Exploring one of the greatest potential contributors to climate change—thawing permafrost—and the anxiety of extinction on an increasingly hostile planet
Climate scientists point to permafrost as a “ticking time bomb” for the planet, and from the Arctic, apocalyptic narratives proliferate on the devastating effects permafrost thaw poses to human survival. In Earth, Ice, Bone, Blood, Charlotte Wrigley considers how permafrost—and its disappearance—redefines extinction to be a lack of continuity, both material and social, and something that affects not only life on earth but nonlife, too.
Earth, Ice, Bone, Blood approaches the topic of thawing permafrost and the wild new economies and mitigation strategies forming in the far north through a study of the Sakha Republic, Russia’s largest region, and its capital city Yakutsk, which is the coldest city in the world and built on permafrost. Wrigley examines people who are creating commerce out of thawing permafrost, including scientists wishing to recreate the prehistoric “Mammoth steppe” ecosystem by eventually rewilding resurrected woolly mammoths, Indigenous people who forage the tundra for exposed mammoth bodies to sell their tusks, and government officials hoping to keep their city standing as the ground collapses under it. Warming begets thawing begets economic activity— and as a result, permafrost becomes discontinuous, both as land and as a social category, in ways that have implications for the entire planet. Discontinuity, Wrigley shows, eventually evolves into extinction.
Offering a new way of defining extinction through the concept of “discontinuity,” Earth, Ice, Bone, Blood presents a meditative and story-focused engagement with permafrost as more than just frozen ground.
In Earth in Mind, noted environmental educator David W. Orr focuses not on problems in education, but on the problem of education. Much of what has gone wrong with the world, he argues, is the result of inadequate and misdirected education that:
The author begins by establishing the grounds for a debate about education and knowledge. He describes the problems of education from an ecological perspective, and challenges the "terrible simplifiers" who wish to substitute numbers for values. He follows with a presentation of principles for re-creating education in the broadest way possible, discussing topics such as biophilia, the disciplinary structure of knowledge, the architecture of educational buildings, and the idea of ecological intelligence. Orr concludes by presenting concrete proposals for reorganizing the curriculum to draw out our affinity for life.
So writes Chris Maser in this compelling study of three interactive spheres of the ecosystem: atmosphere (air), litho-hydrosphere (rock that comprises the restless continents and the water that surrounds them), and biosphere (all life sandwiched in between).
Rich in detail and insightful analogies, Earth in Our Care addresses key issues including land-use policies, ecological restoration, forest management, local living, and sustainability thinking. Exploring our interconnectedness with the Earth, Maser examines today's problems and, more importantly, provides solutions for the future.
"As I write this, I am sitting in a cabin at Cedar Point Biological Station in southwestern Nebraska.... The glorious elemental mixture of earth, water, and sky around me is the home of nearly three hundred species of birds, and comprises one of my favorite places in the world. Here no radio stations blare out the most recent results of meaningless sports events ... no traffic noises confound the senses. Instead the wind is the unquestioned dominating summer influence. The prairie grasses bend willingly and gracefully before it, and the leaves of the cottonwood trees convert its breezes into soft music."
Paul Johnsgard is one of America's most prominent ornithologists and a world authority on waterfowl behavior. In these popularly written, often lyrical essays, he describes some of his most fascinating encounters with birds, from watching the annual mating displays of prairie-chickens on a hilltop in Pawnee County, Nebraska, to attempting to solve some of the mysteries surrounding Australia's nearly flightless musk duck.
Reflecting his worldwide interests and travels, the birds Johnsgard describes inhabit many parts of the globe. Grouping the birds by the element they frequent most—earth, water, or sky—he weaves a wealth of accurate natural history into personal stories drawn from a lifetime of avian observation. And, as a bonus, Johnsgard's lovely pen-and-ink drawings illustrate each species he describes.
As our economic and natural systems continue on their collision course, Bruce Jennings asks whether we have the political capacity to avoid large-scale environmental disaster. Can liberal democracy, he wonders, respond in time to ecological challenges that require dramatic changes in the way we approach the natural world? Must a more effective governance be less democratic and more autocratic? Or can a new form of grassroots ecological democracy save us from ourselves and the false promises of material consumption run amok?
Ecological Governance is an ethicist’s reckoning with how our political culture, broadly construed, must change in response to climate change. Jennings argues that during the Anthropocene era a social contract of consumption has been forged. Under it people have given political and economic control to elites in exchange for the promise of economic growth. In a new political economy of the future, the terms of the consumptive contract cannot be met without severe ecological damage. We will need a new guiding vision and collective aim, a new social contract of ecological trusteeship and responsibility.
For centuries it was believed that all matter was composed of four elements: earth, air, water, and fire in promiscuous combination, bound by love and pulled apart by strife. Elemental theory offered a mode of understanding materiality that did not center the cosmos around the human. Outgrown as a science, the elements are now what we build our houses against. Their renunciation has fostered only estrangement from the material world.
The essays collected in Elemental Ecocriticism show how elemental materiality precipitates new engagements with the ecological. Here the classical elements reveal the vitality of supposedly inert substances (mud, water, earth, air), chemical processes (fire), and natural phenomena, as well as the promise in the abandoned and the unreal (ether, phlogiston, spontaneous generation).
Decentering the human, this volume provides important correctives to the idea of the material world as mere resource. Three response essays meditate on the connections of this collaborative project to the framing of modern-day ecological concerns. A renewed intimacy with the elemental holds the potential of a more dynamic environmental ethics and the possibility of a reinvigorated materialism.
Environmental Restoration is the product of a ground-breaking conference on ecological restoration, held in January 1988 at the University of California, Berkeley. It offers an overview from the nation's leading experts of the most current techniques of restoration, including examples of the complex and subtle biological interactions we must understand to ensure success.
Chapters cover restoration of agricultural lands, barrens, coastal ecosystems, prairies, and range lands. Additional sections address temperate forests and watersheds, mined lands, soil bioengineering, urban issues including waste treatment and solid, toxic, and radioactive waste management. The book also covers restoration of aquatic systems, includes chapters on strategic planning and land acquisition, and provides examples of successful projects.
Every River on Earth: Writing from Appalachian Ohio includes some of the best regional poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction from forty contemporary writers, both established and up-and-coming. The wide range of material from authors such as David Baker, Don Bogen, Michelle Burke, Richard Hague, Donald Ray Pollock, and others, offers the reader a window into daily life in the region. The people, the landscape, the struggles, and the deepest undercurrents of what it means to be from and of a place are revealed in these original, deeply moving, and sometimes shocking pieces.
The book is divided into four sections: Family & Folks, The Land, The Grind, and Home & Away, each of which explores a different aspect of the place that these authors call home. The sections work together beautifully to capture what it means to live, to love, and to die in this particular slice of Appalachia. The writing is accessible and often emotionally raw; Every River on Earth invites all types of readers and conveys a profound appreciation of the region’s character.
The authors also offer personal statements about their writing, allowing the reader an intimate insight into their processes, aesthetics, and inspirations. What is it to be an Appalachian? What is it to be an Appalachian in Ohio? This book vividly paints that picture.
Every River on Earth
David Lee Garrison
I look out the window and see
through the neighbor’s window
to an Amish buggy
where three children are peeping back,
and in their eyes I see the darkness
of plowed earth hiding seed.
Wind pokes the land in winter,
trying to waken it,
and in the melting snow
I see rainbows and in them
every river on earth. I see all the way
to the ocean, where sand and stones
embrace each falling wave
and reach back to gather it in.
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