Wednesday, August 31, 2011
To someone like Lester Brown, who is invigorated by a 10-hour workday seven days a week, vacations are a misnomer. Nevertheless, once a decade or so, he is enticed to go somewhere without a fax or phone. In the mid-1990s, it was a hiking trip with his son Brian across the tops of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
Last month Brian scored again, this time taking his father to the Denali National Park in Alaska. See also.
Thus, the day after his participation in the Asahi Glass Foundation’s symposium, "Conditions for Survival,” in celebration of its twentieth year in presenting the Blue Planet Prize, Lester boarded a plane for Fairbanks and spent the next nine days hiking, biking, and exploring the Denali Wilderness. Situated near Wonder Lake, their lodging gazed across at Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America, which they circumnavigated in a small plane.
Shortly after his return, Lester was invited by Ted Turner to spend a few days at his ranch in Montana. Coinciding with an already scheduled trip to give a keynote at the ARE Day Summit in Aspen, Colorado, he accepted.
And what about the rest of the EPI team? Perhaps a bit less cool, but still delightful: we have had or are having staycations and camping and hiking trips, celebrating a wedding and graduation on the West Coast, visiting family, and getting away with friends in sunny southern California.
Reah Janise Kauffman
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
From time to time, the Institute receives some interesting books. Check out these that we excavated from Lester’s office if you are in search of any late summer reads.
A Pivotal Moment: Population, Justice & the Environmental Challenge
Edited by Laurie Mazur
A collection of essays from experts on population, climate change, and other linked environmental issues, this book addresses the effect of population growth on the natural support systems that the economy needs to sustain our modern civilization. Editor Laurie Mazur advocates the adoption and use of family planning as an effective way to deter rapid population growth, which will then strengthen the push for environmental conservation.
Some organizations represented in the book: UN Population Fund, Center for Global Development, Center for Environment and Population, Earth Policy Institute, International Women’s Health Coalition, Sierra Club, Worldwatch Institute, and Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
“As members of the largest generation in history move into their childbearing years, the need for reproductive health services will grow exponentially…ensuring that they make real choice about childbearing could help stabilize world population at 8 than rather nearly 11 billion—which will, in turn, make climate change and poverty easier to address.” -- Laurie Mazur
Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations
By David R. Montgomery
Montgomery is a geomorphologist who studies the topographical decay of the land as a living, but wrote this book to discuss soil erosion’s impact on past civilizations and how it could drastically affect our own if not remedied. One of his arguments is that in the past farmers were able to move on to more fertile land if their cropland was degrading. With today’s issue of land scarcity, this is not an option.
“… the human cost of soil exhaustion is readily apparent in the history of regions that long ago committed ecological suicide.” –David R. Montgomery
Pesticides: The Chemical Weapon that Kills Life
By Lev A. Fedorov and Alexey V. Yablokov
A short read on how chemical warfare plants were converted into pesticide production facilities. Fedorov and Yablokov utilize lost masters theses and dissertations from the 1970-80s made available in the 1990s to analyze the long-term impact of pesticides used in agriculture on humans and the environment in the USSR.
From the Foreword: “The growing concerns about the public health and environmental impacts of pesticides have led many in the general public and the government to question whether all benefits of pesticides, such as the perfect red apple, are worth the associated costs of environmental pollution, human illness and loss of life, bird kills, and the destruction of other beneficial natural organisms.” – David Pimentel, Cornell University
Thinking in Systems: A Primer
By Donella H. Meadows, Edited By Diana Wright, Sustainability Institute
Meadows applies systems theory into different aspects of society in this introductory book. Using nontechnical language and scattered with quotes and graphs to alleviate any confusion on the reader’s side, the book challenges the reader to think about how the theory can be applied to help create sustainable systems. Meadows wrote the preliminary draft of the book in 1993, but died in 2001. It was then published by the Sustainability Institute so that Meadow’s work would be available to all.
Global Climate Change: A Primer
By Orrin H. Pilkey & Keith C. Pilkey; Art by Mary Edna Fraser
Father and son team Orrin Pilkey and Keith Pilkey decided to bring global warming out of the lab and into the forefront with their book Global Climate Change: A Primer. By explaining scientific research and terms for the public mainstream on global warming, they then address the general rebuttals of climate deniers. The book is also accompanied by silk batik art from Mary Edna Fraser, which is based on maps, satellite images, and photographs that she takes while flying in a propeller plane.
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