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MOTHER EARTH NEWS DIGITAL ARCHIVE: 2011
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Home > Browse By Topic > Nature & Community > Environmentalism
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America's once-vibrant small-to-midsize cities-Syracuse, N.Y.; Worcester, Mass.; Akron, Ohio; Flint, Mich.; Rockford, Ill.; and others-increasingly resemble urban wastelands. Gutted by deindustrializa…
America's once-vibrant small-to-midsize cities-Syracuse, N.Y.; Worcester, Mass.; Akron, Ohio; Flint, Mich.; Rockford, Ill.; and others-increasingly resemble urban wastelands. Gutted by deindustrialization, outsourcing and middle-class flight, disproportionately devastated by metro freeway systems that laid waste to the urban fabric and displaced the working poor, and struggling with pockets of poverty reminiscent of postcolonial squalor, small industrial cities have become invisible to a public distracted by the Wall Street (big city) versus Main Street (small town) matchup. These cities would seem to be part of America's past, not its future. And yet, journalist and historian Catherine Tumber argues in this provocative book, America's gritty Rust Belt cities could play a central role in a greener, low-carbon, relocalized future.
As we wean ourselves from fossil fuels and realize the environmental costs of suburban sprawl, we will see that small cities offer many assets for sustainable living not shared by their big city or small town counterparts: population density (and the capacity for more); fertile, nearby farmland available for local agriculture, windmills and solar farms; and manufacturing infrastructure and workforce skill that can be repurposed for the production of renewable-energy technology.
Tumber, who has spent much of her life in Rust Belt cities, traveled to 25 cities in the Northeast and Midwest-from Buffalo, N.Y., to Peoria, Ill., to Detroit to Rochester, N.Y.-interviewing planners, city officials and activists, and weaving their stories into this exploration of small-scale urbanism. Smaller cities can be a critical part of a sustainable future and a productive green economy. Small, Gritty, and Green will help us develop the moral and political imagination we need to realize this.
This book tackles an increasingly crucial question: What can we do about the seemingly intractable challenges confronting all of humanity today, including climate change, global hunger, water scarcity…
This book tackles an increasingly crucial question: What can we do about the seemingly intractable challenges confronting all of humanity today, including climate change, global hunger, water scarcity, environmental stress and economic instability?
The quick answers are: Build topsoil. Fix creeks. Eat meat from pasture-raised animals. Soil scientists maintain that a mere 2 percent increase in the carbon content of the planet's soils could offset 100 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere. But how could this be accomplished? What would it cost? Is it even possible?
Yes, says author Courtney White, it is not only possible, but essential for the long-term health and sustainability of our environment and our economy.
Right now, the only possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is through plant photosynthesis and related land-based carbon sequestration activities. These include a range of already existing, low-tech, and proven practices: composting, no-till farming, climate-friendly livestock practices, conserving natural habitat, restoring degraded watersheds and rangelands, increasing biodiversity, and producing local food.
In Grass, Soil, Hope, the author shows how all these practical strategies can be bundled together into an economic and ecological whole, with the aim of reducing atmospheric CO2 while producing substantial co-benefits for all living things. Soil is a huge natural sink for carbon dioxide. If we can draw increasing amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere and store it safely in the soil, we can significantly address all the multiple challenges that now appear so intractable.
Thousands of years of poor farming and ranching practices-and, especially, modern industrial agriculture-have led to the loss of up to 80 percent of carbon from the world's soils. That carbon is now f…
Thousands of years of poor farming and ranching practices-and, especially, modern industrial agriculture-have led to the loss of up to 80 percent of carbon from the world's soils. That carbon is now floating in the atmosphere, and even if we stopped using fossil fuels today, it would continue warming the planet. In The Soil Will Save Us, journalist and best-selling author Kristin Ohlson makes an elegantly argued, passionate case for "our great green hope"-a way in which we can not only heal the land but also turn atmospheric carbon into beneficial soil carbon-and potentially reverse global warming.
As the granddaughter of farmers and the daughter of avid gardeners, Ohlson has long had an appreciation for the soil. A chance conversation with a local chef led her to the crossroads of science, farming, food and environmentalism, and the discovery of the only significant way to remove carbon dioxide from the air-an ecological approach that tends not only to plants and animals but also to the vast population of underground microorganisms that fix carbon in the soil. Ohlson introduces the visionaries-scientists, farmers, ranchers and landscapers-who are figuring out in the lab and on the ground how to build healthy soil, which solves myriad problems: drought, erosion, air and water pollution, and food quality, as well as climate change. Her discoveries and vivid storytelling will revolutionize the way we think about our food, our landscapes, our plants and our relationship to Earth.
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Making the case for adopting more sustainable modes of transportation, this engaging reference explores the economi…
Making the case for adopting more sustainable modes of transportation, this engaging reference explores the economic benefits of bicycling. It starts with an analysis of the real costs incurred by individuals and families in existing transportation systems and goes on to examine the current civic expenses of these systems. With critiques of modern society's deep-rooted attachment to car culture, this book tells the stories of people, businesses, organizations and cities who are investing in two-wheeled transportation. Offering a fresh and compelling perspective on how people get from place to place, this book reveals the multifaceted North American bicycle movement with its contradictions, challenges, successes and visions for the future.
The Upcycle is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Cradle to Cradle, one of the most consequential ecological manifestos of our time. Now, drawing on the lessons gained from 10 years of putting the Cradl…
The Upcycle is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Cradle to Cradle, one of the most consequential ecological manifestos of our time. Now, drawing on the lessons gained from 10 years of putting the Cradle to Cradle concept into practice with businesses, governments and ordinary people, William McDonough and Michael Braungart envision the next step in the solution to our ecological crisis: We don't just use or reuse resources with greater effectiveness, we actually improve the world as we live, create and build.
For McDonough and Braungart, the questions of resource scarcity and sustainability are questions of design. They are practical-minded visionaries: They envision beneficial designs of products, buildings and business practices-and they show us these ideas being put to use around the world as everyday objects like chairs, cars and factories are being reimagined not just to sustain life on the planet but to grow it. It is an eye-opening, inspiring tour of our green future as it unfolds in front of us.
McDonough and Braungart want to turn on its head our understanding of the human role on earth: Instead of protecting the planet from human impact, why not redesign our activity to improve the environment? We can have a beneficial footprint. Abundance for all. The goal is within our reach.
Like many people, Beth Terry didn't think an individual could have much impact on the environment. But while laid up after surgery, she read an article about the staggering amount of plastic polluting…
Like many people, Beth Terry didn't think an individual could have much impact on the environment. But while laid up after surgery, she read an article about the staggering amount of plastic polluting the oceans and decided then and there to kick her plastic habit. Now she wants to teach you how you can too. In her quirky and humorous style -- well-known to the readers of her popular blog, My Plastic-Free Life -- Terry provides personal anecdotes, stats about the environmental and health problems related to plastic, and personal solutions and tips on how to limit your plastic footprint.
Terry includes handy lists and charts for easy reference, ways to get involved in larger community actions, and profiles of individuals -- Plastic-Free Heroes -- who have gone beyond personal solutions to create a change on a larger scale. Plastic-Free also includes chapters on letting go of eco-guilt, strategies for coping with overwhelming problems, and ways to relate to other people who aren't as far along on the plastic-free path. Both a practical guide and the story of a personal journey from helplessness to empowerment, Plastic-Free is a must-read for anyone concerned about the ongoing health and happiness of themselves, their children, and the planet.
In this age of climate change, killer germs and obesity, it's easy to feel as if we've fallen out of sync with the global ecosystem. This ecological anxiety has polarized a new generation of Americans…
In this age of climate change, killer germs and obesity, it's easy to feel as if we've fallen out of sync with the global ecosystem. This ecological anxiety has polarized a new generation of Americans: Many are drawn to natural solutions and organic lifestyles, while others rally around high-tech development and industrial efficiencies. Author Nathanael Johnson argues that both views, when taken to extremes, can be harmful, even deadly.
Johnson, raised in the crunchy-granola epicenter of Nevada City, Calif., lovingly and rigorously scrutinizes his family's all-natural mindset, a quest that brings him into the worlds of an outlaw midwife, radical doctors, renegade farmers and one hermit forester. Along the way, he uncovers paradoxes at the heart of our ecological condition: Why, even as medicine improves, are we becoming less healthy? Why are more American women dying in childbirth? Why do we grow fatter the more we diet? Why have so many attempts to save the environment backfired?
All Natural*: *A Skeptic's Quest to Discover if the Natural Approach to Diet, Childbirth, Healing, and the Environment Really Keeps Us Healthier and Happier, the book that resulted from Johnson's explorations, is a sparklingly intelligent, wry and scrupulously reported narrative. Johnson teases fact from faith and offers a rousing and original vision for a middle ground between natural and technological solutions that will assuage frustrated environmentalists, perplexed parents and confused consumers alike.
In 2002, Texas journalist Brad Tyer strapped a canoe on his truck and moved to Montana, a state that has long exerted a mythic pull on America's imagination as an unspoiled landscape. The son of an en…
In 2002, Texas journalist Brad Tyer strapped a canoe on his truck and moved to Montana, a state that has long exerted a mythic pull on America's imagination as an unspoiled landscape. The son of an engineer who reclaimed wastewater, Tyer was looking for a pristine river to call his own. What he found instead was a century's worth of industrial poison clotting the Clark Fork River, a decades-long engineering project to clean it up, and a forgotten town named Opportunity.
At the turn of the nineteenth century, Montana exploited the richest copper deposits in the world, fueling the electric growth of twentieth-century America and building some of the nation's most outlandish fortunes. The toxic byproduct of those fortunes-what didn't spill into the river-was dumped in Opportunity.
In the twenty-first century, Montana's draw is no longer metal, but landscape: the blue-ribbon trout streams and unspoiled wilderness of the nation's "last best place." To match reality to the myth, affluent exurbanites and well-meaning environmentalists are trying to restore the Clark Fork River to its "natural state." In the process, millions of tons of toxic soils are being removed and dumped-once again-in Opportunity. As Tyer investigates Opportunity's history, he wrestles with questions of environmental justice and the ethics of burdening one community with an entire region's waste.
Stalled at the intersection of a fading extractive economy and a fledgling restoration boom, Opportunity's story is a secret history of the American Dream, and a key to understanding the country's-and increasingly the globe's-demand for modern convenience.
As Tyer explores the degradations of the landscape, he also probes the parallel emotional geography of familial estrangement. Part personal history and part reportorial narrative, Opportunity, Montana is a story of progress and its price, of copper and water, of father and son, and of our attempts to redeem the mistakes of the past.
We've outpaced our planet. It's a truth we can no longer escape or ignore. Signs are everywhere. Of the 7 billion people who live on the earth, 2.7 billion struggle to live on less than $2 per day. A …
We've outpaced our planet. It's a truth we can no longer escape or ignore. Signs are everywhere. Of the 7 billion people who live on the earth, 2.7 billion struggle to live on less than $2 per day. A dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is estimated to be the size of New Jersey, and 400 ocean zones are completely devoid of life. We use 11 times as much energy as we did just 50 years ago. More of the same is clearly not sustainable.
But what can we do? In Enough Is Enough, Rob Dietz and Dan O'Neill urge us to shift our focus from the symptoms to the cause: the pursuit of never-ending economic growth. Because we live in a world of finite resources, we must change our economic goal from the madness of more to the wisdom of enough.
What sets this book apart is its focus on the solution: a prosperous and stable steady-state economy. Dietz and O'Neill describe the features of this economy and explain how to achieve it. They explore specific strategies to limit resource use, stabilize population, achieve a fair distribution of income and wealth, reform the financial system, reduce unemployment, and more-all with the aim of maximizing long-term well-being instead of short-term profits. They also provide advice for changing consumer behavior and shifting the political conversation away from the misguided pursuit of economic growth and toward the things that really matter to people.
Ultimately, this book offers more than just a survival strategy. By eliminating the waste and excess that have put the planet in peril, people can lead healthier and happier lives. Filled with fresh ideas and surprising optimism, Enough Is Enough is the primer for achieving genuine prosperity and a hopeful future for all.
In 1971, a caravan of 60 brightly painted school buses and assorted other vehicles carrying more than 300 hippie idealists landed on an abandoned farm in central Tennessee. They had a mission: to be a…
In 1971, a caravan of 60 brightly painted school buses and assorted other vehicles carrying more than 300 hippie idealists landed on an abandoned farm in central Tennessee. They had a mission: to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to follow a peaceful and spiritual path, and to make a difference in the world. Out to Change the World tells the story of how those hippies established The Farm, one of the largest and longest-lasting intentional communities in the United States. Starting with the 1960s Haight-Ashbury scene where it all began and continuing through the changeover from commune to collective up to the present day, this is the first complete account of The Farm's origins, inception, growth and evolution. By turns inspiring, cautionary, triumphant and wistful, it's a captivating narrative from start to finish.
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