“Beach reads” have long been known as fluffy page-turners, full of romance and crime and having more action than thought. There is nothing wrong with these fun reads, but why not go a bit deeper this summer? Grab one of these environmental classics to take with you on vacation and learn some cool information!
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
The book that started it all – Carson’s 1962 book about the dangers of DDT and other pesticides caused a public outcry that resulted in the banning of DDT. Her passionate concern for the fate of our planet and her eloquent prose helped launch the modern environmental movement, and 50 years later still make for a compelling read.
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
Sort of an environmental ghost story, Weisman explores the idea of what would happen to the planet if every human being disappeared at once. If humans were not in New York City, for example, the pumps that keep the subway free of water would stop, and the NYC subway system would be completely submerged in a matter of days. Texas’ oil refineries might explode into a fiery inferno, while skyscrapers would crumble. After thousands of years, Earth might once again become Eden, but it would have humanity’s impact to get through first.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
If there was ever an argument for eating local and organic, this is it. Pollan explores food culture in America, taking us into the history of four meals: a MacDonald’s lunch, dinner made with ingredients bought from Whole Foods, a dinner made entirely from the products of a small farm, and a meal made entirely from items he hunted and foraged for. Throughout, Pollan asks questions about the moral and ecological consequences of our food, and gives the reader plenty to think about.
Environment, Scarcity, and Violence by Thomas F. Homer-Dixon
The Earth’s population is expected to reach 8 billion by 2025. The rising population will spur ever increasing demand for natural resources and subsequent scarcities of cropland, fresh water, and forests. Homer-Dixon argues that these environmental scarcities will have profound social consequences, contributing to ethnic clashes, urban violence, and other forms of unrest, especially in developing nations. An important read for anyone interested in the relationship between natural resource management and human societies.
The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine, and encompasses some of the most breathtaking wilderness in America. Bill Bryson writes about his journey hiking the length of the trail, introducing the reader to trail history and ecology, as well as some of the more colorful characters he encounters along the way. Always humorous and well-spoken, Bryson’s work is an entertaining read that also serves as an impassioned plea for the conservation of America’s wilderness.
There you go! A list of summer reading that will entertain you and make you think about the future of our planet. If you’re like me, some of these books will inspire you to try new things, whether its to get a share in a Community-Supported Agriculture, or take up hiking! Read on, and enjoy!