In this “cri de coeur about the Gulf’s environmental ruin” (New York Times), “Davis has written a beautiful homage to a neglected sea” (front page, New York Times Book Review).Hailed as a “nonfiction epic . . . in the tradition of Jared Diamond’s best-seller Collapse, and Simon Winchester’s Atlantic” (Dallas Morning News), Jack E. Davis’s The Gulf is “by turns informative, lyrical, inspiring and chilling for anyone who cares about the future of ‘America’s Sea’ ” (Wall Street Journal). Illuminating America’s political and economic relationship with the environment from the age of the conquistadors to the present, Davis demonstrates how the Gulf’s fruitful ecosystems and exceptional beauty empowered a growing nation. Filled with vivid, untold stories from the sportfish that launched Gulfside vacationing to Hollywood’s role in the country’s first offshore oil wells, this “vast and welltold story shows how we made the Gulf . . . [into] a ‘national sacrifice zone’ ” (Bill McKibben). The first and only study of its kind, The Gulf offers “a unique and illuminating history of the American Southern coast and sea as it should be written” (Edward O. Wilson).
Jack E. Davis is the author of the award-winning An Everglades Providence: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century. A professor of environmental history at the University of Florida, he grew up on the Gulf coast, and now lives in Florida and New Hampshire.
Donald Edward Davis discusses the degradation of the southern Appalachians on a number of levels, from the general effects of settlement and industry to the extinction of the American chestnut due to blight and logging in the early 1900s. This portrait of environmental destruction is echoed by the human struggle to survive in one of our nation's poorest areas. The farming, livestock raising, dam building, and pearl and logging industries that have gradually destroyed this region have also been the livelihood of the Appalachian people. The author explores the sometimes conflicting needs of humans and nature in the mountains while presenting impressive and comprehensive research on the increasingly threatened environment of the southern Appalachians.
Synthesizing the most recent and insightful studies on the region, United States West Coast portrays environmental change in the far western United States from the emergence of humans in the Pacific Northwest (about 12,000 years ago), to the rise of European colonial trade networks, to the era of industrialization and urbanization, to present day activism and public policy responses to environmental damage. By investigating how humans interact with their nonhuman surroundings across a specific expanse that encompasses all kinds of landscapes, cultures, and commercial enterprises, this insightful volume shows just how interdependent the relationship between people and their environment is.
Working forward from ancient times and ancient ecologies to the very recent past, Land of Sunshine is a fascinating exploration of the environmental history of greater Los Angeles. Rather than rehearsing a litany of errors or insults against nature, rather than decrying the lost opportunities of "roads not taken," these essays, by nineteen leading geologists, ecologists, and historians, instead consider the changing dynamics both of the city and of nature.
In the nineteenth century, for example, "density" was considered an evil, and reformers struggled mightily to move the working poor out to areas where better sanitation and flowers and parks "made life seem worth the living."
We now call that vision "sprawl," and we struggle just as much to bring middle-class people back into the core of American cities. There's nothing natural, or inevitable, about such turns of events. It's only by paying very close attention to the ways metropolitan nature has been constructed and construed that meaningful lessons can be drawn. History matters.
So here are the plants and animals of the Los Angeles basin, its rivers and watersheds. Here are the landscapes of fact and fantasy, the historical actors, events, and circumstances that have proved transformative over and over again. The result is a nuanced and rich portrait of Los Angeles that will serve planners, communities, and environmentalists as they look to the past for clues, if not blueprints, for enhancing the quality and viability of cities.
Beginning in his kayak in his home waters of eastern Long Island, Carl Safina's The View from Lazy Point takes us through the four seasons to the four points of the compass, from the high Arctic south to Antarctica, across the warm belly of the tropics from the Caribbean to the west Pacific, then home again. We meet Eskimos whose way of life is melting away, explore a secret global seed vault hidden above the Arctic Circle, investigate dilemmas facing foraging bears and breeding penguins, and sail to formerly devastated reefs that are resurrecting as fish graze the corals algae-free.
"Each time science tightens a coil in the slack of our understanding," Safina writes, "it elaborates its fundamental discovery: connection."
He shows how problems of the environment drive very real matters of human justice, well-being, and our prospects for peace.
In Safina's hands, nature's continuous renewal points toward our future. His lively stories grant new insights into how our world is changing, and what our response ought to be.