I came across this (soon to be released) book today. A more uplifting take on loving our fellow Earthlings, written for children and adults alike.
“Come here now, baby, let Grandmama Moo teach you a wise old thing or two.”
So says Maya the cow in “Wisdom,” the poem that opens “Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary” (Knopf, February 2010). As readers explore this book of poems for children (and adults, too!), they will meet not only the venerable and maternal Maya but also the chivalrous rooster Mayfly, the exuberant piglet J.D., the grateful sheep Hilda, and many other animals who live or have lived at Farm Sanctuary’s New York and California Shelters.
“I wanted to communicate the soulfulness of the [animals] so that children and their caretakers could relate to them as fellow sentient beings, with individual personalities, thoughts and feelings like their own,” says Maya Gottfried, who was inspired to write “Our Farm” after volunteering for Farm Sanctuary. Accompanied by the richly colored and detailed paintings of Robert Rahway Zakanitch, Gottfried’s poems vividly evoke the voices of pigs, goats, ducklings, chickens, and other farm animals, whom readers will want to revisit again and again.
Children and adults alike will be delighted by the humor, playfulness and
empathy employed by Gottfried and Zakanitch to bring the world of Farm Sanctuary to life on the pages of this book, and to gently convey the importance of having love and respect for our fellow creatures. “We’re all different, but we’re still related,” says the bantam chicken Gabriella of her flockmates,
“and in some ways
Everyone will fall in love with both the affectionate writing and irresistible animal illustrations found on the pages of “Our Farm.” As a classroom tool to inspire compassion, a gift for a special child in your life, or a keepsake of your own, this is one book you’ll definitely want to get your hands on.
“Our Farm” is coming soon! The official release date is February 9, but you can pre-order this beautiful book now. Farm Sanctuary Shop purchases support our lifesaving efforts, so help suffering farm animals by getting your copy of “Our Farm” through us today!
Eating Apes is an eloquent book about a disturbing secret: the looming extinction of humanity's closest relatives, the African great apes—chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas. Dale Peterson's impassioned exposé details how, with the unprecedented opening of African forests by European and Asian logging companies, the traditional consumption of wild animal meat in Central Africa has suddenly exploded in scope and impact, moving from what was recently a subsistence activity to an enormous and completely unsustainable commercial enterprise. Although the three African great apes account for only about one percent of the commercial bush meat trade, today's rate of slaughter could bring about their extinction in the next few decades. Supported by compelling color photographs by award-winning photographer Karl Ammann, Eating Apes documents the when, where, how, and why of this rapidly accelerating disaster.
Eating Apes persuasively argues that the American conservation media have failed to report the ongoing collapse of the ape population. In bringing the facts of this crisis and these impending extinctions into a single, accessible book, Peterson takes us one step closer to averting one of the most disturbing threats to our closest relatives.
Amazon Review - By Lynn Harnett
Stunning photography and concise, beguiling text communicate the "otherness" of African elephants to our awe and understanding in this gorgeous and absorbing oversize volume.
While the bulk of the book is photography and the pictures lead into the text at the back, readers really should read Peterson's words first, then go back and view the photographs in a new and richer light.
Although it's now widely known that elephants live in matriarchal family groups, that bulls are solitary, that they show affection and grief and communicate with each other over long distances, it was only 40 years ago that we didn't even know what elephants ate or how much.
Peterson covers elephant study from its beginnings in the 60s when Iain Douglas-Hamilton pioneered the field study of individuals, family groups and socialization, similar to the work Jane Goodall was doing with apes. Since then field researchers have viewed: bulls in musth (some very funny - and dangerous - stories about this condition, initially diagnosed as "an alarming malady"), the reunions of social groups, childcare networks, fear, sickness, and all the drama of family life, including the tragedy of poaching and slaughter.
Peterson describes the working of the elephants' bodies - their sensitive feet, their replaceable teeth, their formidable hide, their remarkable trunk. Reading Peterson's appreciation of the trunk, you will want one yourself. Its sense of smell is ten times more powerful than a bloodhound and it can pick up a coin off the ground. It's an arm, a snorkel, a suction tool for drinking or showering, a communication device, a digger, a scratcher, even a cane.
Peterson's eloquence is fueled with affection and enthusiasm and he concludes with the present day plight of elephants - poaching for ivory and meat.
Award-winning photographer Amman documents all these behaviors and more but you wouldn't know it without reading Peterson's text, as there are no captions. Amman's only explanation is a brief intro at the beginning and some pages of photographer's notes at the end.
Amman divides his pictures into categories focusing on aspects of elephant life and photographic beauty: Beginnings, Textures, Colors, Perspectives, Fragments, Portraits, Behaviors, Associations, Passages. The technical and artistic quality is superb, but even more they communicate affection, majesty and understanding.
Amman and Peterson (who also co-authored the acclaimed "Eating Apes") have produced a gorgeous, comprehensive homage to the strange and wonderful elephant.
Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years in the Life of an Elephant Family
Cynthia J. Moss (Author)
Amazon Review by D.J. Nardi
This is the Elephant book I've been waiting for! I love Elephants and have read several books about these magnificent animals. However, most books either focus on Elephants in human history (Elephant Destiny is a good book for this), photographs (such as Karl Ammann's recent Elephant Reflections), or the memoirs of conservation biologists who study Elephants (The Elephant's Secret Sense: The Hidden Life of the Wild Herds of Africa unfortunately fell into this category). Cynthia Moss' Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years in the Life of an Elephant Family is different - it is 100% about Elephants, their lives, their struggles, and personalities. Aside from some essential context about her research, Moss removes herself from the narrative and tells the story of the Elephant families in Amboseli National Park, Kenya.
While we know Elephants are intelligent and can communicate, we can't speak to them directly to learn about their lives. However, Cynthia Moss comes extremely close. She provides an account of Elephant life in the same way a sociologist might depict a lost human tribe. Moss gives each Elephant a name and describes his or her personality. At the beginning of the book, Moss includes a family tree of the Elephants in the book. Each chapter covers a separate topic ("Migration," "Mating," etc.). At the end of the chapter, Moss includes a list of the family members whom she discussed during that chapter so readers can follow who survived. By the end, the reader will come to know some Elephants particularly well, the "TC" and "TD" family, including Teresia and Slit Ear.
If Cynthia Moss is still writing on Elephants, I would love to see if she has any updates about the Amboseli Elephants. This particular book ends in the late 1980s, with a 1999 afterward. This is informative, but with increased tourism in Amboseli and global warming (which is melting the glaciers on Mt. Kilimanjaro) within the past decade, I worry that the Elephants will face future threats.
I've written hundreds of reviews for Amazon, and I don't think I've ever said this about a book, but I think Elephant Memories deserves 6 stars. It presents years of important scientific to the general public in an original, well-written, and light-hearted manner. Moss never dumbs down the science, but rather shows how it helps us understand these animals better.
If you like this book, you should definitely watch Echo and Other Elephants, a documentary hosted by David Attenborough and starring Cynthia Moss and her Elephants at Amboseli. Wildlife Wars: My Fight to Save Africa's Natural Treasures, a book by former Kenya Wildlife Services Director Richard Leaky, is also a good book to read since it discusses the Kenyan government's policies to protect Elephants and includes some of people Cynthia Moss worked with in Amboseli.
Amazon Review By Jedidiah Palosaari
There are some books where the superlative is simply insufficient. Edward Wilson writes with panache and vigor. He knows how to describe and keep the reader entertained. It was like I was reading fiction.
Wilson also writes with detail and accuracy. He knows his science. He knows the intricacy of ecology, and knows enough to know he can't know everything. This allows him to keep the mystery alive for the reader. I was continually astonished to see how he pulled in various aspects of Biology when telling a life story, and various sciences, to show how it All was inter-related. He would pull in constant relationships between different forms of life, and just when I thought he was done, he would go down a microscopic level. And then down another five levels. If is possible to be a savant within ecology, then this is it.
Wilson doesn't stop with good writing and excellent research. He tells us there's a problem. This is another The Jungle- only this time, there isn't much of a jungle left. Through out the book he makes clear that the planet is dying, and dying fast, and the causes of this death. Through the use of the ecological relationships, we see how an attack on one species can be an attack on thousands. Better authors are brave enough to tell us that not everything is okay.
The best authors tell us that there's a way to solve these problems. There are gloom and doom authors out there, teaching the world that everything will be destroyed, and the only thing to do now is get saved yourself. That's too little, and too easy, for Wilson. He doesn't make the situation worse than it is- his facts, studies, and research make it clear the situation is pretty bad. But it's not hopeless. He lays out how we can be changing things, and there's still time to change things. Not that it will be easy. But like an economic austerity program, sacrifices must be made, that we all might survive. To make it clear, this is a survivalist book. If you are hoping to see our species survive, then this book will assist in that. If you're okay with losing out on our currect ecological richness, with the disappearance of all the ecosystems you are familiar with, and the end of a species that can create a world wide web- but the survival of constant insect lifeforms- then there's no need to read any further.
The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth
By E. O. Wilson
Amazon Review By 'Wilderness'
When Charles Darwin published "The Origin of Species" he declared it to be "one long argument". Today, less than 150 years later, Edward O. Wilson explains that the one species omitted [except for one sentence] from the "argument" is devastating the life of the planet. In one long appeal to a fictional Baptist pastor, Wilson describes what is clear to all but a few dedicated die-hards - life on this planet is in deep trouble. The die-hards are firmly identified in the opening passages; Christians in the US who regard themselves as "biblical literalists". Such folk expect the Apocalypse soon and saving the environment is of little concern.
Wilson clearly knows his potential audience and addresses it. He understands the opinions his readers hold and addresses them in language familiar to them. "Biology" he contends, "now leads in reconstructing the human self-image". That means that biology can explain what is happening to the life around us and how we are dealing with it. He carefully allows the potential for a deity to have a role, but it isn't one dealing with the current situation. Because it is humanity stripping the rainforests, causing the oceans to warm and destroying life in them, or filling the atmosphere with chemicals it cannot absorb, it is up to people to take the steps necessary to halt these degradations.
In showing his "pastor" the interconnectivity of all life, the author utilises clear, undemanding prose. Whether one believes a god plays a role in this network is immaterial. People and their actions are unweaving that network. Species extinction is forever, and whatever biology can explain, it hasn't had the time or opportunity to assess the impact of what is occurring. The job, he says, is clearly too vast, and the relationships are too intricate. That, however, doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Nor does it mean that lack of knowledge renders the problem something we can dismiss. We ignore the result of our actions at our peril.
Going a step further in his analysis, Wilson notes the planet's rash of environmental "hotspots" that need immediate solutions addressed to them. He's even able to put a price on healing the afflicted areas. He proposes forms of "protective umbrellas" that can be applied to areas like the Amazon and Congolian basins and others. These saving mechanisms would require "one payment of about US$30 billion". That's about 15 weeks of current expenditure on Iraq's occupation at the latest rates. He further shows how the subsidies given the fishing industry in the US alone, if redirected to a programme of oceanic reserves, would allow fish stocks to recover. To ensure the survival of countless threatened species, it's a minimal expence. If humans can set themselves up as gods in destroying the environment, they can act creatively to preserve it.
Wilson's "letter" may seem a bit lengthy at 170 pages, but as "one long appeal" to his audience, it's not overmuch to take up. Take it up and read it. Then have your children read it - they are the ones confronting the future Wilson describes. The offer it to the pastor nearest you. Religious leaders have whole flocks who should hear what Wilson has to say. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
Amazon Review By Stephen A. Haines
Edward Wilson is America's, if not the world's, leading naturalist. Years of field work are applied in The Future of Life in a global tour of the world's natural resources. How are they used? What has been lost? What remains and is it sustainable with present rates of use? With broad vision, Wilson stresses our need to understand fully the biodiversity of our planet. Most importantly, that knowledge must include a realistic view of human impact on those resources. While many works of this genre sound tocsins of despair with little to offer in countering the threat of the "outbreak" of humanity on our planet, Wilson proposes a variety of realistic scenarios that may save our world and our own species. Survival will be obtained from a sound knowledge base, and the foundation for that insight starts here.
Wilson begins with an open letter to the patron saint of environment defenders, Henry David Thoreau. He offers a comparative view of today's Walden Pond with that of Thoreau's day. Wilson will use such comparisons for the remainder of the book. The issue is clear: humanity has done grave damage to its home over the millennia. The growth of human population, but more importantly, the usurpation of the biosphere for limited human purposes, threatens a world losing its ability to cope with the intrusion. Can this planet, with human help, be restored to biodiversity levels that will ensure its ongoing capacity to provide for us?
Wilson's writing skills readily match his talents as a researcher. Presenting sweeping ideas with an economy of words, he avoids vague assertions or the need for the reader to fill in information. With each stop of our global voyage in his company, he provides detailed information describing examples of human "erasure of entire ecosystems." At this pace, he informs us, we will soon require four more planets of our resource levels to sustain humanity's intended growth. In the classic tradition, he introduces a protagonist for continued economic growth debating an environmental defender. Both views can be accommodated, he assures us, but only if a population limiting bottleneck is achieved. What level of humanity can the planet endure? The numbers frighten, but the resolution, Wilson stresses, isn't inevitable.
Diversity, he argues, is the key. Even our agricultural crops can benefit. A mere hundred species are the foundation of our food supply, of which but twenty carry the load. Wilson counters this precarious situation by urging investigation of ten thousand species that could be utilized. Further, and this point will give many readers qualms, Wilson urges genetic engineering to apply desired traits between crop species. He urges these strong measures as a means of reducing the clearing of habitats to enlarge farming acreage. In conclusion, he stresses the application of ethical values in considering the environment. Each of us must make ourselves aware of our impact on our nest. If you are to survive, it may well rely on whether you read and act on the ideas in this book. Although other works on this topic are available, Wilson's stands above the others for clarity, scope and suggestions for survival. Are you, he asks, willing to add one penny to the cost of a cup of coffee to retain the world's natural reserves? It's the question confronting us all.
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
By William MDonough and Michael Braungart
Amazon Review by R. Hardy
I can't think of another book that so obviously practices what it preaches as _Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things_ (North Point Press) by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Books are usually printed on a fairly high grade of paper (compared to, say, that used in newspapers), paper which everyone knows comes from cutting down pretty and naturally useful trees. The paper is printed with inks that have heavy metals and other chemicals in them. You can recycle a book, but those chemicals get to be part of the mess, and are expensive to remove. Anyway, you don't really recycle it, you _down_cycle it (the authors' term), because the paper in it can only be bleached and chemically treated to turn it into a lower grade of paper, such as for newspapers. And newspapers can be turned into toilet paper, in further downcycling. _Cradle to Cradle_ is about breaking out of such "cycles" and into real cycles. It has smooth, bright white pages that are heavy, like the paper in the best books. They are not, however, paper in the usual sense, although you probably wouldn't notice the difference unless your attention was called to it. They are made of plastic resins and inorganic fillers. Although the pages are designed to last as long as any paper book, these pages can be recycled by conventional means to make more paper of equal quality. They might even be _up_cycled into resins of greater complexity and utility. The ink on them can be easily removed by a safe solvent bath, or washing with extremely hot water, and does not contain dangerous chemicals.
The authors, one an architect and one a chemist, created McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry in 1995, to consult with companies about designing sustaining products and factories. They have the ear of such companies as Ford and Nike, and their book is a primer on how they would like to see manufacturing work in the future to take part in natural cycles having little effect on the overall ecology of the earth. It is a rather thrilling little manifesto, by two obviously bright guys who don't let their optimism get in the way of bringing in real results. The idea is for products and processes not to be "less bad," but like ants or trees, to be positively good for the environment. "Waste is food" is the principle. Making products that can be composted, or can be used again without degrading them or the environment can be done, and it is no dream. Much of the book shows how the authors, as consultants, have put such principles into action.
It can be done. The words of the authors, clearly concerned about the future of the planet, are enthusiastic and convincing, and given the examples in this surprising book, it is clear that we will be seeing more design of products and processes that are incorporated into natural cycles. Given the example of the book itself, a good looking product on its own, the advantages are clear. And if that isn't enough, the book can be read without risk in the bathtub, as it is entirely waterproof.
The Must Read Solutions BooK>>> "Our Choice: A Plan To Solve The Climate Crisis" - By Al Gore
November 1, 2009 - Climate Progress
The long-awaited sequel to An Inconvenient Truth comes out Tuesday. If you want a preview, Gore and the book are featured in an excellent Newsweek cover story, The Thinking Man’s Thinking Man.
In September, Nature Reports Climate Change asked me (and several others) to suggest three books to read ahead of the Copenhagen conference. Of those, they then asked me to review Gore’s new book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis:
"When your last work led to an Oscar and Nobel Prize, anticipation is high on the sequel. And former US Vice President Al Gore’s new book delivers.Our Choice, due out in November, is a wonderfully readable treatise on climate solutions. WhereasAn Inconvenient Truthframed the crisis that climate negotiations are tackling, this followup spells out what needs to be done."
"Based on 30 of Gore’s‘Solutions Summits’as well as one-on-one discussions with leading experts across multiple disciplines, the book aims, in Gore’s words, “to gather in one place all of the most effective solutions that are available now”. Gore naturally focuses on energy, the source of most anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and discusses many under-appreciated strategies such as concentrated solar thermal power and co-generation. He also devotes a full chapter to soil, a major carbon sink that is gradually degrading. Farming strategies for restoring soil carbon are described, including biochar, a porous charcoal that can potentially enhance the soil sink while providing a source of low-carbon power. And like its PowerPoint-based predecessor, Our Choice is replete with lush photos and simple but powerful charts. This [is] a must-read book for those who want a primer on all the key solutions countries will be considering at Copenhagen."
Joel Sartore’s haunting photographs in “Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species” are a roll call of North America’s most endangered wildlife, and they present an urgent call to action in the fight to save plants and animals from extinction.
January 21, 2010
By Joel Sartore
These photographs and the following text are an excerpt from Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species by Joel Sartore (National Geographic Focal Point, available March 16, 2010). Sartore has been a wildlife photojournalist at National Geographic for more than two decades. Rare is Sartore’s four-year investigation into the Endangered Species Act and the creatures it exists to protect. Listen to Joel discuss the book on MOTHER EARTH NEWS Radio.
They say the true measure of a person, or of society, is how we treat the least among us.
Do we choose to save things that may contribute nothing to our bottom line?
If money is all that matters, then we’re headed for a very poor world indeed. Can you imagine a planet without wolves? Without frogs? Without pollinating insects?
Of course, the elephant in the room is human overpopulation. We’re nearing 7 billion people now, and the population continues to expand exponentially. As human culture overtakes the planet, other living things have less room and are pushed to extinction. It’s as simple as that.
So wouldn’t it be great to begin a national dialogue now about the importance of saving the wild places that remain and the species that live there?
To do this, nature must become more than just a faint notion to the masses, something that we like in the abstract but consider irrelevant to our daily lives.
We must realize that there’s more to life than the price at the pump and what’s on TV.
Indeed, there’s nothing more important than what’s going on with the rest of creation. Healthy forests, marshes and prairies keep our air and water clean. So when we save biodiversity, we’re actually saving ourselves.