presentations of the many faceted concerns of conservation combined with peer-reviewed scientific research in the broadest areas of biology, environmental studies and genetics. With well prepared overviews and summary paragraphs of the fourteen presented papers, the book serves as an essential text book for students of conservation biology and also as a fascinating general knowledge source for any layperson interested in the multitude of synchronous and symbiotic relationships within the plant and animal kingdoms and in the concept of the planet as a living, holistic being. It is a collection that would provide stimulating reading for anyone seeking deeper understanding of the ways in which the strands of the web of life are woven together.
‘Love in the Age of Ecological Apocalypse: Cultivating the Relationships We Need to Thrive’ by Carolyn Baker
Carolyn Baker is one of a growing band of writers who are facing up to the seriousness and scale of the ecological and economic collapse our planet is currently facing and 'telling it like it is.' The sort of world that humans might build out of the ruins of the old one will depend hugely, if not entirely, on our relationships. This includes our relationships with loved ones, with our neighbours and friends, with our children and our elders, ourselves, our bodies, our fellow creatures, the rest of Nature, and the Earth itself.
‘Protecting the Wild: Parks and Wilderness, the Foundation For Conservation’ by George Wuerthner, Eileen Crist, and Tom Butler (Editors)
As John Terborgh points out in his Foreword: One of the great challenges to be faced by conservationists now and in the future will be that of clarifying in the public mind the distinction between ecosystem services and biodiversity protection. A program can, in some cases, provide both. In this book we hear the voices of several dozen conservationists from around the world, including well-known spokespeople like Jane Goodall and George Monbiot, about how these challenges are being met.
Most of us are unaware of the extent to which humans are destroying the ecosystems of our planet's vast seas and oceans. But for David Helvarg, who loves the sea and loves to swim and surf and dive and really interact with the water—and who is also a trained journalist with deep passions and an enquiring mind—there is no way to ignore the tragedy that is happening in that vast, salty realm and to all who live there, from the tiniest krill to the largest whale. And no way to shirk the task of telling the world about it.
I have not always been a fan of Russell Brand’s comedy; the little I heard did not strike a chord with me. And so I was surprised to read his book Revolution which is both refreshing and insightful. Rather like the Court Jester of the Middle Ages who had the King’s ear – Russell Brand is the modern day Jester – telling us how things really are and prodding us to change.
Sustainable World Sourcebook: Critical Issues, Viable Solutions, Resources for Action (4th Edition, 2014)
If you wanted a comprehensive yet succinct overview to present to someone with scant knowledge of social/environmental issues, to anyone interested in sustainability, or to a group looking for action ideas and/or discussion topics, this would be your perfect resource book. It is, in fact, a practical and inspirational one-stop shop for all things green. It covers social justice, energy, climate change, economics, communities and all aspects of the environmental issues that our world is currently facing. Inspirational and potentially attitude-changing.
As the title suggests, this is not a book about climate science. It’s about humans and the weird but inescapable fact that we, as the species whose actions have contributed so heavily to climate change, seem utterly incapable not only of addressing the issue but even of admitting that it exists. Why? Why don’t we all join the dots and amend our lifestyles to lower carbon emissions? Marshall is convinced that the real answers to do not lie in the things that drive us apart so much as the things we all share: our common psychology, our perception of risk, and our deepest instincts to defend our family and tribe. This book, the result of years of research, provides a full and fascinating explanation of this phenomenon and what we might do about it.
'Occupy Spirituality' is a superb dialogue between two important contemporary progressive Christian thinkers and activists. Though the subtitle partly suggests the book is focussed on the younger generation, there is nothing within the pages that is not relevant to us all, to the times in which we live and to the materialistic greed, bigotry and complacency that is bringing about the greatest spiritual crisis human and more-than-human life have ever faced. If this gives the impression this might a negative read, then it would be a wrong one. The book is truly inspirational. This is a spirituality that is prepared to get its hands dirty, to do something and work towards positive changes.
An inspiring collection of personal stories, told by sixteen people who are each, in their own individual ways, involved in working towards what Joanna Macy calls 'The Great Turning,' i.e. the movement away from the madness of our materialist, militaristic, industrial culture and towards the sanity of living sustainably and co-operatively on our planet.
Ever since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, there have been many more books on our desecration of the environment in the name of materialist profit. There is a massive amount of data in this book, also, about the harm we are doing to our Earth, but it is presented here in a readable way. And despite this despairing message of the Earth in peril, the final 80 pages of this book provide a guide to ways each individual can make a positive contribution to survival.
Our planet is in crisis, largely as a result of human actions and attitudes over the last few centuries. This is a book about how we can develop spiritually and try to avoid what seems to be the impending extinction of humankind.
Lucy Moore, an environmental and public policy mediator with twenty-five years of experience, has written this book of what are basically ‘teaching stories’ as a way of sharing some of what she has learned in her work at the front lines of conflict resolution. Her work is done mostly in the American Southwest but the lessons we can learn from her are widely applicable to environmental conflict anywhere on the planet.
Our present ecological crisis—accelerating climate change, species depletion, pollution and acidification of the oceans — is the greatest man-made disaster this planet has ever faced. There is a pressing need to articulate a spiritual response to this ecological crisis if we are to help bring the world as a living whole back into balance and in this book, under the editorship of Sufi teacher and author Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, twenty powerful voices take it in turns to do that, each in his or her own way.
As well as easy access to the places we go to for shopping, services, leisure and socializing, human beings need comfort, cosiness, connectedness, clean air, beauty, lovability, safety, atmosphere, diversity and other subtle qualities of place that are hard to name but which we all recognize with our hearts. This book is about turning our existing cities into dense, mixed-use urban environments with high ‘walkability,’ excellent public transit, cycle paths etc., along with greening and revitalizing run-down neighbourhoods and finding ways to retrofit existing suburbs to cope with changing demographics, changing work patterns and dwindling natural resources.
‘Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth’ by George Wuerthner (Author, Editor), Eileen Crist (Editor) and Tom Butler (Editor)
Anthropocentrism, instead of gradually going away as so many of us have hoped, is sneaking in again by the back door. The people letting it in are not the familiar enemy who rip the tops of mountains and drill the Arctic but a small bunch of people who are billing themselves as the ‘new environmentalists’ (also known as ‘Anthropocene-boosters’) and who are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
‘Hosting Transformation: Stories from the edge of changemaking’ by Betsy McCall and Joos van den Dool
Education like all sectors of our economy and society is undergoing huge changes. On the pioneering edge of this process is a group of organisations across Europe exploring and experimenting with what education and learning might look like in these times. McCall and van den Dool have woven together threads of stories from many people hosting innovative educational experiences.
Drawing on the teachings of Buddha, Ghandi, Rabindranath Tagore and E.F. Schumacher, Satish Kumar outlines a spiritual vision of sustainability in which we can learn from Nature as well as about Nature. Offering practical guidance for how we can achieve this vision, Satish teaches that only love and reverence and not fear will lead to long term sustainability.
South African lawyer Cormac Cullinan describes all the ways in which human laws and governance systems need be designed to promote human behaviour that contributes to the health and integrity not only of human society, but also of the wider communities, and of the Earth itself.
Permanent Publications, 20141, 66 pp ISBN 978-1-85623-170-1 Reviewed by [...]
Rather than seeing the bare hills of mid-Wales as beautiful in their remoteness George Monbiot sees them as ruined, ‘sheepwrecked’ landscapes and re-imagines them as they once were—and could be again—thickly forested and rich with wildlife. His biggest dream is the restoration to completeness of fractured ecosystems by the eventual re-introduction of the wolf, the lynx and other large mammals to our British landscapes in the same way as this is already being done in other parts of Europe and in certain areas of North America.
After reviewing what is wrong with today's world, Nixon argues for a sustainable and just economy, involving reform of the large global financial institutions currently dominated by the interests of big business and rich countries. He proposes unlocking democracy by moving to a more participatory system, with more power at a local level. He also illustrates how the money currently poured into the military machine could be used for conflict resolution and war prevention. Additionally, he addresses the issues of eradicating world hunger, and creating sustainable (and beautiful) towns and cities.
It is so easy to become fearful, isolated and despondent about the enormity of the environmental and social challenges that we, as a human race, are currently facing. This book tells us how we can sustain ourselves through these challenges and live positive, compassionate and hope filled lives
Whereas Louv's earlier book Last Child in the Woods pointed out the problem of Nature- Deficiency Disorder in children, Louv’s new book The Nature Principle points out that adults themselves can suffer from the same disorder—and many already are. Though we tend to forget it, we too are animals; we co-evolved with the natural world and we need it as much as ever. Being isolated from green and growing things predisposes us to a range of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, behaviour disorders, depression and a lack of connection with community and place. We ignore these warnings at our peril.
This book addresses the elements in human nature that either propel one in the direction of living in harmony with the earth or, as is the usual case, carry on as though a connection didn’t exist.
George Monbiot researches the subject of climate change in depth, he cuts through preconceptions and gets to the root of the problem. A breath of oxygen rich fresh air. He shows how we can reduce carbon emissions by 90% by 2030 – this is the level he suggests we need to reach to avoid runaway global warming and the collapse of large eco-systems.
David Korten wrote this book several years ago, but it is probably even more relevant – and urgent – today. He sees us at a crossroads, and the choice we make will result in either The Great Turning of the title, or The Great Unravelling.
When she was researching for her landmark book Diet for a Small Planet back in 1970, Frances Moore Lappé realized that it is we human beings ourselves who create the problems, such as scarcity, that we find so troubling. “While most of us think that ‘seeing is believing’… no, for human beings ‘believing is seeing.’ Our core ideas about how the world works determine, literally, what we can see and what we can't.”
This book opens with words from the Tao Te Ching “He who knows he has enough is rich” ... and then continues ... “We have some evolving to do. And quickly. We need to develop a sense of ‘enoughness.’”
Healing, at least in part, can come through making sense of suffering and learning from it. So, for those who have suffered from mental ill-health or those who meet people who do, this book is particularly helpful.
The story of this book is miraculous in itself. The fable and the message it so clearly contains date from over a thousand years ago. The origins of the story were Indian, but it was actually written down for the first time in the tenth century C.E. in Arabic by a Sufi order. It has since circulated through most of the Eastern religions; this edition is the first one in English. I found out about it through Isabel Carlisle, who converted it into play form and has used it in schools over the last few years.
You must read this book. If you are interested in political philosophy you will find it fascinating. If you are not interested in political philosophy you soon will be.