Book picks similar to
Forgotten Fires: Native Americans and the Transient Wilderness by Omer C. Stewart
Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources
M. Kat Anderson - 2005
But as this groundbreaking book demonstrates, what Muir was really seeing when he admired the grand vistas of Yosemite and the gold and purple flowers carpeting the Central Valley were the fertile gardens of the Sierra Miwok and Valley Yokuts Indians, modified and made productive by centuries of harvesting, tilling, sowing, pruning, and burning. Marvelously detailed and beautifully written, Tending the Wild is an unparalleled examination of Native American knowledge and uses of California's natural resources that reshapes our understanding of native cultures and shows how we might begin to use their knowledge in our own conservation efforts.M. Kat Anderson presents a wealth of information on native land management practices gleaned in part from interviews and correspondence with Native Americans who recall what their grandparents told them about how and when areas were burned, which plants were eaten and which were used for basketry, and how plants were tended. The complex picture that emerges from this and other historical source material dispels the hunter-gatherer stereotype long perpetuated in anthropological and historical literature. We come to see California's indigenous people as active agents of environmental change and stewardship. Tending the Wild persuasively argues that this traditional ecological knowledge is essential if we are to successfully meet the challenge of living sustainably.
This Is Your Mind on Plants
Michael Pollan - 2021
Exploring and participating in the cultures that have grown up around these drugs while consuming (or, in the case of caffeine, trying not to consume) them, Pollan reckons with the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants. Why do we go to such great lengths to seek these shifts in consciousness, and then why do we fence that universal desire with laws and customs and fraught feelings?
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
Robin Wall Kimmerer - 2013
As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these lenses of knowledge together to show that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings are we capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learning to give our own gifts in return.
Gladesmen: Gator Hunters, Moonshiners, and Skiffers
Glen Simmons - 1998
. . should have strong, immediate interest for the ecologists engaged in efforts to restore the Everglades."--William B. Robertson, research biologist for Everglades National ParkFrom the book--Pa built our house out of rough lumber that they got from Frazier’s sawmill . . . a one-room house about 16 to 18 feet long and 12 feet wide. We all slept on cots and sat on boxes or a trunk. The kitchen was in the corner, and Ma cooked on a four-hole stove, which cost six dollars. Me and my middle brother, Alvin, sat on a trunk to eat at the table. That trunk had some long cracks in it. My brother knew just how to move so the crack would pinch . . . .Years before the Park was established, when all the land and marsh seemed to belong to me, we would help ourselves to whatever we could see or trade for survival. Mostly we would sell gator and otter hides. . . . On this particular trip, after grunting awhile at the gator hole, I gave up and made tracks to the camp since I wanted to return by dark. . . . I was lying under my skeeter bar with a small tarp stretched between two cabbage palms. About midnight, I heard the dried cabbage fronds breaking in the path toward my camp. The night was pitch black . . .Few people today can claim a living memory of Florida's frontier Everglades. Glen Simmons, who has hunted alligators, camped on hammock-covered islands, and poled his skiff through the mangrove swamps of the glades since the 1920s, is one who can. Together with Laura Ogden, he tells the story of backcountry life in the southern Everglades from his youth until the establishment of the Everglades National Park in 1947. During the economic bust of the late ‘20s, when many natives turned to the land to survive, Simmons began accompanying older local men into Everglades backcountry, the inhospitable prairie of soft muck and mosquitoes, of outlaws and moonshiners, that rings the southern part of the state. As Simmons recalls life in this community with humor and nostalgia, he also documents the forgotten lifestyles of south Florida gladesmen. By necessity, they understood the natural features of the Everglades ecosystem. They observed the seasonal fluctuations of wildlife, fire, and water levels. Their knowledge of the mostly unmapped labyrinth of grassy water enabled them to serve as guides for visiting naturalists and scientists. Simmons reconstructs this world, providing not only fascinating stories of individual personalities, places, and events, but an account that is accurate, both scientifically and historically, of one of the least known and longest surviving portions of the American frontier.Glen Simmons has lived in the south Florida Everglades since his birth in 1916 in Homestead. In 1995 he was awarded a State of Florida Heritage Award for his unique contribution to Florida's history and folk culture. He has demonstrated and taught glades skiff building for the Florida Department of State, Bureau of Folklife, and the South Florida Historical Society; his boats are on permanent display at the Florida Folklife Museum in White Springs, Florida, and at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, Miami.Laura Ogden, also born in Homestead and a life-long friend of Glen Simmons, is assistant professor of anthropology at Florida International University.
The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World (CBC Massey Lecture)
Wade Davis - 2009
In Polynesia we set sail with navigators whose ancestors settled the Pacific ten centuries before Christ. In the Amazon we meet the descendants of a true lost civilization, the Peoples of the Anaconda. In the Andes we discover that the earth really is alive, while in Australia we experience Dreamtime, the all-embracing philosophy of the first humans to walk out of Africa. We then travel to Nepal, where we encounter a wisdom hero, a Bodhisattva, who emerges from forty-five years of Buddhist retreat and solitude. And finally we settle in Borneo, where the last rain forest nomads struggle to survive. Understanding the lessons of this journey will be our mission for the next century. For at risk is the human legacy--a vast archive of knowledge and expertise, a catalog of the imagination. Rediscovering a new appreciation for the diversity of the human spirit, as expressed by culture, is among the central challenges of our time.
Zero Hour for Gen X: How the Last Adult Generation Can Save America from Millennials
Matthew Hennessey - 2018
Soon Gen Xers will be the only cohort of Americans who remember life as it was lived before the arrival of the Internet. They are, as Hennessey dubs them, “the last adult generation,” the sole remaining link to a time when childhood was still a bit dangerous but produced adults who were naturally resilient. More than a decade into the social media revolution, the American public is waking up to the idea that the tech sector’s intentions might not be as pure as advertised. The mountains of money being made off our browsing habits and purchase histories are used to fund ever-more extravagant and utopian projects that, by their very natures, will corrode the foundations of free society, leaving us all helpless and digitally enslaved to an elite crew of ultra-sophisticated tech geniuses. But it’s not too late to turn the tide. There’s still time for Gen X to write its own future. A spirited defense of free speech, eye contact, and the virtues of patience, Zero Hour for Gen X is a cultural history of the last 35 years, an analysis of the current social and historical moment, and a generational call to arms.
The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
Wendell Berry - 1977
In it, Wendell Berry argues that good farming is a cultural development and spiritual discipline. Today’s agribusiness, however, takes farming out of its cultural context and away from families. As a result, we as a nation are more estranged from the land—from the intimate knowledge, love, and care of it. Sadly, as Berry notes in his Afterword to this third edition, his arguments and observations are more relevant than ever. We continue to suffer loss of community, the devaluation of human work, and the destruction of nature under an economic system dedicated to the mechanistic pursuit of products and profits. Although “this book has not had the happy fate of being proved wrong,” Berry writes, there are good people working “to make something comely and enduring of our life on this earth.” Wendell Berry is one of those people, writing and working, as ever, with passion, eloquence, and conviction.
Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations
David R. Montgomery - 2007
It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. This fascinating yet disquieting book finds, however, that we are running out of dirt, and it's no laughing matter. An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations explores the compelling idea that we are—and have long been—using up Earth's soil. Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, slowly enough to be ignored in a single lifetime but fast enough over centuries to limit the lifespan of civilizations. A rich mix of history, archaeology and geology, Dirt traces the role of soil use and abuse in the history of Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, China, European colonialism, Central America, and the American push westward. We see how soil has shaped us and we have shaped soil—as society after society has risen, prospered, and plowed through a natural endowment of fertile dirt. David R. Montgomery sees in the recent rise of organic and no-till farming the hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations.
Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World
Simon Winchester - 2021
It quite literally underlies and underpins everything. Employing the keen intellect, insatiable curiosity, and narrative verve that are the foundations of his previous bestselling works, Simon Winchester examines what we human beings are doing—and have done—with the billions of acres that together make up the solid surface of our planet.Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World examines in depth how we acquire land, how we steward it, how and why we fight over it, and finally, how we can, and on occasion do, come to share it. Ultimately, Winchester confronts the essential question: who actually owns the world’s land—and why does it matter?
Smart Power: Climate Change, the Smart Grid, and the Future of Electric Utilities
Peter Fox-Penner - 2010
This and other developments will prompt utilities to undergo the largest changes in their history. Smart Power examines the many facets of this unprecedented transformation. This enlightening book begins with a look back on the deregulatory efforts of the 1990s and their gradual replacement by concerns over climate change, promoting new technologies, and developing stable prices and supplies. In thorough but non-technical terms it explains the revolutionary changes that the Smart Grid is bringing to utility operations. It also examines the options for low-carbon emissions along with the real-world challenges the industry and its regulators must face as the industry retools and finances its new sources and systems. Throughout the book, Peter Fox-Penner provides insights into the policy choices and regulatory reform needed to face these challenges. He not only weighs the costs and benefits of every option, but presents interviews with informed experts, including economists, utility CEOs, and engineers. He gives a brief history of the development of the current utility business model and examines possible new business models that are focused on energy efficiency.Smart Power explains every aspect of the coming energy revolution for utilities in lively prose that will captivate even the most techno-phobic readers.
The World Without Us
Alan Weisman - 2007
In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; which everyday items may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe.The World Without Us reveals how, just days after humans disappear, floods in New York's subways would start eroding the city's foundations, and how, as the world's cities crumble, asphalt jungles would give way to real ones. It describes the distinct ways that organic and chemically treated farms would revert to wild, how billions more birds would flourish, and how cockroaches in unheated cities would perish without us. Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders from rabbis to the Dalai Lama, and paleontologists—who describe a prehuman world inhabited by megafauna like giant sloths that stood taller than mammoths—Weisman illustrates what the planet might be like today, if not for us.From places already devoid of humans (a last fragment of primeval European forest; the Korean DMZ; Chernobyl), Weisman reveals Earth's tremendous capacity for self-healing. As he shows which human devastations are indelible, and which examples of our highest art and culture would endure longest, Weisman's narrative ultimately drives toward a radical but persuasive solution that needn't depend on our demise. It is narrative nonfiction at its finest, and in posing an irresistible concept with both gravity and a highly readable touch, it looks deeply at our effects on the planet in a way that no other book has.
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
Charles C. Mann - 2005
Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492.Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew.
Islands of Abandonment
Cal Flyn - 2021
Investigative journalist Cal Flyn's ISLANDS OF ABANDONMENT, an exploration of the world's most desolate, abandoned places that have now been reclaimed by nature, from the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea to the "urban prairie" of Detroit to the irradiated grounds of Chernobyl, in an ultimately redemptive story about the power and promise of the natural world.
Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash
Edward Humes - 2012
But our bins are just the starting point for a strange, impressive, mysterious, and costly journey that may also represent the greatest untapped opportunity of the century. In Garbology, Edward Humes investigates trash—what’s in it; how much we pay for it; how we manage to create so much of it; and how some families, communities, and even nations are finding a way back from waste to discover a new kind of prosperity. Along the way , he introduces a collection of garbage denizens unlike anyone you’ve ever met: the trash-tracking detectives of MIT, the bulldozer-driving sanitation workers building Los Angeles’ Garbage Mountain landfill, the artists residing in San Francisco’s dump, and the family whose annual trash output fills not a dumpster or a trash can, but a single mason jar. Garbology reveals not just what we throw away, but who we are and where our society is headed. Waste is the one environmental and economic harm that ordinary working Americans have the power to change—and prosper in the process.
The Cabaret of Plants: Forty Thousand Years of Plant Life and the Human Imagination
Richard Mabey - 2016
Going back to the beginnings of human history, Mabey shows how flowers, trees, and plants have been central to human experience not just as sources of food and medicine but as objects of worship, actors in creation myths, and symbols of war and peace, life and death.Writing in a celebrated style that the Economist calls “delightful and casually learned,” Mabey takes readers from the Himalayas to Madagascar to the Amazon to our own backyards. He ranges through the work of writers, artists, and scientists such as da Vinci, Keats, Darwin, and van Gogh and across nearly 40,000 years of human history: Ice Age images of plant life in ancient cave art and the earliest representations of the Garden of Eden; Newton’s apple and gravity, Priestley’s sprig of mint and photosynthesis, and Wordsworth’s daffodils; the history of cultivated plants such as maize, ginseng, and cotton; and the ways the sturdy oak became the symbol of British nationhood and the giant sequoia came to epitomize the spirit of America.Complemented by dozens of full-color illustrations, The Cabaret of Plants is the magnum opus of a great naturalist and an extraordinary exploration of the deeply interwined history of humans and the natural world.