Books and Articles

Ed. Feldman, Mitchell, MD and Christensen, John, PhD. Behavioral Medicine: A Guide for Clinical Practice. 4th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2014.
 This excellent book has a thoughtful chapter by Christensen, titled “Environment, Health, and Behavior” pp. 76-85. It speaks to many of the issues and challenges alluded to in the letter. The two simple graphs on pp. 80 and 81 eloquently say it all in terms of the problem. Note also “The Precautionary Principle” section on p. 84, which gives important guidance for how we might act wisely now. For those of you interested in communication in the healing arts, the entire book is a gem.

Hoggan, James with Littlemore, Richard. Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming. Vancouver BC Canada: Greystone Books, 2009.
Hoggan documents many examples of misinformation and cover-up marketing by the fossil fuel companies. (To this day look at fossil fuel marketing. They make it APPEAR that they are the most environmental corporations on this earth!). He also explains the insidious ways in which the media’s aim to present “both sides,” “a balanced view,” (on the surface an important value) has led to much confusion by the public. Despite the fact that the majority of bona fide climate scientists have acknowledged the reality of human-caused climate change for years (current percentage 97% according to the AAAS), nevertheless the media kept looking for balance. They, of course, have found many scientists (not climate scientists), virtually all of whom have been receiving payment from fossil fuel companies or connected institutions, who are more than happy to offer whatever the fossil fuel companies want them to say.

Here are the last two paragraphs in his book: “There can be a good future if we make it so. But if we stand about, if we allow energy-industry flunkies to control the conversation—or even if we just let it ride, cynically accepting that politics is inherently corrupt and that nothing we do can make a difference—we will all have time to regret the passing of a beautiful and sustainable world.

So please, be bold. Be courageous. Be positive. Act and demand action. This, for our sake and for the sake of all those who follow, is a fight that we can and must win. For this bears repeating: the world is worth saving.” P.235

Klein, Grady and Bauman, Yoram (the one and only stand-up economist). The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change. WA DC: Island Press, 2014.
If you’d like your Climate Change information with a generous dose of humor, this is your book!

Klein, Naomi. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014.
I’m not entirely sure that I agree with the degree of negative emphasis she puts on capitalism. Some other forms of government have been profligate with carbon also. I think if I understand her that her biggest concern is unbridled capitalism run by huge entirely profit oriented corporations. That concerns me, too. The book itself is extraordinary in its scope, depth and research. Read the New York Times review here.

Kolbert, Elizabeth. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2014.
Most important, Kolbert delivers a compelling call to action. “Right now,” she writes, “we are deciding, without quite meaning to, which evolutionary pathways will remain open and which will forever be closed. No other creature has ever managed this, and it will, unfortunately, be our most enduring legacy.”

Since the origin of life on earth 3.8 billion years ago, our planet has experienced five mass extinction events. The last of these events occurred some 66 million years ago when a six-mile-wide asteroid is thought to have collided with earth, wiping out the dinosaurs. The Cretaceous extinction event dramatically changed the composition of biodiversity on the planet: Marine ecosystems essentially collapsed, and about 75 percent of all plant and animal species disappeared.

Despite the evidence that humanity is driving mass extinctions, we have been woefully slow to adopt the necessary measures to solve this global environmental challenge. Our response to the mass extinction — as well as to the climate crisis — is still controlled by a hopelessly outdated view of our relationship to our environment.

Fortunately, history is full of examples of our capacity to overcome even the most difficult challenges whenever a controversy is finally resolved into a choice between what is clearly right and what is clearly wrong. The anomalies Kolbert identifies are too glaring to ignore. She makes an irrefutable case that what we are doing to cause a sixth mass extinction is clearly wrong. And she makes it clear that doing what is right means accelerating our transition to a more sustainable world.

Read the New York Times review here.

Macy, Joanna and Brown, Molly. Coming Back to Life. Gabriola Island BC Canada: New Society Publishers, 2014. (updated version)
From Kathleen Dean Moore (noted author of Wild Comfort, many other books and see below) among many other comments at the beginning of the book:

“Where there is bewilderment, Joanna Macy brings wisdom. Where there are division and discord, she speaks for the Other. Where there is despair, she joins hands to dance. Humankind is about to make a Great Turning in one direction or another. If we find a way to turn toward a deeper, fuller humanity, one of the reasons will be the fiercely compassionate genius of Joanna Macy. (This) book is a great gift to the reeling world.”

McKibben, Bill. Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2007.

McKibben, Bill. Eaarth. (No! this is not a mis-spelling.) New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2011.
This is strong but important medicine. We already live on a planet markedly and long-term altered. How can we think about it both to urgently minimize damage to humans, other animals and plants? Also how can we find resilient new (or old) ways of living on this new planet?

Moore, Kathleen Dean & Nelson, Michael P., editors. Foreword by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu. Moral Ground. San Antonio, Texas: Trinity University Press, 2010.
In Moral Ground visionaries from around the world call us to honor our moral responsibilities to the planet. In the face of species extinction, environmental degradation, and climate change, scientific knowledge cannot be our only guide. We must find ways to respond on deeper spiritual and ethical levels. Moral Ground empowers us with myriad ways to fulfill our obligation to future generations and leave a world as rich in possibilities as the one we live in now. (from note on back of book)

This is a very ecumenical, wide-ranging book. I suspect nearly everyone reading it would find some deeply meaningful sections and some that raise sparks.

Peterson, Deborah.  A Missing Piece in the Sustainability Movement: The Human Spirit
Peterson focuses thoughtfully on a missing element in the sustainability movement—a discussion of the role of the human spirit. As she writes, “Sustaining the human spirit ensures that we each have the hope, clarity of vision, and courage to do challenging work in complex organizations while bringing diverse stakeholders into the conversation during tumultuous times of change. Sustaining the human spirit will result in sustaining our natural world while also creating communities in which the human dignity of each person is honored.”

Primack, Joel & Abrams, Nancy. The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos. New York: Riverhead Books, 2006.

Primack, Joel & Abrams, Nancy. The New Universe & the Human Future: How a Shared Cosmology Could Transform the World (from the Terry Lectures Series at Yale University). New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2011.
Primack and Abrams are in good company with this series of lectures. A few of the other past lecturers include Paul Tillich, Carl Jung and Marilynne Robinson.

I initially found the first book when I was working on my first cosmos-inspired painting series and reading widely about the universe. I was fascinated by many of their ideas, including their aim to provide a new mythology for and of our earth that included the most recent scientific findings. Our earth may never look the same to you after reading their books. They also provide important perspectives on living sustainably.

He is a cosmologist, and she is a philosopher, historian and attorney (who has worked in WA DC to help politicians understand the science that they need to know for various political decisions, among other things).

Thich Nhat Hanh. Love Letter to the Earth. Berkeley CA: Parallax Press, 2013.
“Thich Nhat Hanh makes an eloquent, uplifting, and urgent call to recognize that our health and happiness are inextricably tied to Mother Earth and to all of our kin. We need this great wisdom if we are to move from our destructive path.” David Suzuki

Ed. by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth (a collection of essays). Point Reyes CA: The Golden Sufi Center, 2013.
This collection includes essays by Thich Nhat Hanh, Joanna Macy and Wendell Berry, among others.