Two Books for Earth Day from University of California Press (Part One)

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Introduction

Part One: dodging extinction

dodging extinction by Anthony Barnosky and Concrete Jungle by Niles Eldredge and Sidney Hornstein both deal with the concept of the Sixth Extinction. A new term in my lexicon, I Googled it and found a book by Elizabeth Kolbert with the title: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. According to all these authors, this concept is part of a series of biodiversity losses that are massive and threaten all life on the planet.

According to James Temple in www.recode.net, 7/26/2014: “The defining characteristic of the current round — the latest since the dinosaurs disappeared about 65 million years ago — seems to be driven mostly by the actions of humankind. We’re steadily encroaching on the habitat of millions of species while fundamentally altering the environment.” Before reading Dodging Extinction and Concrete Jungle, but not Kolbert’s book, I had not even heard of The Sixth Extinction, but now that I am familiar with the idea, I find the two books I read to be eye-openers, although their approaches are slightly different.

dodging extinction by Anthony D. Barnosky

Barnosky is a paleontologist, so he approaches The Sixth Extinction from a scientific viewpoint, even though his subtitle is “power, food, money, and the future of the earth.”  By showing the links between the past and the present, he notes in his Preface that his book “is a fusion of my own hands-on research on global change issues¾primarily from a paleo-biological perspective¾and my reading of the recent (and sometimes not-so-recent) work of many others.”

Starting with the giant tortoise Lonesome George in Chapter One, the last one of his kind, the author takes us on an historical journey about the rapid loss of many different animals on the planet, which he links to power (energy), food, and money. While Barnosky’s approach is somewhat pessimistic, given the historical background of previous extinctions and the rate at which so many species are becoming endangered and/or extinct, his second chapter, “It’s Not Too Late (Yet),” is actually more optimistic. The core of the book is power, food, and money, Chapters 4, 5, and 6, in which he explores these topics and their relationship to the looming extinction of countless animal species, many of which are already extinct.

Chapter 4’s topic is Power and on p. 64 is a list compiled by ecologist Stephen Pacala and physicist Robert Socolow who offer 15 solutions to keep enough carbon from the air we breathe to prevent the worse-climate change impact. The 15 solutions are combined within these five categories with additional suggestions to make them viable:

1)   Use fossil fuels more efficiently, (2) Increase Efficiency in power-generating that run on fossil fuels, (3) Implement Carbon Capture Storage (CCS), (4) Replace energy produced by fossil fuels with energy generated by carbon-neutral technologies, and (5) Practice more prudent agriculture and forestry.

Chapter 5 tackles Food, and since this is a food website, I may come back to this chapter in a separate posting, but for this review, I will note that the author discusses pollution of our waters that are the homes of fish, whales, dolphins, crustaceans and sea vegetation; converting landscapes where animals live to agricultural plots that threaten both domestic and non-domestic animals to extinction because their habitats disappear; and the fact that nearly 25% of all cropland goes to feeding domestic animals that humans eat (an inefficient way to feed the world). These and other issues are creating ecological and environmental problems  that we must tackle before it’s too late to save our planet.

Chapter 6 deals with Money, what we are willing to pay to get what we want and involves ecosystem services. Increasingly, big corporations have entered the environmental awareness business that will help us get what we need without stripping the planet. The concept of environmentally sound products to buy and sell has been catching on. The author notes at the end of the chapter that if we value species alive more than dead, then how and where we spend our money will impact this value.

Chapter 7 is entitled “Resuscitation.” Barnosky writes, for example, about the contributions that can be made by conservation biology, whose mission is to conserve the Earth’s biological diversity with the help of science and prudent practices. He writes that we need a “multi-pronged, heavy duty management required to resuscitate species”  (p. 151) that we have brought to the brink of extinction.

The final chapter, Chapter 8, aptly entitled “Back from the Brink,” is probably the most important in that it gives up hope for the future if we stop doing business as usual and make stronger efforts to deal with climate change, fossil fuel pollution, food shortages, an unstable economic system, etc.  What is good for us (humans) will also be good for the animals that are dying off because of our environmental practices that involve power, food, and money. By working on this as a global problem, all of humanity will benefit, especially when done on a local basis by individuals, groups, and governments who share similar ideas of biodiversity, ecology, technological so0lutions, and an (emergency) call to action.

The book could easily be a text for a classroom with students studying environmental science from a macro-approach. Some of the information is too detailed for me, but the overall message of opportunity for change and hope for a sustainable planet is what I found encouraging in this book. dodging extinction is published by the University of California Press and contains 240 pages. It has extensive notes at the back of the book and costs $29.95 (hardcover).




April Love: April 2015

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Pat Boone sang the song April Love in a movie by the same name in 1957. He sings about young love, but I think it could also be interpreted about being in love with April flowers/plants that bloom early—forsythia, azaleas, tulips, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinth, dogwood, etc.—and the photo above was taken where flowers are already in bloom. Thanx to my brother Harry; more to come.

 

A lovely window box filled with flowers which my brother Harry took on a recent trip to Colombia, S. Am.


April is National Poetry Month and this is what Google has to say: National Poetry Month, which takes place each April, is a celebration of poetry introduced in 1996 and organized by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. The Academy of American Poets’ website poets.org serves as a hub for information about local poetry events during the month. The organization also provides free educational resources to teachers for classroom celebrations, and commissions an annual festival poster.

This month I hope to post several poems by Mary Lou Meyers, my classmate and unofficial “poet-ink-residence” for menopause, as well as some other poems from book son my shelf.  From poets.org I also found this list:

30 ways to celebrate national poetry month

  1. Order a free National Poetry Month poster and display it at work or school.
  2. Sign up for Poem-a-Day and read a poem each morning.
  3. Deepen your daily experience by reading Edward Hirsch’s essay “How to Read a Poem.”
  4. Memorize a poem.
  5. Create an anthology of your favorite poems on Poets.org.
  6. Encourage a young person to participate in the Dear Poetproject.
  7. Buy a book of poetry from your local bookstore.
  8. Review these concrete examples of how poetry matters in the United States today.
  9. Learn more about poets and poetry events in your state.
  10. Ask your governor or mayor for a proclamation in support of National Poetry Month.
  11. Attend a poetry reading at a local university, bookstore, cafe, or library.
  12. Read a poem at an open mic. It’s a great way to meet other writers in your area and find out about your local poetry writing community.
  13. Start a poetry reading group.
  14. Write an exquisite corpse poem with friends.
  15. Chalk a poem on the sidewalk.
  16. Write a letter to a poet thanking them for their work.
  17. Ask the United States Post Office to issue more stampscelebrating poets.
  18. Recreate a poet’s favorite food or drink by following his or her recipe.
  19. Read about different poetic forms.
  20. Read about poems titled “poem.”
  21. Read the first chapter of Muriel Rukeyer’s inspiring book, The Life of Poetry.
  22. Subscribe to American Poets magazine or a small press poetry journal.
  23. Watch Rachel Eliza Griffiths‘ latest Poets on Poetry video.
  24. Watch or read Carolyn Forche’s talk “Not Persuasion, But Transport: The Poetry of Witness.”
  25. Read or listen to Mark Doty’s talk “Tide of Voices: Why Poetry Matters Now.”
  26. Read Allen Ginsberg’s classic essay about Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.”
  27. Watch a poetry movie.
  28. Sign up for a poetry class or workshop.
  29. Get ready for Mother’s Day by making a card featuring a line of poetry.
  30. Celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 30, 2015. The idea is simple: select a poem you love, carry it with you, then share it with coworkers, family, and friends.

Earth Day is April 18th this year & I plan to do whatI did last year, that is, post something throughout the month with the idea of Earth Day Every Day, as a reminder to keep the concept going all year.


As part of Earth Day I plan to review a book from University of California Press entitled: Dodging Extinction by Anthony Barnosky.

The subtitle is: “power,food, money, and the future of life on earth.” I am eager to share it with you. Thanks to my daughter-in-law Maura, an editor @ U of C Press, for the review copy.

 

I ran out of March last month, so I never posted my recipe for Sprouted Lentil Salad as part of my yearly return to the importance of sprouting. So that will be posted soon. Yum!

 

April also hosts Easter & Passover, and they almost coincide, so Jews and Christians alike will be feasting and celebrating. I hope to post a recipe from a book by Nava Atlas on holidays and include both an Easter & a Passover recipe.


<<<<<<<Matzah is a symbol of Passover and dyed eggs are a symbol of Easter >>>>>>




Since I will be away in April visiting family on the West Coast, I hope I can fit all this in and come back with lovely photos of flowers in California.

Enjoy the special days of this month. I think you are going to love April!

Another photo from my brother Harry’s S. Am.trip with wife Karen









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