Outstanding Academic Titles 2020: Earth Day

Enjoy these Outstanding Academic Titles 2020, book reviews about environmentalism and conservation for college libraries in honor of Earth Day.

This week’s sneak peek from our 2020 Outstanding Academic Titles list: award-winning titles about environmentalism and conservation for college libraries in honor of Earth Day.

1. The citizen’s guide to climate success: overcoming myths that hinder progress
Jaccard, Mark. Cambridge, 2020

Author Jaccard (Simon Fraser Univ.) argues that societies are organized into two groups: a majority that avoids talking about climate change and those who think strategically and are looking for ways to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) production. He adds that although the current situation is severe, several ongoing developments, if continued, could help people reach a point of accelerating global decarbonization. One is that GHG impacts are intensifying, making it increasingly difficult for fossil fuel (FF) beneficiaries to mislead people about climate problems. Another is the falling cost of key low-emission alternatives. Electricity from wind and solar sources costs much less than just a decade ago, and costs are still falling. Likewise, electric vehicles are now rapidly penetrating the market, allowing leading authorities to plan the complete phaseout of gasoline vehicle sales within a decade. Third is the growing recognition in developing countries of the co-benefits of deep decarbonization, especially in the electricity and transportation sectors. Offering a number of examples and an explanation for each area, the book logically concludes that FFs should be removed from electricity and transportation sectors in developed countries and that this transformation must be extended to developing countries via low-cost clean alternatives.
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2. Historical dictionary of the Green movement
Miranda Schreurs and Elim Papadakis Rowman & Littlefield, 2020

Schreurs (Technical Univ. of Munich, Germany) and Papadakis (Australian National Univ.) have updated and extensively reworked their respected reference work with this third edition, reflecting the increased environmental concern and urgency with 130 more pages. The work begins with a chronology that becomes increasingly complex with each passing year. An introductory environmental essay tracks the worldwide expansion of the Green political movement and includes descriptions of the preeminent Green movement literature and its place within the field of environmental studies. These sources offer students comprehensive explanations of the development of political thought and theories within the movement. The A-Z section covers subject categories within the discipline and includes entries on the Green movement and related politics in individual countries. The expanded bibliography is a working tool with extensive informative listings, and it even includes categories for professional journals, think tanks, databases, portals, websites, educational resources, news sources, NGOs, environmental movements, Green parties, global conferences, international agreements, and documentaries. View on Amazon

3. Beyond global warming: how numerical models revealed the secrets of climate change
by Syukuro Manabe and Anthony J. Broccoli Princeton, 2020

Manabe (Princeton Univ.) and Broccoli (Rutgers Univ.) here describe the evolution of complexity in numerical global climate models and changes in climate sensitivity through time, tracing the latter from the earliest estimates of Arrhenius to those derived using the coupled earth system models of today. The authors are experts in climate modeling and climate dynamics who have enjoyed long and distinguished careers. Their book provides qualitative description of climate models rather than rigorous description of their mathematical basis, but it clearly documents the increasing sophistication of the questions they are addressing and the answers being derived, doing so in a manner non-specialists can readily digest. It thus sits at the intersection of the history and philosophy of science and more technically advanced primers of climate modeling such as Climate Change and Climate Modeling by J. David Neelin (CH, Aug’11, 48-6915). It lacks the interactive exercises that make A Climate Modelling Primer by K. McGuffie and A. Henderson-Sellers (2nd ed., CH, Jan’98, 35-2776) such a great teaching text, but is highly engaging and well written.
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4. Tree story: the history of the world written in rings
Trouet, Valerie. Johns Hopkins, 2020

This work portrays an interesting method of looking at history as revealed by the science of dendrochronology, the study of growth rings in trees. The text unfolds as a narrative, based on the author’s own personal history. Trouet (Univ. of Arizona) describes her career in the scholarly world, from her beginnings as a young student in Belgium up to her success as a US academic, where she is currently a faculty member of the renowned Tree-Ring Lab in Arizona, literally the home of her chosen discipline. Trouet’s research has taken her to many countries on various continents to examine patterns in the trees found in each environment and explore what their rings reveal about the climactic and biological changes that may have taken place there in the remote past. Often Trouet has been accompanied by students/colleagues, and her account of trips to locales ranging from deserts to high mountain ranges is both substantive and entertaining. The rings themselves can play their own role in geopolitics, as shown by Trouet’s observations on climate change and the debate over a perceived dismal future.
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5The deep: the hidden wonders of our oceans and how we can protect them
Rogers, Alex. Wildfire, 2019

This is an interesting work combining autobiographical reflections that explain the author’s path to his chosen career in marine biology and deep ocean ecology, with detailed observations from his experiences during a particular deep-sea dive. Rogers (formerly, Univ. of Oxford) became interested in the oceans as a child while visiting with his grandfather, a veteran fisherman. His career has often involved him in undersea diving, sometimes carried out in submersibles. Rogers also has acted in an advisory capacity to the popular BBC documentary Blue Planet II, and this text, too, recalls some of his experiences in creating that series. Rogers’ descriptions of exploring the ocean floor are vivid and supported by photographic illustrations. He points out evidence of overfishing and subsequent recovery, noting previous damage to the ocean floor from the use of heavy dragging trawlers. The orange roughy serves as an example of a once popular food fish whose population crashed but is now slowly returning, the fishermen having moved on to other species. Additionally Rogers describes the effects of climate change on coastal cities, anticipating their subsidence and its likely repercussions for human populations.
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