Required Reading for the Entire Planet
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.
Last Updated February 13, 2019
These are the most important works I have read to date, so this is a work in progress, not a complete list. I welcome suggestions for other works that should be added. My criterion is that they are foundational works that contribute to understanding the most important realities of life on Earth, and what needs to be done to ensure its survival, i.e., the survival of all life on Earth. What could be more important than that?!
Also, I am sure that each author has other writings of equal or greater importance. I suggest that you definitely read these (as soon as possible), but also look for their other works. They are all on the "cutting edge" of their fields.
Please send your comments and suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barrett, Deirdre, Supernormal Stimuli – How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010.
"No one owns the land", p.112. "The key to most of our modern crisis lies in 'making the ordinary seem strange'. We are the one animal that can notice, 'Hey, I'm sitting on a polka-dotted plaster egg' and climb off", p.177.
Bartlett, Magnus and Robert O'Connor, Hiroshima Nagasaki - An Illustrated History, Anthology, and Guide. Hong Kong: Airphoto International, Ltd., 2015.
"It was a mite that held itself most dear, so small I could have drowned it with a tear." (Karl Shapiro) p.3. "The public is invariably shown warfare through sanitized coverage, with the explanation always being that some images are too graphic and disturbing. This book will show images that are graphic and disturbing - they are meant to be. All too often people do not see the true reality of war, and this allows them to be more accepting of war when it happens." p.19 "We have no common race in this country; but we have an ideal to which all of us are loyal: we cannot progress if we look down upon any group of people amongst us because of race or religion. Every citizen in this country has a right to our basic freedoms, to justice and to equality of opportunity. We retain the right to lead our individual lives as we please, but we can only do so if we grant to others the freedoms that we wish for ourselves." (Eleanor Roosevelt) p.199.
Beattie, Andrew and Paul Ehrlich, Wild Solutions. How Biodiversity Is Money in the Bank. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.
Gerald N., Infection: the Uninvited Universe. New York: St. Martin's
"All life on this planet relies on bacteria". p.18 "Most of the effects that bacteria have on animals, including humans, result from bacteria taking control of host genes". p.21 "The children who had grown up under the dirtiest conditions had the fewest allergies and asthmas". p.23 "Most of the DNA inside of human chromosomes isn't human at all". p.39 "Eight percent of the DNA found in human chromosomes is functional, potentially active, viral DNA. That is nearly as many viral genes as we have human genes". p.40 "Placental mammals have a gene called Peg10, which is not found in marsupials. Mice who lack the Peg10 gene do not produce normal placentas, and their fetuses die very early during development. So it appears that Peg10 is essential for the development of a normal mammalian placenta. Peg10 is derived from a type of gene known as a retrotransposon. Some retrotransposons, like Peg10, are remnants of retroviruses. Peg10 is a modern reminder of an ancient infection. And Peg10 has given to us the wonder of human reproduction and the miracle of the human mind". p.42
Chang, Iris, The Rape of Nanking. New York: Basic Books, 1997 (about what humans are capable of, both the worst and the best).
Cohen, Jon, Almost Chimpanzee. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2010.
"'What's crucial at an ethical level and a moral level … is that there is no animal anywhere in the world where I've experienced what I've experienced with a chimp. To walk into a situation absolutely cold and within minutes understand what's going on around me because all of my life I've seen what's going on with the people around me. That understanding which is absolutely intuitive. And that feeling of knowing what's happening does not exist with any other species.' It was early afternoon, and I was sitting against a tree and resting from a long morning of chimping while more than a dozen chimpanzees scattered about me in a midday siesta, reclining with one hand behind the head, picking through one another's hair, playing with their babies, quietly digesting food and thoughts from a busy morning foraging. It was as though I had stumbled into a group of ancient humans. It was as though I was almost a chimpanzee myself.", pp.314-315. Cohen writes masterfully, and exhaustively details the science of human-chimpanzee differences.
Cone, Marla, Silent Snow -- The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic. New York: Grove Press, 2005.
"They were the same contaminants found in the milk of women in the south -- PCBs and pesticides -- but the milk of the arctic mothers had up to ten times more than that of the mothers in Canada's biggest cities. ... [T]he PCB levels were the highest he had ever seen. Those women, the expert said, should stop breast-feeding their babies -- immediately. ... [T]he bodies of some Inuit there carried such extraordinary loads of chemicals that their bodies and breast milk could be classified as hazardous waste." p.31-2. "The Aleutian otters were supposed to be the uncontaminated ones, but he had never seen PCB numbers so high. How could otters inhabiting these remote Alaskan islands contain twice as much of these industrial compounds as otters off urban California?" p.35. "Derocher checked the sex of one bear as he routinely did, and found both a vagina and a penis-like knob." p.37. "[T]he evidence is overwhelming that toxic substances have spread throughout the Arctic, harming animals and people of the far North." p.39.
De Graaf, John, David Wann, and Thomas H. Naylor, Affluenza. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2001.
Deffeyes, Kenneth S., Hubbert's Peak -- The Impending World Oil Shortage. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.
"In 1956, the geologist M. King Hubbert predicted that U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s. Almost everyone, inside and outside the oil industry, rejected Hubbert's analysis. The controversy raged until 1970, when U.S. production of crude oil started to fall. Hubbert was right. Around 1995, several analysts began applying Hubbert's method to world oil production, and most of them estimate that the peak year for world oil will be between 2004 and 2008. These analyses were reported in some of the most widely circulated sources: Nature, Science, and Scientific American.", p.1.
Dower, John W., Ways of
Forgetting, Ways of Remembering: Japan in the Modern World. New York: The New
"In ways that have gone virtually unreported by the mass media, the dispute over the Smithsonian's exhibit has emerged as a case study of the many levels at which censorship can operate in an ostensibly democratic society - ranging from overt political repression (epitomized by Congressional pressure to change the Smithsonian exhibit and threats to cut the institution's appropriations) to subtle forms of self-censorship. We praise other countries, especially those in the former Communist camp, for engaging in critical reappraisal of the past. We castigate the Japanese when they sanitize the war years and succumb to 'historical amnesia'. Yet, at the same time, we skewer our public historians for deviating from Fourth of July historiography. We are so besieged by polemics and sound bites that almost no one has time to dwell on the irony of demanding a pristine, heroic official version of a war that presumably was fought to protect principled contention and the free play of ideas." (Dower, pp.178-180)
I've never enjoyed history, ever since my high school American History class consisted of memorizing the teacher's outline. So Dower's book really opened my eyes. This is the way history should be written and taught: tell the unvarnished truth, regardless of what people would prefer to hear. This is a very important, timeless book, whether you live in Japan, the U.S., or any other country. May it prevent World War III and catalyze the spread of true democracy! Thank you, librarians, for providing it!
Dubos, Rene', The Wooing of Earth. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1980.
"Laws may prevent exploitation or permanent occupation of wilderness areas, as in the case of national parks, but they cannot protect them against the damaging effects resulting from the mere presence of innumerable tourists", p.29. "There is no evidence ... that early humans always lived in ecological harmony with Nature out of respect for it", p.63. "The wilderness is being loved to death. The conflict between preservation and recreation is becoming more intense as more people seek the wilderness experience", p.136. "The only solution to the overuse and degradation of wilderness areas is in restriction of visitors", p.138.
David, Incognito -- The Secret Lives of the Brain. New York: Pantheon
"Our brains run mostly on autopilot" p.5. "When the brain finds a task it needs to solve, it rewires its own circuitry until it can accomplish the task with maximum efficiency. The task becomes burned into the machinery. This clever tactic accomplishes two things of chief importance for survival. The first is speed. Automatization permits fast decision making. The second reason to burn tasks into the circuitry is energy efficiency." pp.71-2.
Earle, Sylvia Sea Change - A Message of the Oceans. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1995.
There is no way that I can convey in a few words the enormous importance of this book! Sylvia Earle is the Rachel Carson of our time.
"Policy-makers' focus on short-term economic and social issues coupled with their overly optimistic, wishful thinking has led to overfishing and habitat destruction on a grand scale, worldwide. The vision of sustained use of wild populations in the sea has failed catastrophically, as is evidenced by the sharp drop or utter collapse of first one species, then another, that once seemed "endlessly abundant" and were earnestly "managed": More than one hundred species - including herring, cod, haddock, salmon, menhaden redfish, pollock, sharks, and several kinds of tuna - are in serious trouble." p.193 "More chemicals are being synthesized, used, and discarded into the atmosphere, groundwater, and the sea without clear understanding of their short- or long-range impacts on human health directly, and on the environment, which in turn is the basis for human survival and well being." p.234 "It is not a single event - the 1991 Persian Gulf War, or the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, or the advent of drift nets, or the destruction of the codfishery, or the loss of whales, reefs, or rainforests - that imperils the future of mankind. Rather, the combined effect of all of these, the "death of a thousand cuts," must rivet our attention, sharpen our awareness that we are part of, not apart from, the rest. We must act while there is still time to protect the basis of our survival." p.291 "Others wisely recognize that effective restoration efforts are comparable to the actions of doctors treating a sick patient: Recovery can be accelerated with some skillful help, but true healing requires time and active, natural processes that are beyond human understanding. It is sometimes possible to manipulate those processes, but they are frighteningly easy to disrupt and destroy. And impossible to create." p.303 "Once the health of the land, aiur, and water, and thus the people, is impaired, the expense of restoring it is staggering - but ignoring the problems is sure to be even more costly. This is the conclusion of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with respect to the formidable work involved in cleaning up and restoring to a reasonable state of good health areas used for disposal of toxic chemicals and nuclear wastes during the past fifty years. Despite the EPA's readiness to spend billions of dollars to detoxify disposal areas, especially those designated as "Superfund" sites, it is increasingly clear that while money can be used to make improvements, money alone cannot restore health. Those elusive but vital "natural processes" are absolutely crucial to successful restoration. Medical doctors are quick to point out that it is much more desirable and cost-effective to try to prevent, rather than cure, sickness. In this spirit, protecting and maintaining existing healthy ecosystems should command our highest priority. p.305 "I long for answers. How can individuals stop the actions that are degrading the quality of life, closing doors not only for future generations but also for those now alive? Whales are still being killed by wealthy nations as luxury food, despite worldwide outrage and awareness of their alternative value - economic, aesthetic, scientific, moral. Thousands of once-and-nevermore species are being rendered extinct each year, perhaps as many as four a minute, through rainforest destruction and loss of other unique ecosystems. With brazen indifference to world opinion and international agreements, some nations still dump highly toxic materials into the sea and sky, a deadly legacy for the future, with immediate consequences for those around here and now. Despite clear evidence that ocean ecosystems are collapsing and fish populations can not sustain commercial taking, huge nets, trawlers, and factory ships are still being deployed, and more are being built. Clearly, is is not possible to go back and redirect history. But now - not for long - there is a chance, a brief window of opportunity to restore and protect the remaining healthy ecosystems that support us. Most important, most urgent, we must protect the principle substance of the biosphere: the sea." p.322
John, Steven Weitzman, Matthias Lehmann, Joshua Holo, The Jews -- A History.
New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009.
"Perhaps the best single volume on the Jewish Experience", David Meyers, University of California, Los Angeles
Ehrenfeld, David, The Arrogance of Humanism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.
"A clever person can use reason to support any course of action that he or she fancies -- it takes decent feelings to pick the right one", p.146. "Last night I listened to one of my favorite pieces of early baroque music. It reminded me, as it always does, of the sea pounding relentlessly on a dark beach where I have spend many nights waiting to watch the giant sea turtles, last of their noble race, heave themselves out of the depths to lay their gleaming eggs in the black sand. The music saddened me beyond my power to express, because I know that it could not have been written in my time; there has been too much progress; there is not enough peace. It saddened me because it reminded me of the sea, the sea that gave birth to human beings, that we carry with us yet in our very cells. It saddened me because it reminded me that in my century nothing is totally free of the taint of our arrogance. We have defiled everything, much of it forever, even the farthest jungles of the Amazon and the air above the mountains, even the everlasting sea which gave us birth." p.269. [The thesis of this book is that technology always has unintended harmful consequences, which, in a vicious cycle, we always promise to repair … with more technology!]
Ehrlich, Paul R. and Ehrlich, Anne H., Extinction: The Causes and Consequences of the Disappearances of Species. New York: Random House, 1981.
Riane, The Real Wealth of Nations. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler
Publishers, Inc., 2007.
"The long-term benefits of caring policies far exceed their cost. Caring Policies make for happier, more productive workers, stronger families, and more fulfiling lives. They lead to higher financial profits. And in the bargain, they make for a stronger, more productive economy." p.53 "Ultimately, the real wealth of a nation lies in the quality of its human capital. ... An investment in human capital is an investment in human beings. It is the enhancement of the quality of life of human beings, of human happiness and fulfillment, not just the ability to earn income in the market. This is fundamental to the holistic concept of caring economics. ... By natural capital I don't just mean a nation's natural resources but also our planet's ecological health, since without this we risk losing everything, including our lives. This too is fundamental to caring economics. Financial profits should not be the be-all and end-all of business and economic policy. The welfare of people and the health of the planet must be overriding goals of sound business and economic policies." p.58-9 "This problem of political corruption is a major factor in the failure of economic policies to protect the sixth economic sector: the natural economy. Although it may not always be called corruption, when powerful corporate interests basically buy protection for environmentally destructive policies through campaign contributions, that's what it is." p.158 "This dominator heritage still informs present corporate design and practice. While shareholders have replaced kings, the modern corporation is basically a money-making machine, with little regard for anything else, including people and nature. And while the rules for the creation and operation of corporations are made by government charters, these charters still basically define business corporations solely as instruments for making short-term mnonetary profits for shareholders and accumulating financial assets." p.161 "How scientific breakthroughs are applied largely depends on the ethos guiding science. Today, the governing scientific ethos is still one of 'detached objectivity'. ... If we look more closely, what passes for detachment is often a suppression of 'soft' qualities such as empathy and caring disguised by the argument that it's not appropriate to inject 'subjectivity' into 'objective' science." p.174 "Respect for women's rights and children's rights is a prerequisite for a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous future." p.225
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, "Self-Reliance" and other essays in Essays and Journals. Garden City, NY, 1968.
Engwicht, David, "2040 -- A Message from the Future" (a videotaped satire on the end of the Auto Age, available from email@example.com; skewers the auto/road/oil industry like no other film).
Flannery, Tim, The Eternal Frontier -- An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples. New York: Grove Press,2001.
"The behaviours animals use to avoid predators are both genetically based and learned. The genetic component is acquired through natural selection and so can only slowly be developed. This may account in part for the fact that most of the world's surviving large mammals live in Africa, for it was there that humanity evolved, and it was only there that animals had the time to acquire the genetically based behaviours that allowed them to cope with the new predator. … Given the level of efficiency achieved by Clovis hunters, it seems unlikely that the Columbian mammoth had time to acquire either an appropriate genetic or learned response to the threat humans posed." Pp.198-9.
Foreman, Dave, Confessions of an Eco-Warrior. New York: Harmony Books, 1991.
"A step beyond Primeval management would be human exclosure zones: large areas where no human beings, including scientific researchers or rangers, would be permitted." p.68.
Forman, Richard T. T., Daniel Sperling, and Frederick J. Swanson, Road Ecology: Science & Solutions. Island Press, 2002.
Gandhi, Arun, Legacy of Love. My Education in the Path of Nonviolence. El Sobrante, California: North Bay Books, 2003.
"It is difficult for me to believe that humanity is the end product and ultimate beneficiary of all creation." p.115. "We must be the change we wish to see in the world." (Mohandas Gandhi) p.137.
Gandhi, Mohandas, Essential Writings, Selected with an Introduction by John Dear. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002.
"Complete nonviolence is complete absence of ill will against all that lives. It therefore embraces even subhuman life not excluding noxious insects or beasts." p.101. "It is discipline and restraint that separates us from the brute." P.131.
Gatto, John Taylor, A Different Kind of Teacher. Berkeley, California: Berkeley Hills Books, 2001.
"Schools train individuals to respond as a mass. Boys and girls are drilled in being bored, frightened, envious, emotionally needy, generally incomplete. A successful mass production economy requires such a clientele. Small business and farm economies, like those of the Amish, require individual competence, thoughtfulness, compassion, and universal participation. Our own economy requires a managed mass of levelled, spiritless, anxious, family-less, friendless, godless, and obedient people who believe the difference between Coke and Pepsi is a subject worth arguing about." p.51. "television destroys the power to think by providing pre-seen sights, pre-thought thoughts, and unwholesome fantasies" p.68.
Gladwell, Malcolm, Blink. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005.
"When Julie Landsman auditioned for the role of principal French horn at the Met, the screens had just gone up in the practice hall. At the time, there were no women in the brass section of the orchestra, because everyone 'knew' that women could not play the horn as well as men. But Landsman came and sat down and played – and she played well. 'I knew in my last round that I had won before they told me,' she says. 'It was because of the way I performed the last piece. I held on to the last high C for a very long time, just to leave no doubt in their minds. And they started to laugh, because it was above and beyond the call of duty.' But when they declared her the winner and she stepped out from behind the screen, there was a gasp. It wasn't just that she was a woman, and female horn players were rare, as had been the case with Conant. And it wasn't just that bold, extended high C, which was the kind of macho sound that they expected from a man only. It was because they knew her. Landsman had played for the Met before as a substitute. Until they listened to her with just their ears, however, they had no idea she was so good. When the screen created a pure Blink moment, a small miracle happened, the kind of miracle that is always possible when we take charge of the first two seconds: they saw her for who she truly was." p.254.
Goldberg, Zosia, Running through Fire - How I Survived the Holocaust. San Francisco: Mercury House, 2003.
"'My dear child,' he said. 'Don't feel sorry for yourself all the time. Other people went through horrible things, too. You have to keep on living.' He gave me spirit." p.173. I don't have the words to express how wonderful this book is. It is one of the best books I have ever read! It shows humans at our worst and at our best, with the latter of course prevailing. It should be required reading for everyone.
Griffin, Donald, Animal Thinking. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1984.
"[The] assumption of a human monopoly on conscious thinking becomes more and more difficult to defend as we learn about the ingenuity of animals in coping with problems in their normal lives." p.47.
Hargraves, Robert, Thorium -- Energy Cheaper than Coal. 2012.
curb global warming and the acidification of the ocean, we need to stop burning
fossil fuels. But no one will do that, unless we provide them energy that is
cheaper. There are only two such possibilities: (1) the liquid fluoride thorium
nuclear reactor, or (2) cold fusion. The latter is of course preferable, but
the only company pursuing it is Brillouin Energy, which is just getting off the
ground. This book is an extremely clear exposition of the case for
thorium-fueled nuclear reactors. They (1) use fuel that is cheaper and far more
plentiful than uranium, (2) produce 1/1000 as much radioactive waste, (3) produce
waste with a half life of 300 years, instead of 300,000, (4) cannot lead to an
explosion, and (5) cannot be used to create nuclear weapons.
Everyone should read this book -- and as soon as possible!
Nadine Burke, The Deepest Well. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.
Everyone should read this book, and as soon as possible! Finally, science has recognized, and medical professionals are starting to recognize, that childhood adversity can cause permanent physical harm - harm that can only be prevented by early intervention by everyone - parents, schools, law enforcement, psychiatrists, doctors, etc. Dr. Harris is a wonderful, captivating writer, as well as a medical heroine.
Knight, Richard L. and Kevin J. Gutzwiller, eds. Wildlife and Recreationists. Covelo, California: Island Press, c.1995.
B. Blake Levitt, _Electromagnetic Fields -- A Consumer's Guide to the Issues and How to Protect Ourselves_. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1995.
"The Best guidelines at present appear to be those recommended by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) in its Report No. 86, titled 'Biological Effects and Exposure Criteria for Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields'. ... The phone number is 800-229-2652." p.31.
Elizabeth, The Sixth Extinction - An Unnatural History: New York, Picador,
"Though it might be nice to imagine there once was a time when man lived in harmony with nature, it's not clear that he ever really did", p.235. This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is very informative, and although it might seem from the subject that it would be depressing, it's not!
Livingston, John A., Rogue Primate. Toronto, Ontario: Key Porter Books, 1994.
"Give a lower animal a 'self', and before you know it, some ideological subversive will want to give it a soul." p.98 "Few exercises in rationalization have involved quite so much intellectual pretzel-bending as has the task of demonstrating absolute human uniqueness. Our obsession with this is revealing. It's not enough that every individual, and every species, is a unique, one-time-only event. Fanatical humanism demands more. All species are unique, we may acknowledge, but one species is uniquely unique." p.100 "Washoe was 'self-aware'. This was flabbergasting. And for many people it was deeply unsettling. We seemed to be witnessing the collapse of the last bastion of human uniqueness. Something had to be done about Washoe. Human brows furrowed in thought. Then came the answer. Of course! How blindingly obvious! Washoe was not aware that she was self-aware. One could almost feel the collective sigh of relief. We could not know this, of course, but it was fundamental to the shoring-up of the collective self-esteem that we assert." pp.101-102 "By far the most penetrating -- merciless -- analysis of humanistic ideology has been that of David Ehrenfeld [in The Arrogance of Humanism]." p.139 "The clear assumption is that Nature owes us. It is Nature's appointed task -- its reason for being -- to maintain and nourish the human project. Nature was provided to serve the Chosen Species. That is the received cultural and historical wisdom that sustains such madness as 'sustainable development'." p.185 "'Evil' is a formidable word, but not an extreme one. If, after all, life diversity is manifestly good in an absolute sense, then its wanton spoilage and eradication is the opposite." p.195
Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan, Dazzle Gradually – Reflections on the Nature of Nature. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, c. 2007.
"For as long as I can remember, when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered, 'An explorer and a writer.' Explorer of what? As a child, I didn't know: undersea cities, African jungle pyramids, unmapped tropical islands, polar caves. 'Whatever will need exploring,' I said without hesitation." p.3. "We are recombinations of the metabolic processes of bacteria that appeared during the accumulation of atmospheric oxygen some two thousand million years ago. We tend to separate ourselves from the rest of life, yet without the others, especially the microbial others, we would sink in our feces, drown in our urine, and choke in the carbon dioxide we exhale." p.35.
Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan, Microcosmos -- Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, c. 1986.
Martin, Paul S. Twilight of the Mammoths Ice Age Extinctions and the Rewilding of America. Berkeley: University of California Press, c.2005.
"As our species spread to various continents,
we wiped out their large mammals; as we progressed to oceanic islands, we
extinguished many mammals that were much smaller, and even more birds,
especially flightless species." p.48 "... the core piece of evidence
for human involvement is that when viewed globally, near-time extinctions
occurred episodically, in a pattern not correlating with climate change or any
other known factor other than the spread of our species." p.51
"Because horses evolved here, flourished for tens of millions of years,
and vanished around 13,000 years ago, their arrival with the Spanish in the
1500s was a restoration, not an alien invasion." p.56 "I have
observed that in the country between nations which are at warwith each other
the greatest number of wild animals are to be found." p.180
"Prehistorians find that any given land begins to lose its wildness not
when the first Europeans arrive, but when the very first humans do." p.183
"When the Spanish arrived in America in the 1500s, they brought domestic
horses with them. These animals were much closer genetically to one of the
extinct American horses (Equus caballus) than some have realized." p.193
"It could be argued that, as the species responsible for the extinction of
so many taxa, humans have a corresponding responsibility to attempt their
restoration when feasible." p.202 "I can think of no better or more
important monument to the discovery of America than efforts at restarting the
evolution of our extinct fauna. It is already under way wherever free-ranging
horses or wild burros roam the range." p.216
Morrison, Reg, The Spirit in the Gene -- Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999.
"The fossil record shows that the arrival of human beings in an area has always coincided with a wave of extinctions" pp.147-8.
Myers, Norman, ed., Gaia: An Atlas of Planet Management, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1984.
"In 1974,the women of Reni in northern India took simple but effective action to stop tree felling. They threatened to hug the trees if the lumberjacks attempted to fell them. The women's protest (known as the Chipko movement) saved 12,000 sq km of sensitive watershed." P.57
Juergen (translated by Shelley Frisch). Einstein. Baltimore: The Johns
Hopkins University Press, 2005.
"Whoever writes grim fairy tales
Will end up in our harshest jails.
But if he dares the truth to tell
We'll cast his soul down into hell."
Albert Einstein, p.285.
Newbold, Heather, ed., Life Stories: World-Renowned Scientists Reflect on their Lives and the Future of Life on Earth. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.
"Instead of islands of wilderness in a sea of humanity, we should have islands of humanity in a sea of wilderness", p.49. "Although humanity is part of nature, it is no use just saying that. We have to work out how we harmonize with nature." p.119.
Newman, Peter and Jeffrey Kenworthy, The End of Automobile Dependence: How Cities are Moving Beyond Car-Based Planning. Island Press.
Newman, Peter W.G, J.R. Kenworthy and T.J. Lyons, "Does Free-Flowing Traffic Save Energy and Lower Emissions in Cities?" Search, Vol.19, No.5/6, September/November, 1988.
Newman, Peter W. G. and Jeffrey R. Kenworthy, Sustainability and Cities. Overcoming Automobile Dependence. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1999.
Newman, P. W. G. and J. R. Kenworthy, "The Transport Energy Trade-Off: Fuel-Efficient Traffic Versus Fuel-Efficient Cities". Transportation Research-A, Vol.22A, No.3, pp.163-174, 1988.
Newman, Peter W. G. and Jeffrey R. Kenworthy, "The Use and Abuse of Driving Cycle Research: Clarifying the Relationship between Traffic Congestion, Energy and Emissions". Transportation Quarterly, Vol.38, No.4, October, 1984 (615-635).
Norberg-Hodge, Helena, Ancient Futures – Learning from Ladakh. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1991.
"The old culture reflected fundamental human needs while respecting natural limits. And it worked! It worked for nature and it worked for people. ... I am convinced that people were significantly happier before development than they are today." p.136 "Development is stimulating dissatisfaction and greed; in so doing, it is destroying an economy that had served people's needs for more than a thousand years." p.141-2. "Unless the consumer monoculture is halted there is no hope of preventing greater poverty, social divisiveness, and ecological degradation." p.163
Noss, Reed F., "The Ecological Effects of Roads", in "Killing Roads -- A citizen's Primer on the Effects & Removal of Roads", "Earth First! Journal", May 1, 1990.
"Nothing is worse for sensitive wildlife than a road." p.1.
Noss, Reed F. and Allen Y. Cooperrider, Saving Nature's Legacy: Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity. Island Press, Covelo, California, 1994.
"Over 200 full species of plants, plus many more varieties, and 71 species and subspecies of vertebrates have gone extinct In North America north of Mexico since European settlement." p.16. "Every major human colonization of a new continent or island has been accompanied by a wave of extinctions, especially of large mammals and flightless birds." p.40. "Blocks of habitat that are roadless or otherwise inaccessible to humans are better than roaded and accessible habitat blocks." p.141. "Off-road vehicle use is so blatantly harmful and frivolous that we wonder why there is even a debate about continuing this use on public lands." p.143. "No off-road vehicles or other motorized equipment or mountain bikes." p.175. "Reduce road density as much as possible by closing, obliterating, and revegetating roads." p.217.
Pineda, Cecile, Devil's Tango -- How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step. San Antonio, TX: Wings Press, 2012.\
"Returning U.S. troops father severely deformed
children; their urine tests positive for uranium from exposure to DU [depleted
uranium]. There is a 'reason' for all this; nuclear waste, the waste products
of nuclear testing and nuclear reactors is now in the millions of tons; the
Pentagon's policy of using DU ordnance -- especially in oil-rich countries --
is an effort to GET RID of nuclear waste. But every time we turn on a light, or
turn on our computers to compose our poems, we are benefitting from nuclear
power; we are living in the pipeline that deliberately spews nuclear
by-products on the soils of 'other' people, members, like us, of the same human
race. Let us remember that we are one human flesh. Let us make 'words' that
stop the murder of a planet, which, last time I looked, was not the property of
General Dynamics, General Electric, or any other general murderer. But what
words will those be?" pp.102-3
Rosenberg, Marshall B., Nonviolent Communication. Encinitas, California: Puddle Dancer Press, 2015.
This is one of the most useful and important books I have ever read. "A sought-after presenter, peacemaker and visionary leader, Dr. Rosenberg led NVC workshops and international intensive trainings for tens of thousands of people in over 60 countries across the world and provided training and initiated peace programs in many war-torn areas including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the Middle East. He worked tirelessly with educators, managers, health care providers, lawyers, military officers, prisoners, police and prison officials, and individual families. With guitar and puppets in hand and a spiritual energy that filled a room, Marshall showed us how to create a more peaceful and satisfying world."
Sapolsky, Robert M., Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2004.
" ... traffic jams, money worries, overwork,
the anxieties of relationships. Few of them are 'real' in the sense that that
zebra or lion would understand. In our privileged lives, we are uniquely smart
enough to have invented these stressors and uniquely foolish enough to have let
them, too often, dominate our lives. Surely we have the potential to be
uniquely wise enough to banish their stressful hold." p. 418. [I have
rarely learned as much from a book as I did from this one. Sapolsky is both
very funny, and very scientifically rigorous. The book is about all the ways
that stress harms us, and how we can avoid that harm.]
Sears, Barry, The Anti-Inflammation Zone -- Reversing the Silent Epidemic That's Destroying Our Health. New York: Regan Books, 2005.
"At the turn of the twentieth century, the greatest physician in America was Sir William Osler. When asked why he didn't include a chapter on heart disease in his classic textbook of medicine, he replied the disease is so rare that most physicians would never see it. However, all this began to change." p.249 "'The USDA Pyramid is wrong.' Walter Willett" p.303 "This war based on good intentions would undermine the health of millions of Americans by unleashing a new and frightening epidemic of silent inflammation that is fueled by obesity." p.304 "Currently, about 7 percent of adult Americans have type 2 diabetes, and I estimate once that figure reaches 10 percent of the adult population, we will be unable to pay for the resulting health care costs, regardless of our economic strength." p.308 http://www.zonediet.com/
Seife, Charles, Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking. New York, NY: The Penguin Group, 2008.
"The promise of a fusion reactor a few decades away has been a cliche' for a half century. Every time it is repeated, it just illuminates how generation after generation of scientists, drunk with the promise of personal glory and unlimited energy, keep forgetting the hard lessons learned by their predecessors. The quest to put a star in the bottle is intoxicating. Fusion might be the energy source of the future. If fusion scientists are unable to rid themselves of their intemperate self-deception, it always will be." p.227.
Ken, The Radioactive Boy Scout -- The Frightening True Story of a Whiz Kid
and his Homemade Nuclear Reactor. New York: Villard Books, 2005 (originally
Random House, 2004).
"[The] Chernobyl ... fallout is believed to have ultimately killed thousands of people and poisoned hundreds of thousands more. ... [The] accident cost the Soviet Union more than three times the total benefits that accrued from the operation of every Russian nuclear-power plant between 1954 and 1990." pp. 88-89 "As the Fermi accident unfolded, the plant management ... and government authorities were careful to keep the press and the public in the dark. ... It was almost two decades before reporters and independent investigators uncovered the full story." pp. 123-124. "'Many homeowners would sooner burn coal in their own fireplaces than live next to a reactor.' Furthermore, the industry has yet to come up with a long-term solution to the problem of storing nuclear waste generated by its power plants, which continues to pile up on-site and at temporary disposal stations around the country. ... With fifty-nine nuclear reactors, France occupies second place in the nuclear-power club, followed by Japan with fifty-four, Britain with thirty-five, and Russia with twenty-nine. But as in America, nuclear-power production is declining in relative terms in those countries as well. Meanwhile, Italy has phased out nuclear power, and Belgium, Germany, Holland, and Sweden have decided to follow suit. According to a 2001 report from the International Energy Agency, 'Nuclear power is currently being abandoned globally.'" pp.200-201
Simberloff, Daniel, Don C. Schmitz, and Tom C. Brown, eds., Strangers in Paradise: Impact and Management of Nonindigenous Species in Florida. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1997.
"Florida's most destructive nonindigenous population ... will probably continue to be the 14 million people derived from foreign ancestries." p.315.
Singer, Peter, Animal Liberation. A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals. New York: Avon Books, 1975.
Stanford, Craig, Significant Others -- The Ape-Human Continuum and the Quest for Human Nature. New York, N.Y.: Basic Books, 2001.
"To understand human nature, you must understand the apes. Significant Others is a field guide to the current state of our understanding of both human and ape nature and to the debates now raging in the fields of primate behavior and human evolution." p.xviii. "Contrary to our popular belief, people who rely on forest resources for a living do not necessarily try to conserve it. … A second myth … is that economic improvements necessarily lead people to protect their forests and wildlife." pp.195-6.
Steingraber, Sandra, Living Downstream -- An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment. New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1997. (Words cannot do justice to this easy-to-read collage of meticulous science and lyric storytelling. And, as if that weren't enough, it may save your life!)
"According to the most recent tally, forty possible carcinogens appear in drinking water, sixty are released by industry into ambient air, and sixty-six are routinely sprayed on food crops as pesticides." p.270.
Jim. Brave New West - Morphing Moab at the Speed of Greed. Tucson: The
University of Arizona Press, 2007.
"The West's dwindling wildlands are being done a disservice by a great deal of dishonesty. Many of the extractors try to pass themselves off as environmentalists, but it's a lie. There are still many brave and courageous environmentalists out here who fight for the land because it is simply the right thing to do, because wilderness, of and by itself, has value. They are not here because they stand to make a profit. But their efforts are being thwarted by environmental consumers or, even worse, enviropreneurs, those peddlers of beauty who eye unlimited high-end tourism and gated communities with the same greedy lust as that of a Forty-niner. Commodifiers of nature threaten its very existence." pp.4-5 "It was as if he was saying 'We can let the anti-wilderness people destroy the West on their terms or we can fight to destroy it on our terms. And aren't our terms of destruction better than theirs? After all, before we destroy the wilderness, we're going to protect it.'" p.185 "'There are some areas that ... should be left alone for their own intrinsic worth and not just for human economics or even human enjoyment.'" p.200 "'We need more people out there, not less [sic].'" p.213 "New Westerners drive hundreds or thousands of miles in gas-consuming vehicles so they can pedal their bikes for ten, and then they claim that they're nonmotorized recreationists." p.231-2 "The fact that desert bighorns have vanished from the Gemini Bridges area near Moab is not because of the seismic work that environmentalists fought in the early 1990s. It's recreationists, both motorized and nonmotorized, that have driven them into hiding. Also, many seismic trail habitats never get a chance to recover because bicyclists and ATVers keep using them." p.233-4 "While New Westerners decry the loss of wildlife habitat, the fact is, most wildlife adapts quite well to inanimate objects, including oil wells. It's constant human intrusions that can critically disrupt wildlife habitat." p.234 "We humans are a tragic lot, not because of our malevolence and greed but our indifference. ... Our willingness to submit to things we know are wrong is always our undoing. It doesn't have to be like that." p.259
Stone, Christopher D., Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects. Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1973.
Suzuki, David and Keibo Oiwa, The Japan We Never Knew. Toronto: Stoddard Publishing Co. Ltd., 1996.
This eloquent look at the social and ecological status of several of the minorities and aboriginal peoples of Japan shows exactly why diversity should be valued: such peoples often have a clearer view, and more sustainable practices, than the majority culture. This is not just a book about Japan, but one with truly urgent and timeless value for all of humanity. "Many of the large, industrialized cities of Japan are ecological nightmares, biological deserts entombed in concrete and asphalt, with rivers choking on industrial sludge and garbage, air thick with exhaust fumes and factory emissions. The pollution became more intense the closer we got to Tokyo. The problems here can be seen as [as] much a failure of education as of politics and business. ... Around the world, social structures are collapsing under the weight of explosive population growth and massive shifts in where this population lives. There are enormous pressures of widespread poverty, ecological collapse, civil strife, and the increase in new and old diseases -- AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis. Highly industrialized countries like Japan, which depend on global resources and markets, are beginning to confront the reality of their dependence on renewable and nonrenewable products, of the planet's finite limits, and of the ecological and social unsustainability of our high consumption lifestyle. It is from the turmoil within the Japan that we now see that new paradigms, priorities, lifestyles, and goals are emerging. They provide an important source of new ways of perceiving, thinking, and acting for all of us in the global village who strive to find ways to achieve social, economic, and environmental balance." pp.303-4.
Taylor, Paul W., Respect for Nature. A Theory of Environmental Ethics. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1986.
"Being willing to take the standpoint of nonhuman living things and to make informed, objective judgments from that standpoint is one of the central elements of the ethics of respect for nature." p.67.
Terborgh, John, Carel van Schaik, Lisa Davenport, and Madhu Rao, eds., Making Parks Work. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2002.
"Humans, even in low numbers, are incompatible with the persistence of megaherbivores and top carnivores, two groups of animals that are among the most crucial to maintaining normal ecosystem functioning." p.7. "Prevention of … conflict by achieving spatial separation between humans and wildlife appears to be an attractive proposition." p.259. "We do not find any evidence that [coexistence of humans and wildlife in parks] is beneficial for either conservation or human welfare." p.260. "As a matter of principle, people-free parks [no human residents] should always be the ultimate goal. It is the only goal that over the long run is consistent with the requirements of biodiversity conservation. Thus, all relevant policies should be directed to reducing the human presence within parks." p.310.
Terborgh, John, Requiem for Nature. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2002.
The Middlesex Fells [near Boston] is one of an extremely small number of protected areas to have been thoroughly inventoried early in its history. In 1894, two of the most eminent botanists in the United States at that time, Merritt Fernald and Liberty Hyde Bailey, documented the presence of 422 plant species, including trees, shrubs, vines, herbs, and ferns. Ninety-nine years later, in 1993, Brian Drayton and Richard Primack of Boston University resurveyed the Fells. Despite a search that covered every corner of the reserve, they failed to locate 155 of the species that had been present at the first survey, 37 percent of the 1894 list.
Turse, Nick, The Complex -- How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008.
Vandeman, Michael J., https://mjvande.info, especially “Wildlife and the Ecocity”, "Wildlife Need Habitat Off-Limits to Humans!", "Rethinking the Impacts of Recreation", "Telling the Truth about Chimpanzees", "The Myth of the Sustainable Lifestyle", and "What Is Homo Sapiens' Place in Nature, from an Objective (Biocentric) Point of View?"
Ward, Peter Douglas, The End of Evolution: On Mass Extinctions and the Preservation of Biodiversity. New York: Bantam Books, 1994.
Wiesel, Elie, Night. New York: Hill and Wang, 1958.
"Moishe was not the same. The joy in his eyes was gone. He no longer sang. He no longer mentioned either God or Kabbalah. He spoke only of what he had seen. But people not only refused to believe his tales, they refused to listen. Some even insinuated that he only wanted their pity, that he was imagining things. Others flatly said that he had gone mad." p.7 "I didn't know that this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever. I kept walking, my father holding my hand." p.29 "For the first time, I felt anger rising within me. Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank him for?" p.33 "Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never." p.34 "Those were my thoughts when I heard the sound of a violin. A violin in a dark barrack where the dead were piled on top of the living? Who was this madman who played the violin here, at the edge of his own grave? Or was it a hallucination?" pp.94-5 "Listen to me, kid. Don't forget that you are in a concentration camp. In this place, it is every man for himself, and you cannot think of others. Not even your father. In this place, there is no such thing as father, brother, friend. Each of us lives and dies alone. Let me give you good advice: stop giving your ration of bread and soup to your old father. You cannot help him anymore." p.110 "No prayers were said over his tomb. No candle lit in his memory. His last word had been my name. He had called out to me and I had not answered." p.112 "The resistance movement decided at that point to act. Armed men appeared from everywhere. Bursts of gunshots. Grenades exploding. We, the children, remained flat on the floor of the block. The battle did not last long. Around noon, everything was calm again. The SS had fled and the resistance had taken charge of the camp. At six o'clock that afternoon, the first American tank stood at the gates of Buchenwald." p.115.
Wilcove, David S., The Condor's Shadow. New York: Anchor Books, 1999.
"People and condors don't mix." p.239.
Wilson, Darryl Babe, The Morning the Sun Went Down. Berkeley, California: Heyday Books, 1998.
"All people must obey the Great Law, so the sweetness of life can continue", p.171. (Autobiography of a Native American from Northern California.)
Wilson, Edward O., The Diversity of Life. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1992.
Wilson, Edward O., The Future of Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.
"As a rule around the world, wherever a people entered a virgin environment, most of the megafauna soon vanished. Also doomed were a substantial fraction of the most easily captured ground birds and tortoises." p.92. "For hundreds of millenia, evolving humanity was a native species … in Africa and Asia. … The modern Races of Homo sapiens were a true alien species when they colonized the rest of the world, from Australia to the New World and finally the distant oceanic islands." p.98. "The noble savage never existed." p.102.
Wu, Hongda Harry, Laogai -- the Chinese Gulag. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992.
"The LRC [labor reform camps] are ... able to suppress class enemies, maintain the dictatorship, and also provide economic benefits. Is this not one of the CCP's [Chinese Communist Party's] great achievements?" p.141 "Mr. Wu has been focusing all of his energy on fulfilling a promise he made to himself in an oxcart leaving #586, the mass graveyard stretching across the fields behind Qinghe Farm – to reveal to the world the true nature of China's laogaidui system in the hope that one day it will take its place in history beside Treblinka and Dachau" p.233.
Wuerthner, George "Selfish Genes, Local Control, and Conservation", in Wild Earth, Winter 1999/2000, pp.87-91.