Earth Day 2008

Walter Dodds, Humanity's FootprintEarth Day, founded in 1970 to raise awareness about the nation’s environmental concerns, is today, and we’d like to take this opportunity to highlight some of our recent ecology and environmental sciences titles.

American Environmental History: An Introduction by Carolyn Merchant is an illustrated reference that is an essential companion for anyone interested in the ongoing transformation of the American landscape and the conflicts over its resources and conservation. The author provides insight into humanity’s unique relationship with nature as well as the origins of our current environmental crisis. Beginning with the precolonial land-use practice of Native Americans and concluding with our twenty-first century concerns over our global ecological crisis, this book addresses contentious issues such as the preservation of the wilderness, the expulsion of native peoples from national parks, and population growth. The volume also includes a compendium of significant people, concepts, events, agencies, and legislation, and an extensive bibliography of films, books, and Web sites.

In Humanity’s Footprint: Momentum, Impact, and Our Global Environment, Walter Dodds paints a lively but ultimately sobering picture of our environmental predicament. For the first time in history, humans have exceeded the sustaining capacity of Earth’s global ecosystems, and our expanding footprint has tremendous momentum, threatening ecosystems worldwide. The author uses clear, nontechnical terms to explain the root causes and global environmental effects of human behavior and describe trends in population growth, resource use, and global environmental impacts of the past two centuries. His topics include greenhouse effects, ozone depletion, water pollution, and species extinctions and introductions, as well as less familiar developments, such as the spread of antibiotic resistant genes in bacteria and the concentration of pesticides in the Arctic and other remote ecosystems. Dodds calls for a consilient approach to socioenvironmental restoration that draws on new thinking from across disciplines to develop sustainable solutions to global environmental problems. You can also read Walter Dodds previous blog posting here and an excerpt from the chapter, “Searching for Answers: Can We Achieve Sustainability or Are We Screwed.” (pdf)

The Hudson: America’s River by Francis F. Dunwell is a richly illustrated book that tells the history of the “magical alchemy between a river, its people, and the ideas of the times.” Consulting diaries, maps, books, and letters, the author looks at the Hudson through the lenses of the Revolutionary War, the perspective of the Knickerbocker writers and the Hudson River school painters, the “bare-knuckle” era of the robber barons, the industrial age, and the environmental movements launched after the first Earth Day. The history of the Hudson embodies much of what is significant about America-our culture and military, our innovations in manufacturing and transportation, and our artistic, recreational, and environmental heritage. All royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to conservation of the river. Frances Dunwell has also written a post for the CUP blog “The Nature of the Hudson.

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