Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

New Year, New Books: The 14 Best Environmental Books of January

Popular
New Year, New Books: The 14 Best Environmental Books of January
Pixabay

By John R. Platt

It's a new year, and many of us have made our resolutions for the months ahead. Well, here's one more for you: Resolve to read about the critical environmental issues that will affect us not just this year but in the years to come.


Publishers have you covered for that resolution this month, with a wide array of interesting new books about climate change, wildlife, environmental history and sustainable food. Check out the list below for our picks for the 14 best eco-books of January 2019, with titles for everyone from wildlife-loving kids to professional conservationists. As usual our links are to publishers' or authors' websites, but you can also find any of these titles at your favorite bookseller or library.

Wildlife and Endangered Species

Giphy

The Snow Leopard Project and Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation by Alex Dehgan — A stunning true story about efforts to protect these endangered cats and other rare species while also helping to defend the human culture around them — and strengthening the bond between people and nature in the process.

Make a Home for Wildlife: Creating Habitat on Your Land by Charles Fergus — Whether you've got a tiny backyard or several acres, this could be a great book to make the most of the land around you.

A Puget Sound Orca in Captivity: The Fight to Bring Lolita Home by Sandra Pollard — If you want to understand the current plight of Southern Resident killer whales, it helps to start with their history. This is an important piece of that story, by the author of 2014's Puget Sound Whales for Sale.

Rotten! Vultures, Beetles, Slime and Nature's Other Decomposers by Anita Sanchez & Gilbert Ford — A fun kids' book about gross stuff like maggots and fungi, because what better way is there to get kids interested in nature?

Climate Change

Giphy

The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption by Dahr Jamail — A former war reporter takes his journalism skills to a new battle, traveling around the world to see the impacts of climate change firsthand.

Sudden Spring: Stories of Adaptation in a Climate-Changed South by Rick Van Noy — Tales of people and places already adapting to climate change — to help show the rest of us what we need to do sooner rather than later.

Biodiversity and Climate Change: Transforming the Biosphere edited by Thomas E. Lovejoy and Lee Hannah — Famed biologist Edward O. Wilson provides the foreword to this massive new book addressing how climate change will impact extinction risks, food webs, invasive species, migration routes, forests and much more — and how conservationists and policymakers can respond.

The Edge of Memory: Ancient Stories, Oral Tradition and the Post-Glacial World by Patrick Nunn — This isn't specifically about climate change, but it's still an important look at how traditional and indigenous folk stories and knowledge are full of valuable science about floods, shifting coastlines and other changing environments — in other words, information that can help us learn to adapt to future threats.

Climate Change and the People's Health by Sharon Friel — An academic book providing a framework for addressing both climate change and social inequality, since the former drives the latter and harms peoples' health in the process.

Paying for Pollution: Why a Carbon Tax Is Good for America by Gilbert E. Metcalf — Can market principles get us out of this climate change mess? An economist argues that they can. (Or, I don't know, we could just stop emitting carbon?)

Eco-Religion

Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis by David Loy — An important and thought-provoking call to action for Buddhists to save the planet, reflecting not just on the history of Buddhism but what it can do in the future.

Signs on the Earth: Islam, Modernity and the Climate Crisis by Fazlun Khalid — A religious case for an end to consumerism and industrialization, written by the founder of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Science.

Sustainable Agriculture & Food

Giphy

One Size Fits None: A Farm Girl's Search for the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture by Stephanie Anderson — We all want farming to be green and planet-healthy. Anderson explores farms around the country that are using nontraditional agricultural techniques and are giving back to the land in the process.

Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It? by Eric Holt-Gimenez — That's a good question! This short book (really a long essay) digs into the issues and argues that we already produce enough food to feed everyone on the planet, we're just growing and distributing it all wrong. Moving away from the existing exploitative system, Holt-Gimmenez argues, will both feed the planet and protect it from climate change and related threats.

Reposted with permission from our media associate The Revelator.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A quality engineer examines new solar panels in a factory. alvarez / Getty Images

Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.

For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.

"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."

To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.

"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."

So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

The frozen meat section at a supermarket in Hong Kong, China, in February. Chukrut Budrul / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Imported frozen food in three Chinese cities has tested positive for the new coronavirus, but public health experts say you still shouldn't worry too much about catching the virus from food or packaging.

Read More Show Less
This image of the Santa Monica Mountains in California shows how a north-facing slope (left) can be covered in white-blooming hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius), while the south-facing slope (right) is much less sparsely covered in a completely different plant. Noah Elhardt / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.5

By Mark Mancini

If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.

Read More Show Less
Flames from the Lake Fire burn on a hillside near a fire truck and other vehicles on Aug. 12, 2020 in Lake Hughes, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.

Read More Show Less
Although heat waves rarely get the attention that hurricanes do, they kill far more people per year in the U.S. and abroad. greenaperture / Getty Images

By Jeff Berardelli

Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020

If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.

Read More Show Less

A film by Felix Nuhr.

Thailand has a total population of 5,000 elephants. But of that number, 3,000 live in captivity, carrying tourists on their backs and offering photo opportunities made for social media.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Scientists have found a way to use bricks as batteries, meaning that buildings may one day be used to store and generate power. Public Domain Pictures

One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.

Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.

The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.

If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.

The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.

"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.

"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."