Outstanding Academic Titles 2023: Earth Science & Environmental Studies

This week we highlight, Outstanding Academic Titles from the past year pertaining to Earth Science & Environmental Studies.

Enjoy these five selections from the Choice Reviews 2023 Outstanding Academic Titles list. This week we highlight, Outstanding Academic Titles from the past year pertaining to Earth Science & Environmental Studies. A hearty congratulations to the winning authors, editors and publishers!

1. Climate future: averting and adapting to climate change
Pindyck, Robert S. Oxford, 2022

Climate change is a topic of conversation across all sectors of society, and intense discussions about its potential impact on society in the future emerge frequently. Climate change will entail not only a physical change in the environment but also a sociological change in how people view food, consume energy, and build housing in the future. Pindyck (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) describes in detail the impact of changing carbon dioxide levels on Earth’s temperature and why greenhouse gases have this effect on the environment. The premise of his argument is to examine what policies at the national and international levels could avert the temperature increase and what potential strategies exist for adapting to the changing climate. Pindyck clearly shows that no single policy or strategy will change the climate trajectory and that a comprehensive approach across all sectors of the economy that includes reducing emissions and energy demand, adopting conservation practices that reduce energy demand, and utilizing different forms of energy is required. These are not easy solutions to envision let alone implement; however, understanding how the components link to one another is an initial step toward discussing and evaluating potentially helpful policies and strategies. View on Amazon


2. Water always wins: thriving in an age of drought and deluge
Gies, Erica. Chicago, 2022

Gies, an independent science journalist, argues that we humans have disrupted water’s flows through rivers and coastal lands as well as its repose in aquifers and wetlands. As climate change intensifies, we can mitigate water’s impact only by respecting its natural habits and habitats. In her introduction, the author calls for a slow water movement—comparable to the slow food movement—that emphasizes local people, traditional methods, and a conservationist land ethic. In the first chapter, Gies describes how watery ecosystems support biodiversity, absorb carbon emissions, and minimize extreme drought and flood. Then, taking the reader on a global tour ranging from India to Mississippi, Kenya to the Netherlands, and Peru to China, she visits sites where experts from various disciplines—hydrologists, biologists, anthropologists, urban planners—are implementing slow water solutions by restoring ecosystems and reviving ancient water management techniques. Sometimes, Gies observes, the best solution is human retreat from lands threatened by droughts and floods because, as the title declares, “water always wins.” Although the author’s tendency to anthropomorphize water may irritate some readers, her diverse, research-based examples should prompt consideration of slow water solutions. View on Amazon


3. The great displacement: climate change and the next American migration
Bittle, Jake. Simon & Schuster, 2023

This is a cautionary tale of epic proportions. As the subtitle makes clear, the text is about climate change and its potential to cause mass migration in the US. Although it is a disaster book, it is also a book of hope. Weaving together stories of tragedy, loss, and devastation, climate and energy journalist Bittle offers a desperate plea for reducing carbon emissions, creating reform policies, investing in post-disaster aid, and, above all, for everyone to take responsibility for climate change. While climate change is a global problem, Bittle focuses his text on a selection of people and places located in the US, specifically in the states of Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Thus, the book is an illustration of how to think globally and act locally, an imperative that ought to be picked up throughout the globe, and not just in book form. By highlighting the impact on specific people and places, Bittle makes the abstract aspect of climate change more concrete and accessible. This is no easy task, and Bittle should be commended for treating such an important and pressing issue in a digestible way. The book is very well researched and also very well written. As such, it deserves a wide audience. View on Amazon


4. The octopus in the parking garage: a call for climate resilience
Verchick, Robert R. M. Columbia, 2023

Many readers are interested in absorbing more information about the issue of climate change—quite possibly the most significant challenge facing the world today. For those readers particularly interested in climate change adaptation and resiliency, Verchik’s The Octopus in the Parking Garage is just the ticket. This accessible volume incorporates great details for undergraduates interested in environmental policy and practitioners who want to dig into resiliency. Verchick (Loyola Univ. New Orleans; Tulane Univ.) challenges readers to think about the implications of climate change in the US and abroad and the mechanisms by which we might struggle to limit its impact on human communities. His wide-ranging coverage of resiliency and climate change serves to inform readers about impacts, policy options, and political commitments. His focus on the power grid is engaging, on the lowlands of Louisiana edifying, on wildfires enlightening, and on oceans deeply felt. Finally, his discussion of creating a climate relocation program is both bold and saddening—bold because it would mean doing what we should to protect communities; saddening because we lack the political will. Resiliency is necessary for a future with a changing climate, and reading Verchick’s book can help readers see this more clearly. View on Amazon.


5Environmentalism and contemporary heterotopia: novel encounters with waste Bowers, Tom. Lexington Books, 2022

Bowers (Northern Kentucky Univ.) explores the American relationship to industrial waste, arguing for a different conversation around environmental advocacy and awareness—one in which contemporary heterotopia intertwines essential goods with dirty matter requiring people to respond responsibly with ecological and ethical care. Bowers describes case studies of dirty matter to illustrate his argument. For example, the Weldon Spring Site in suburban St. Louis, MO, was open to the public after being a restricted area that produced TNT and uranium for the US military. This same site is now a recreational and cultural heritage space that features birdwatching, trails, and native plant species for visitors. Bowers also discusses the ethics of agency with respect to industrial waste, using the village of DePue, IL, as an example and examining its history of contaminated water. Rather than professing an idealistic view of how people should treat the environment, Bowers wants readers to imagine how to creatively and responsibly engage with how to work with industrial waste materials, inasmuch as they are regrettably here to stay. View on Amazon.


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