Books To Read To Save The World

by James Wallace Harris, Saturday, July 15, 2015

  • We will destroy civilization before the end of the century.
  • Denying science is denying reality.
  • Denying evidence for personal gain is treason to our species
  • Greed is destroying all the species on this planet including our own.
  • Self-interest is leading to species suicide.
  • We have the knowledge and technology to solve our problems.
  • We must change the way we live to save the planet.
  • Human nature is too stupid to survive free market capitalism.
  • We will not save the world just by buying LED light bulbs and driving electric cars.
  • Reading books will not save the Earth, but it will help understand the complexity of the problems we face.
  • Reading these books can be depressing.
  • Not reading these books only makes our problems worse.
  • Read and recommend books that help us understand the reality of your actions.
  • We can only divert the collapse of civilization if we find a new sustainable way to live.
  • Read ten books before deciding if I’m wrong.
  • Read another ten to begin to find hope.

If you know of other good books, recommend them in the comment section.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? by Alan Weisman

Learning to Die in the Anthropocene by Roy Scranton

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Robert J. Gordon

Energy and Civilization: A History by Vaclav Smil

How Will Capitalism End? by Wolfgang Streeck

EarthEd: Rethinking Education on a Changing Planet by The Worldwatch Institute

Climate of Hope by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope

The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea by Jack E. Davis

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan

Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild

White Trash: The 400-Year Untol History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisis Coaste

Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein

Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few by Robert B. Reich

Dark Money by Jane Mayer

Getting to Green: Saving Nature – A Bipartisan Solution by Frederic C. Rich

The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World by Paul Gilding

Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean

Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life by David R. Montgomery

The Carbon Farming Solution by Eric Toensmeier

Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans De Waal

Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by Edward O. Wilson

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein

The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea by Callum Roberts

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization by Steven Solomon

Climate Change and the Health of Nations by Anthony J. McMichael

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by by Jared Diamond

JWH

Who Are the Abolitionists of Our Times?

What peculiar institutions do we embrace today that modern abolitionists see as evil?

Humans are an evolving social species and in every era some people see further than others.  They understand that common assumptions are wrong.  19th century abolitionists could see that slavery was a vile institution where most were blind to its cruelty.  They wanted to abolish a long held practice that other people embraced dearly.  This brought about the war of America against itself that was so violent that no other enemy has ever come close to hurting us so much.  And even though the war came to an end in 1865 some people are still fighting it today.  It’s very hard for people to change.

What I ask:  What evil do we embrace that is invisible to the society at large that a few people rightly want to abolish today?

The list could be quite long and it might take a century or two before the issues become obvious to everyone.  Evil is not invisible.  Evil doesn’t take a century of social evolution to see.  Evil is ignored.  Everyone in the 19th century should have seen that slavery was evil.  Southern states embraced slavery because it benefitted them economically.  They had to rationalize the practice.  The framers of the Constitution had to carefully dance around the issue in words.  Our forefathers accepted a level of cruelty in life that we can’t rationalize, but instead of feeling enlighten, we have to ask:  What cruelty do we rationalize so easily?  What vile practices do we embrace because we don’t want to see its evil because it profits us?

The first thing that comes to mind are animals.  Factory farms are nightmares of animal cruelty that slaughter billions of beings each year.  We’re also destroying animal habitats worldwide and causing extinctions only slightly slower than mass extinction events.  Given our trends, we’ll start surpassing some of those events soon.

The second thing that comes to mind is how we’re destroying the environment for future generations.  A century from now the the people of the world will hate us far worse than we ever hated slavers, colonialists, Nazis, Communists, terrorists, serial killers or child molesters.  Our excesses will make us the worst of the worst.

Most people today if confronted will go, “Huh, not me, I’m not doing anything wrong.”

And you can’t claim ignorance because we do have our own abolitionists.  They are out there.  They are telling us what’s wrong.  We’re just not listening.

JWH – 2/5/12

Going Paperless 5

Over at Discover Magazine they have an article “How Big Is Discover’s Carbon Footprint?” that is a perfect justification for going paperless.  At the end of the essay they campaign for the reader to recycle her issue of Discover Magazine, but I can’t help but wonder why they aren’t promoting electronic editions of their magazine.  Sure, if you read the paper copy, do recycle it, but also consider switching to a paperless solution.  Please read the article and try and imagine the impact that thousands upon thousands of magazines produced around the world has on the Earth.

Now that we have so many alternatives to paper I can’t help and wonder if the print publishing industry isn’t unethical.  The linked article above does give an excellent picture of what goes into producing a magazine.  I am currently a subscriber, but I plan on not renewing my subscription.  Don’t get me wrong, Discover is a fantastic science magazine.  I don’t want it to go out of business – in fact, I wished it was many magnitudes more successful because it provides valuable knowledge about our changing world.

Like I have pointed out, there are many ways to read a magazine other than by holding a paper copy in your hands.  I discovered and read this article through an RSS feed I have for the magazine.  I hope the publishers make plenty of money off the web edition because it easy and free to read.  If there was a Zinio or Kindle edition I’d consider them too, or even an audio edition from Audible.com. 

Zinio is an excellent way to read a magazine on your computer and have it look exactly like the paper copy.  On my twenty-two inch Samsung 2253bw LCD monitor, the standard magazine requires no horizontal or vertical scrolling to view a two page spread.  If I hold a paper magazine up to my monitor, it fits within the screen area, so the Zinio reader is perfect for the modern LCD screen.

What I would really like from Discover Magazine, or any other magazine for that matter, is a service rather than paper.  Publishers should offer two methods of delivery:  the free web based system paid for through advertising and a pay-for subscription service with extras.  If I paid extra I’d want easy to read electronic editions, full access to all the back issues, freedom from online ads but get to see the original print ads, the right to email full-text articles to friends, and other imaginative marketing bells and whistles.

I have to say though, the free RSS feed is a pretty groovy way to read Discover Magazine – I just need to figure out a way to put a LCD next to the porcelain seat in the smallest room of the house and I’d really wouldn’t ever need a paper copy.

Jim