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(59,834 posts)
Sun Oct 21, 2012, 12:01 PM Oct 2012

Peter Dykstra On The 5 Best Environmental Books Of All Time - Your Nominees?


Already a best-selling author of volumes on the wonders of the oceans, Carson turned her attention to the increasing reports of damage from “miracle” pesticides being sprayed, spread and air-dropped on 1950s America. She doggedly followed studies and lawsuits documenting the human and wildlife toll from DDT, chlordane, dieldrin, and many other now-banned substances. When the book was serialized and published in 1962, "Silent Spring" caused an uproar that helped spawn the modern American environmental movement. Ten years later, DDT was fast losing its potency against mosquitoes, but birds were still dropping like flies. It was outlawed in the U.S., and the mortal threat to bald eagles, ruby-throated hummingbirds and a thousand other species abated.

Along the way, ideologues and industry hacks mounted a campaign to vilify Carson, labeling her, in coded 1960s language, a “spinster” and less ambiguously charging that she was an agent of the Kremlin. (Call me crazy, but I don’t think that the Commies would have dispatched an agent to save America’s bald eagle.) Astonishingly, those attacks survive a half-century later, with the tinfoil-hat community going as far as to liken this mild-mannered meticulous scientist to mass murderers because malaria still kills people and DDT was once effective in battling malaria. That’s what you get for saving the bald eagle.

Aldo Leopold’s "A Sand County Almanac" manages to unintentionally replicate nature itself. It’s a series of essays that are superficially unconnected, but together they function like the web of life. Leopold showed a midcentury audience that conservation is essentially our success or failure at getting along with the natural world. Back then, “conservation” and “conservative” were not necessarily polar opposites.

Those who toil as environmental PR flacks, or those who dispense money for journalists’ fellowships, have a role model in Marc Reisner. A former communications guy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Reisner wrote "Cadillac Desert" fueled by fellowship money. It rates words you typically see for a Hollywood epic, like “sweeping” and “sprawling.” The book spins the tale of corruption, brutality, deceit and wealth as the major influences on western water rights. Published in 1986, "Cadillac Desert" also foretold that water can float the arid West only so far.



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Peter Dykstra On The 5 Best Environmental Books Of All Time - Your Nominees? (Original Post) hatrack Oct 2012 OP
Surprised to not see mention Design With Nature by Ian McHarg (published 1969) PufPuf23 Oct 2012 #1
My choice for the best I've ever read would be: NNadir Oct 2012 #2
I'd include "uncommon Ground" by William Cronon YankeyMCC Oct 2012 #3


(8,979 posts)
1. Surprised to not see mention Design With Nature by Ian McHarg (published 1969)
Sun Oct 21, 2012, 07:02 PM
Oct 2012

Design With Nature is the seminal and pragmatic text that is the basis for modern landuse planning and today's GIS systems.

Editorial Reviews (from http://www.amazon.com/Design-Nature-Wiley-Sustainable/dp/047111460X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1350860448&sr=1-1&keywords=Design+with+Nature)

From Library Journal
LJ's reviewer boldly contended that this "may well be one of the most important books of the century." Blending philosophy and science, McHarg shows how humans can copy nature's examples to design and build better structures. This 25th anniversary edition includes a new introduction and epilog. This remains "a pleasure to read" (LJ 10/1/69).
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Back Cover
"In presenting us with a vision of organic exuberance and human delight, which ecology and ecological design promise to open up for us, McHarg revives the hope for a better world." —Lewis Mumford
". . . important to America and all the rest of the world in our struggle to design rational, wholesome, and productive landscapes." —Laurie Olin, Hanna Olin, Ltd.

"This century's most influential landscape architecture book." —Landscape Architecture

". . . an enduring contribution to the technical literature of landscape planning and to that unfortunately small collection of writings which speak with emotional eloquence of the importance of ecological principles in regional planning." —Landscape and Urban Planning

In the twenty-five years since it first took the academic world by storm, Design With Nature has done much to redefine the fields of landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, and ecological design. It has also left a permanent mark on the ongoing discussion of mankind's place in nature and nature's place in mankind within the physical sciences and humanities. Described by one enthusiastic reviewer as a "user's manual for our world," Design With Nature offers a practical blueprint for a new, healthier relationship between the built environment and nature. In so doing, it provides nothing less than the scientific, technical, and philosophical foundations for a mature civilization that will, as Lewis Mumford ecstatically put it in his Introduction to the 1969 edition, "replace the polluted, bulldozed, machine-dominated, dehumanized, explosion-threatened world that is even now disintegrating and disappearing before our eyes."

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