North Atlantic Books, 2018 ISBN: 978–1623172480 Reviewed by Ian Mowll [...]
Faber & Faber, 2018 ISBN: 978-0571336777 Reviewed by Ian Mowll [...]
Henry Holt & Co (2015) ISBN: 978-0-8050-9888-4 [...]
Coronet, 2017 ISBN: 9781473630109 Reviewed by Marian Van [...]
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 [...]
‘Raised By Animals: The Surprising New Science Of Animal Family Dynamics’ by Jennifer L. Verdolin (with a Foreword by Marc Bekoff)
The Experiment, April 2017 ISBN: 978-1615193448 Reviewed by Marian Van Eyk [...]
Yale University Press, 2017 ISBN: 978-0300218152 Reviewed by Marian Van [...]
A physicist and a professor of molecular biology lead us into a new scientific world in which physics and biology talk to one another – and the results are very exciting. In the past quantum physics pretty much had the monopoly of physics, and biology was limited to the world of classical science. The experiments by which the quantum world was understood required very precise conditions which are not found in the messy world of Nature. However, as this book demonstrates life at every level depends on the movement of fundamental particles that are governed by quantum rules.
As twigs from the same branch of the same family tree, we have the same instincts, the same repertoire of feelings, the same traits, and many of the same behavioural tendencies as many other species. Such qualities as fidelity, loyalty, morality and altruism are alive and well amongst our quadripedal relatives and the lines dividing us from them are in fact very thin ones. This compact and comprehensive book describes many feelings and behaviours our non-human relatives share with us such as those relating to justice, sex, love, fear, grief, envy and jealousy. This is a readable, interesting and straightforward book backed up with an extensive collection of scientific references.
In this fascinating and intensively-researched book, Jennifer Ackerman delves deeply into the minds and abilities of our feathered companions and reveals some of the remarkable discoveries that have been made in recent years about the true nature and extent of avian intelligence. Once we learn to stop defining intelligence in terms of what we excel at and study birds on their own terms, there is a wealth of fascinating information to be gained.
This ebook is about the Universe Story (the story as revealed by science from the Big Bang to the present day) and how it can inspire us in our lives and help to create a better world.
‘Embracing Complexity: Strategic Perspectives for an Age of Turbulence’ by Jean G. Boulton, Peter M. Allen and Cliff Bowman
We have, in our western society, the god of science. So often we hear “scientists say…” in the press. And, for many people, this implies a statement of authority. But the problem is that western science is essentially value-less. This mind-set has led to such things as testing on animals, factory farming and the proliferation of deadly weapons. How did we get to this place and what can be done about it? Whilst the book covers a lot of territory, this is the key question it addresses.
‘A Cree Healer and His Medicine Bundle: Revelations of Indigenous Wisdom–Healing Plants, Practices, and Stories’ by David Young, Robert Rogers and Russell Willier
pbk 328 pp North Atlantic Books 2015 ISBN: 978-1583949030 Reviewed [...]
This would be a good book for study in schools because it offers scientific and technical information about ecology, sociology and psychology at a level that is very accessible. The author, a Scottish environmentalist, relates this to the inner life and thence the outward actions of all of us. Essentially, it’s a book about climate change and the human mind-set that has brought it about but continues to deny any responsibility. It also gives us constructive suggestions for a way forward.
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.
Ranging as it does from in-depth explanations of neuropsychological processes to personal stories from surfers, divers, fishermen, sailors and others, this book is so impressively comprehensive that it could easily have been subtitled 'Everything you always wanted to know about our human relationship to water and lots more that you never even imagined.'
‘The Practitioner’s Encyclopedia of Flower Remedies: The Definitive Guide to All Flower Remedies, their Making and Uses’ by Clare G. Harvey
Clare Harvey writes that Dr Bach told her grandmother that though his essences were complete in themselves in the future there would be the need for essences from all over the world. Over the last 30 or so years there has been a worldwide explosion of new essences so that from the first 28 discovered by Dr Bach there are now literally thousands. In this compilation the writer has collected over 3,000 essences and combination remedies and listed them by continent and producer with the explanations and applications provided by their suppliers. Each section has its own introduction and the whole provides a very comprehensive reference book.
‘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.
Most urban spaces and buildings in the West are designed and built with no sensitivity whatsoever to these subtle energy currents. Which is why Jaime Lerner's book is called 'Acupuncture'. It is all about bringing life back into dead spaces and restoring the flow of energy to places where it has been blocked or stifled. Lerner, who was three times mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, and is also an architect and a popular advocate for sustainable and liveable urbanism, describes how some city planners have worked to restore life and dynamism to ailing urban areas.
‘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.
Growing plants, particularly as food, can enable wonderful insight into the processes of life. Biodynamics, which links our work as gardeners to our cosmic context and to microscopic processes is a powerful invitation to step into a sense of the sacredness and wonder of these processes.
‘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.
SACRED SEED: A Collection of Essays. Compiled and edited by the Global Peace Initiative of Women with an introduction by Vandana Shiva
This is a collection of essays dedicated, as the front matter tells us, …to all those working to preserve and care for the Earth and Her life systems…the most dangerous war humankind is engaged in is the war against nature. Until we can learn to live peacefully with Nature we will not live peacefully with one another. The seed is frequently referred to in belief systems because it provides such a powerful metaphor for the hidden depths within natural systems that are essential to our existence on this planet, both physically and spiritually; the spiritual and the practical are brought together seamlessly in the essays in this book.
‘Excellent Beauty: The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of the World ‘ by Eric Dietrich
Have we not always been led to believe that religion is the purveyor of mysteries and all that is supernatural rather than natural? And have we not learned that science destroys mystery by discovering truth? In fact, as Dietrich—professor of philosophy at Binghamton University—so thoroughly and competently explains, religion is actually a biological phenomenon, a property emerging from the process of human evolution. Meanwhile science, we have all discovered, is what destroys our mysteries and reveals to us all that is real about the world.
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.
‘Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence’ by Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola
We recognize the familial bonds we have with other animals, for like us they all have eyes and a heart and a brain and, despite vast differences of form, we are all variations on a theme. But a plant—well that is ‘something else.’ It is sedentary, fixed in place, lacking internal organs, lacking a face. To our anthropocentric human minds, plants are either commodities or decorations. We don’t see them for who they actually are: fellow beings with whom we and all other life forms share the vast co-operative adventure called life on Earth. For in fact, plants process information, just as we do. They sleep and wake, just like us. Like us, they can see, feel, touch and remember. They can also communicate with each other and with other organisms They just do it differently, that's all.
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.
By lighting up the Earth to the point where hardly anyone gets to see the stars any more we are cheating ourselves and our descendants out of an experience that should be their birthright—but which, after a few generations, nobody is going to know is even possible. Also, since all living beings evolved on a planet where nights are dark, we are unthinkingly disrupting countless ecological systems and cycles that have existed since life began. This book chronicles its author's journey across the USA in search of really dark skies and his conversations with those he met along the way, including astronomers, who face increasing challenges from light pollution, and urban planners who are starting to look at how we might light our cities and towns more subtly and sustainably in order to preserve the darkness our bodies—and our souls—actually need for good health.
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.
This author, a scientifically trained veterinarian, who has worked with animal all her life, talks to us about the way animals think and feel and dwell--unlike us--in the ever-present moment. They have a lot to teach us. She encourages her readers "…to think of intuitive, telepathic communication with animals as a natural ability that you once had and have temporarily misplaced rather than as a supernatural power that you are trying to acquire." It is, she says, a skill that is achievable by all of us. A lovely, thought-provoking and insightful book.
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.
This book about the dynamics of intimate relationships and their potential as a vehicle for personal growth has two things that make it different from other books on relationships: (a) it is written by a biologist and underpinned by science, and (b) it addresses the connection between personal love and planetary healing.
Set primarily in the sandy, windswept area around the author’s home at Lazy Point on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York and organized around the calendar year, this book includes beautiful, detailed observations of Nature and the changes that happen as the seasons slowly revolve. Plus it is interspersed with commentaries and descriptions of various field trips made to other places far north and far south. Witnessing and documenting this ‘natural year in an unnatural world,’ Safina shows how the problems of the environment are linked to questions of social justice and the politics of greed.
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.
Natural science writer Janine Benyus takes us methodically through the full repertoire of sounds and signals and behaviours of twenty creatures from five different parts of the world in order to help us better understand the ways in which they communicate. Through the pages of this book we come to know not just how to interpret what we see our fellow animals doing when we go to the zoo but who they would be—and how they would be—if we were to able to meet and observe them on their own home ground.
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.
There is a lot we don’t know about water, and the research that Professor Pollack and his laboratory team have been working on is aimed at unravelling some of its mysteries. As well as gas, liquid and solid forms of water, they have discovered a surprisingly extensive fourth phase that occurs at any interface where water meets a hydrophilic (‘water-loving’) surface. This research has far-reaching implications for health and healing, for renewable energy production, water filtration, desalination and a host of other things.
‘Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe’ by Bob Berman and Robert Lanza
Lanza is a cell biologist and his co-author Berman is an astronomer. What they are saying—and explaining very cogently in this book—is an updated but by now well scientifically backed version of the idea Bishop Berkeley was trying to promote back in the early 18th century, i.e. that there is in fact no objective ‘reality’ out there, independent of the consciousness and perception of living organisms.
The concept of ‘multiverses’ – i.e. the idea that the universe we live in is just one in a vast or even infinite collection of universes – has been around in some form or another since at least the time of Plato. This book traces the history of this concept and discusses the different models now from the fields of cosmology, quantum mechanics, and string theory.
‘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.
‘Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Whether working alone in her garden, facing a bunch of students in her classroom, out doing fieldwork in the forest or patiently learning, word by difficult word, the language of her ancestors, Robin Wall Kimmerer is awake and aware and open to new understandings. Through her, we see connections and relationships where we never noticed them before. As she tells her stories, they come alive for us until we can feel the sun on the wild strawberries, hear the ‘plink’ of maple sap into the buckets and marvel at the stately pecan trees that only fruit in certain years but when they do fruit, always do it in concert, in the same year.
This is a book about a journey to find a different way of responding purposefully to the ecological issues of the present time. Peter Reason – husband, grandfather, former academic and sailor – sets out to sail around the West Coast of Ireland looking to encounter wilderness and thereby find a 'right' relationship with that which is not human.
This book describes our planet's whole evolutionary journey from the Big Bang to the present day, as revealed to us by science. It then goes on to explain why the story is so relevant for our time and to discuss some of the many inspirations we can draw from it.
‘All Our Relations: Green Spirit Connections with the more-than-human world’ Edited by Marian Van Eyk McCain
A book that specifically honours all those other life forms with whom we share the planet. They are all our relations. How we treat them, how we perceive them and feel about them and interact with them - and the extent to which we respect them is a measure of our true humanity and a measure of our true worth.
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.
‘Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World’ by Brian Walker and David Salt
Resilience thinking is based on making systems more adaptable, flexible and able to cope with sudden change, rather than trying to optimize their productivity.
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.
Oregon State University , 2003, pbk 168 pp ISBN: 978-0870714993 Reviewed [...]