10 books for Earth Day 2016

10 books for Earth Day 2016

Today is the 46th annual Earth Day, recognized in nearly 200 countries.

Founded in part in response to the Santa Barbara oil spill, it helped popularize a movement which later resulted in a variety of efforts to protect the global environment.

Books can (and have) uniquely influence and inform people about these issues.

Many environmental issues can be simultaneously too big and too small to be experienced in our daily lives. Too small because they may be very localized, or below our levels of awareness. How many bees live in your neighborhood? Is it as many as it was a decade ago? You aren’t likely to know…the activity of bees doesn’t impact your commute to work. A book can allow you to bring into focus lives and processes outside your own.

I’ve always been aware of animals. My family has made fun of our travel pictures. When I was a child, we traveled to some pretty exotic places. My parents thought that was important…that we see different cultures and environments, and consequently, our family resources had that as a priority. We might go to a city with a thousand years of history, and I would come back with a picture of…a lizard and a pigeon. 😉 I didn’t even take many photographs of my family, just animals who were likely ignored by the people who lived there.

Wherever we went, we would go to the zoo. I remember a particular orang in a Japanese zoo. This orang was stacking rocks carefully…several little piles of them. Tourists were fascinated, leaning over the fence to look. The orange would cast sidelong glances at them. I noticed that the people who appeared to be regulars were standing back a few meters (maybe ten feet) from the fence, so I suspected something was up. All at once, the orang scooped up a pile of rocks and threw them at the crowd! Then the next pile, and the next, and the next! No one was hurt, and the regulars had a good laugh about it.  This was obviously a regular activity.

Back at home, my proudest achievement (outside of family) was hand-taming a wild scrub jay. Scrub jays are smart and brave, but it still took months. Initially, the bird would hop towards my offering (a tiny bit of bread), then hop away. Once it would take the bread, I moved the bread closer until it was on my hand. Eventually, I could literally open the door to my apartment and whistle a special tune. The bird would fly in from across the street…into the apartment and land on my hand. It would sit on the bar on my typewriter which was designed to hold the paper flat.

Most movingly, I hadn’t seen the bird for a while…and then it showed up outside my apartment door (which I would commonly leave open…it opened into an inner courtyard. The bird had a baby! The bird I knew swept the baby into the apartment with a wing (“Here, darling, this is where you get food.”). That didn’t go all that well. Understandably, the baby panicked. No one was hurt, and I have always been grateful to the parent bird for that.

Even today, I take pictures of animals at work or on walks at the weekend. We have a “wall” (a social site for comments and pictures) at work, designed to promote fitness, and I post them there. Here’s one from last week at our favorite dog park, Point Isabel in Richmond, California:

Reflected Egret

Reflected Egret

I see some lizards regularly at work…they sun themselves along the path to my car in the parking lot. I can tell them apart, and have named a few. The first one I recognized,  I called “Taylor” (as in “Liz(ard) Taylor”). I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Taylor on successive years. When another one appeared, that one was naturally “Burton”. A third? “Fischer” (as in Eddie Fischer). My Significant Other asked me if I was going to name lizards after all of Elizabeth Taylor’s spouses…I said that there weren’t that many lizards. 😉

Taylor and Burton

Taylor (foreground) and Burton

In another area, there was first another lizard (these are Western fence lizards, I believe). That one is “Morrison” (as in Jim Morrison…”The Lizard King”). When I saw a second with Morrison, that one became (Janis) “Joplin”.

We are vegetarians, we don’t use leather, we recycle…and we read e-books. 😉

Why is the last one Earth Day friendly?

I’ve seen analyses about e-books versus p-books (paperbooks) in terms of ecological impact. In some cases, the process of making paper for books can use a lot of mercury. Electronics, of course, aren’t usually ecologically friendly when they die, but Amazon does have a recycling program.

Amazon’s recycle your device page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit by shopping*)

Generating electricity (needed to charge our Kindles) can be challenging, although we don’t need to do that as often as we used to have to do.

However, driving (and sometimes flying) the physical books around may have the biggest impact. From the publisher to a warehouse, from the warehouse either directly to you (if from Amazon or another e-tailer) or to a store, that is generally done with traditional vehicles.

Actually, the biggest factor is the human one. 😉 People can make choices, and that’s where books like the below come into the picture.

* Silent Spring by Rachel Carson…this isn’t the only Carson book in the Kindle store, and there is at least one book intended to refute Silent Spring
* A Sand County Almanac: With Other Essays on Conservation from Round River by Aldo Leopold
* The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
* The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Ranchers Are Tending the Soil to Reverse Global Warming by Kristin Ohlson
* Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (Edward Abbey Series Book 1) by Edward Abbey
* Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
* Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition by Marc Reisner
* Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey by Jane Goodall
* John Muir: Nature Writings (Library of America) by John Muir
* The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

That’s ten! There are many others, of course. If you would like to suggest others to me and my readers, feel free to comment on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.



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