Happy World Environment Day! We’re celebrating with books about climate change, the environment, and the creatures who inhabit our planet. Read these books, and get motivated to make a positive change in your community to help protect our environment.
Tidal Rhythms: Change and Resilience at the Edge of the Sea is a collaborative effort by photographer Stephen Strom and award-winning essayist Barbara Hurd. Strom’s images, taken along beaches in the Gulf of California and the Northern California and Oregon coasts, document a world teeming with ancient life-forms, clinging to rocks and finding nourishment but revealed for only a few hours before the tidal waters return. The primitive flora and fauna together create transient marine landscapes whose complex patterns resonate with what we humans perceive as beauty.
Following the rhythms of Strom’s images as they travel between intimate portraits and expansive vistas, Hurd’s lyrical and philosophical essays both continue and complicate those cadences as she explores not just resonance, but also disturbance. As artist and writer move us from high tide to low tide and from the panoramic to the minuscule and back again, the reader is confronted with the larger issues of what happens as the seas rises, warms, and acidifies. Tidal zones are one of the first landscapes to be threatened—almost invisibly—by global climate change. Mussels, barnacles, and tidal pools are flung and ruffled or warmed and acidified in ways that stress the lives of those who live there. Shells begin to thin, species migrate north, and habitats literally disappear, yet few people are even aware of these amazing environments.
Change, of course, is part of an ancient pattern. For billions of years, the sea has risen and fallen, and life-forms have managed to adapt or not. But the current pace of change confronts us with a new and urgent question: Can the long-established but delicately balanced worlds between tidelines evolve rapidly enough to enable continued sustenance and maybe even a new beauty? In Tidal Rhythms, we are given the gift of a new world-view.
America’s Endangered Coasts
“America’s Endangered Coasts: Photographs from Texas to Maine” is a pioneering and thought-provoking photographic survey of coastal areas of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States that are already threatened by a rising sea. Using a topographic aesthetic that combines straightforward, highly detailed color photographs with GPS locations and elevations above sea level for each site, this book photographically responds to low-lying areas that are frequently over-developed and vulnerable to high tides and storms such as Hurricanes Katrina, Irene, and Sandy. This book contains 168 color photographs and two essays, one by Liz Wells, a prominent British writer who offers a photo/art perspective of the work, and one by Dr. James E. Hansen, based on his prophetic scientific understandings of the climate-change crisis and some ways to address it.
Current scientific projections conclusively show that the future of civilization along the world’s coasts is at stake due to the climate-change crisis. According to the latest conservative projections, Earth’s sea levels will rise by no less than three to four feet within a century and very possibly much more. This amount of sea-rise, compounded by hurricanes and storm surges, will threaten and make unsustainable large portions of the coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico, from Texas to Florida, and the Atlantic seaboard, from Florida to Maine. All coastal areas of the world, in fact, are at risk, since nearly half of the world’ population lives along and near coastal regions.
“America’s Endangered Coasts” promises to make an important contribution to the world of photographic art and to the public’s awareness of climate change and its impact on everyday life. The book serves as both a warning of things to come and a photographic document of lasting historical value, since many areas that Ganis has photographed will be underwater by 2100. It is the first book of its kind to offer such comprehensive geographic coverage of representative areas along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts that are threatened now and in the future by a rising sea.
Hunters of the Dunes
Written in an accessible style, Eloff imparts information about the physical characteristics of the Kalahari lion, its habitat, role in the ecosystem and interaction with humans. The book concludes with the stories of a number of legendary male and female lions, and the author’s view on the survival of these magnificent animals in an ever changing environment.
Fritz Eloff was professor of Zoology at the University of Pretoria and was also well known in rugby circles. He regularly participated in radio programmes on nature, thus becoming known for his expertise throughout South Africa.
Operation Lock and the War on Rhino Poaching
Operation Lock was born in 1987 when Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, the Founder President of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), met with British biologist and conservationist Dr John Hanks, the WWF’s head in Africa, to discuss what could be done to stop the aggressive illegal trade in rhino horn, which was threatening to make rhinos extinct as a species.
They agreed that the rhino horn trade should be countered with equal aggression. Hanks began discussions with Sir David Stirling, the founder of the British SAS, who now ran a private security company, KAS Enterprises, staffed by former SAS operatives. This company provided the personnel for what would become known as Operation Lock, and Prince Bernhard provided the money.
Operation Lock set up its headquarters in Johannesburg, and extended its reach into neighboring states: Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Swaziland and Mozambique. Its operatives planned to train game rangers, to go undercover and sell rhino horn themselves in order to entrap buyers, and even to kill the kingpins who were driving the trade. It was always going to be controversial, and even more so because it was working in and with apartheid South Africa in the late 1980s. When news was finally leaked, the WWF denied any involvement, and John Hanks took the fall.
In Operation Lock and the War on Rhino Poaching, John Hanks finally tells the story of these explosive events from 25 years ago. Hanks has the inside knowledge, and all the documents, to reveal what really happened. The book also deals with the scourge of rhino poaching in more recent years, and it gives powerful and controversial criticism of some of the current policies to curb poaching.
Want more books like these? Check out the World Environment Day category on our website!