Keeping It Green at Oakton

Your source for the most current sustainability news from Oakton Community College

Books & Other Literature

These resources can be used in conjunction with other Faculty Resources, or on their own for further exploration on Green Topics. (Compiled by Student Sustainability Researcher, Paul Slocum)

Climate Change & Energy

  • Diet for a Hot Planet by Anna Lappe–While you may not think “global warming” when you sit down to dinner, our tangled web of global food—from Pop-Tarts packaged in Tennessee and eaten in Texas to pork chops raised in Poland, with feed from Brazil, then shipped to South Korea—is connected to as much as one third of total greenhouse-gas emissions. Livestock alone is associated with more emissions than all of the world’s transportation combined. Move over, Hummer. Say hello to the hamburger.
  • The End of Nature by: Bill McKibben–This impassioned plea for radical and life-renewing change is today still considered a groundbreaking work in environmental studies. McKibben’s argument that the survival of the globe is dependent on a fundamental, philosophical shift in the way we relate to nature is more relevant than ever. McKibben writes of our earth’s environmental cataclysm, addressing such core issues as the greenhouse effect, acid rain, and the depletion of the ozone layer. His new introduction addresses some of the latest environmental issues that have risen during the 1990s. The book also includes an invaluable new appendix of facts and figures that surveys the progress of the environmental movement. More than simply a handbook for survival or a doomsday catalog of scientific prediction, this classic, soulful lament on Nature is required reading for nature enthusiasts, activists, and concerned citizens alike.
  • Hot, Flat, and Crowded by: Thomas Freidman–Friedman proposes that an ambitious national strategy— which he calls “Geo-Greenism”—is not only what we need to save the planet from overheating; it is what we need to make America healthier, richer, more innovative, more productive, and more secure. As in The World Is Flat, he explains a new era—the Energy-Climate era—through an illuminating account of recent events. He shows how 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the flattening of the world by the Internet (which brought 3 billion new consumers onto the world stage) have combined to bring climate and energy issues to Main Street.

 

 

Consumption & Capitalism

  • Cradle to Cradle by McDonough and Braungart–“Reduce, reuse, recycle” urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue in their provocative, visionary book, however, this approach perpetuates a one-way, “cradle to grave” manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. Why not challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world, they ask.
  • The Ecology of Commerce by: Paul Hawken–provocative national bestseller that addresses the necessity of merging good business practices with common sense environmental concerns. Nearly two decades after its initial publication, this controversial work by Paul Hawken has been revised and updated, arguing why business success and sustainable environmental practices need not—and, for the sake of our planet, must not—be mutually exclusive any longer.
  • How the Quest for Mineral Wealth Is Plundering the Planet, by Ugo Bard–As we dig, drill, and excavate to unearth the planet’s mineral bounty, the resources we exploit from ores, veins, seams, and wells are gradually becoming exhausted. Mineral treasures that took millions, or even billions, of years to form are now being squandered in just centuries–or sometimes just decades. Will there come a time when we actually run out of minerals? Debates already soar over how we are going to obtain energy without oil, coal, and gas. But what about the other mineral losses we face? Without metals, and semiconductors, how are we going to keep our industrial system running? Without mineral fertilizers and fuels, how are we going to produce the food we need?
    Ugo Bardi delivers a sweeping history of the mining industry, starting with its humble beginning when our early ancestors started digging underground to find the stones they needed for their tools. He traces the links between mineral riches and empires, wars, and civilizations, and shows how mining in its various forms came to be one of the largest global industries. He also illustrates how the gigantic mining machine is now starting to show signs of difficulties. The easy mineral resources, the least expensive to extract and process, have been mostly exploited and depleted. There are plenty of minerals left to extract, but at higher costs and with increasing difficulties.
  • This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein–Forget everything you think you know about global warming. The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism. The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better. In her most provocative book yet, Naomi Klein, author of the global bestsellers The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on earth.Klein exposes the myths that are clouding the climate debate.

We have been told the market will save us, when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper every day. We have been told it’s impossible to get off fossil fuels when in fact we know exactly how to do it—it just requires breaking every rule in the “free-market” playbook: reining in corporate power, rebuilding local economies, and reclaiming our democracies. We have also been told that humanity is too greedy and selfish to rise to this challenge. In fact, all around the world, the fight for the next economy and against reckless extraction is already succeeding in ways both surprising and inspiring. Climate change, Klein argues, is a civilizational wake-up call, a powerful message delivered in the language of fires, floods, storms, and droughts. Confronting it is no longer about changing the light bulbs. It’s about changing the world—before the world changes so drastically that no one is safe. 

Either we leap—or we sink.
  • The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality, by Richard Heinberg–Economists insist that recovery is at hand, yet unemployment remains high, real estate values continue to sink, and governments stagger under record deficits. The End of Growth proposes a startling diagnosis: humanity has reached a fundamental turning point in its economic history. The expansionary trajectory of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits.Richard Heinberg’s latest landmark work goes to the heart of the ongoing financial crisis, explaining how and why it occurred, and what we must do to avert the worst potential outcomes. Written in an engaging, highly readable style, it shows why growth is being blocked by three factors:
    • Resource depletion
    • Environmental impacts
    • Crushing levels of debt

    These converging limits will force us to re-evaluate cherished economic theories and to reinvent money and commerce. The End of Growth describes what policy makers, communities, and families can do to build a new economy that operates within Earth’s budget of energy and resources. We can thrive during the transition if we set goals that promote human and environmental well-being, rather than continuing to pursue the now-unattainable prize of ever-expanding GDP.

  • The Upcycle by McDonough and Braungart–The Upcycle is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Cradle to Cradle, one of the most consequential ecological manifestoes of our time. Now, drawing on the green living lessons gained from 10 years of putting the Cradle to Cradle concept into practice with businesses, governments, and ordinary people, William McDonough and Michael Braungart envision the next step in the solution to our ecological crisis: We don’t just use or reuse and recycle resources with greater effectiveness, we actually improve the natural world as we live, create, and build.

 

Ecology Principles

  • Silent Spring by: Rachel Carson–Silent Spring began with a “fable for tomorrow” – a true story using a composite of examples drawn from many real communities where the use of DDT had caused damage to wildlife, birds, bees, agricultural animals, domestic pets, and even humans. Carson used it as an introduction to a very scientifically complicated and already controversial subject. This “fable” made an indelible impression on readers and was used by critics to charge that Carson was a fiction writer and not a scientist. Serialized in three parts in The New Yorker, where President John F. Kennedy read it in the summer of 1962, Silent Spring was published in August and became an instant best-seller and the most talked about book in decades. Utilizing her many sources in federal science and in private research, Carson spent over six years documenting her analysis that humans were misusing powerful, persistent, chemical pesticides before knowing the full extent of their potential harm to the whole biota.
  • Urban Carnivores: Ecology, Conflict, and Conservation. 2010. By Stanley D. Gehrt (Editor), Seth P. D. Riley (Editor), Brian L. Cypher (Editor)–With over half of the world’s human population now living in cities, human-carnivore interaction in urban areas is a growing area of concern and research for wildlife managers, conservationists, urban planners, and the public at large. This volume brings together leading international carnivore researchers to explore the unique biological and ecological issues associated with mammalian carnivores in urban landscapes

Food & Agriculture

  • The American Way of Eating, Tracie McMillan–The narrative in The American Way of Eating is approachable and engaging while still remaining informative. McMillan makes her point about the socioeconomic aspects of the world of food by taking three different food-related jobs in three different areas of the country.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver–Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life—vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an enthralling narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat
  • The Art of Eating, M.F.K. Fisher–A collection of essays by one of America’s best known food writers, that are often more autobiographical or historical than anecdotal musings on food preparation and consumption. The book includes culinary advice to World War II housewives plagued by food shortages, portraits of family members and friends (with all their idiosyncrasies) and notes on her studies at the University of Dijon, in France. Through each story she weaves her love of food and passion for cooking, and illustrates that our three basic needs as human beings–love, food and security–are so intermingled that it is difficult to think of one without the others.
  • Bringing it to the Table by Wendell Berry–Only a farmer could delve so deeply into the origins of food, and only a writer of Wendell Berry’s caliber could convey it with such conviction and eloquence. Long before Whole Foods organic produce was available at your local supermarket, Berry was farming with the purity of food in mind. For the last five decades, Berry has embodied mindful eating through his land practices and his writing.
  • Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safron Foer–A very interesting and well-laid out book for discussing food and ethics, (as well as the health/environmental impacts of CAFOs) as a heads up, when I was a student and there was class discussion regarding this book, the ethics of eating meat became a rather heated debate.
  • Embodied Food Politics by Michael Carolan–While the phenomenon of embodied knowledge is becoming integrated into the social sciences, critical geography, and feminist research agendas it continues to be largely ignored by agro-food scholars. This book helps fill this void by inserting into the food literature living, feeling, sensing bodies and will be of interest to food scholars as well as those more generally interested in the phenomenon known as embodied realism. This book is about the materializations of food politics; “materializations”, in this case, referring to our embodied, sensuous, and physical connectivities to food production and consumption.
  • Food, Farms, and Community (2014), by Lisa Chase & Vern Grubinger– takes an in-depth look at critical issues, successful programs, and challenges for improving food systems spanning a few miles to a few thousand miles. Case studies that delve into the values that drive farmers, food advocates, and food entrepreneurs are interwoven with analysis supported by the latest research. Examples of entrepreneurial farms and organizations working together to build sustainable food systems are relevant to the entire country—and reveal results that are about much more than fresh food.
  • Food Fight: The Citizen’s Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill by Daniel Imhoff–Every five years, the U.S. Congress passes a little understood piece of legislation called the Farm Bill. Primarily accountable for setting the budgets and work plans for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm Bill is anything but bureaucratic trivia. It is an essential economic and policy engine that drives the food and farming system and provides nutritional assistance to tens of millions of Americans–many of them children. In recent years, more and more citizens are realizing just how much is at stake in this political chess game.

 

  • Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan–What should we have for dinner? Ten years ago, Michael Pollan confronted us with this seemingly simple question and, with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, his brilliant and eye-opening exploration of our food choices, demonstrated that how we answer it today may determine not only our health but our survival as a species. In the years since, Pollan’s revolutionary examination has changed the way Americans think about food. Bringing wide attention to the little-known but vitally important dimensions of food and agriculture in America, Pollan launched a national conversation about what we eat and the profound consequences that even the simplest everyday food choices have on both ourselves and the natural world. Ten years later, The Omnivore’s Dilemma continues to transform the way Americans think about the politics, perils, and pleasures of eating
  • Rebuilding the Foodshed (2013), by Philop Ackerman-Leist–Droves of people have turned to local food as a way to retreat from our broken industrial food system. From rural outposts to city streets, they are sowing, growing, selling, and eating food produced close to home—and they are crying out for agricultural reform. All this has made “local food” into everything from a movement buzzword to the newest darling of food trendsters. But now it’s time to take the conversation to the next level. That’s exactly what Philip Ackerman-Leist does in Rebuilding the Foodshed, in which he refocuses the local-food lens on the broad issue of rebuilding regional food systems that can replace the destructive aspects of industrial agriculture.
  • Remaking the North American Food System (2009) edited by C. Clare Hinrichs & Thomas A. Lyson–Food and agriculture are in the news daily. Stories in the media highlight issues of abundance, deprivation, pleasure, risk, health, community, and identity. Remaking the North American Food System examines the resurgence of interest in rebuilding the links between agricultural production and food consumption as a way to overcome some of the negative implications of industrial and globalizing trends in the food and agricultural system.
  • The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, Wendell Berry–Since its publication by Sierra Club Books in 1977, The Unsettling of America has been recognized as a classic of American letters. In it, Wendell Berry argues that good farming is a cultural development and spiritual discipline. Today’s agribusiness, however, takes farming out of its cultural context and away from families. As a result, we as a nation are more estranged from the land—from the intimate knowledge, love, and care of it
  • The Way We Eat by Peter Singer–In this revolutionary look at food and the future of life on earth, Peter Singer and James Mason examine the diets of three typical families and track down the sources of their food to see how humanely it was produced. They identify six empowering ethical principles that conscientious consumers should consider when shopping for groceries or eating out. They name names, of companies that are voluntarily instituting more humane systems, and of those that continue to offend. Recognizing that not all of us will become vegetarians, they explore ways to make the most ethical choices within the framework of a diet that includes some animal products. The bottom line is: You can be ethical without being fanatical, and here’s how.

Philosophy

  • Encounters with the Archdruid by: John McPhee–The narratives in this book are of journeys made in three wildernesses – on a coastal island, in a Western mountain range, and on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The four men portrayed here have different relationships to their environment, and they encounter each other on mountain trails, in forests and rapids, sometimes with reserve, sometimes with friendliness, sometimes fighting hard across a philosophical divide.
  • Ishmael by: Daniel Quinn–The narrator of this extraordinary tale is a man in search for truth. He answers an ad in a local newspaper from a teacher looking for serious pupils, only to find himself alone in an abandoned office with a full-grown gorilla who is nibbling delicately on a slender branch. “You are the teacher?” he asks incredulously. “I am the teacher,” the gorilla replies. Ishmael is a creature of immense wisdom and he has a story to tell, one that no other human being has ever heard. It is a story that extends backward and forward over the lifespan of the earth from the birth of time to a future there is still time to save. Like all great teachers, Ishmael refuses to make the lesson easy; he demands the final illumination to come from within ourselves. Is it man’s destiny to rule the world? Or is it a higher destiny possible for him—one more wonderful than he has ever imagined?
  • Last Child in the Woods by: Richard Louv–In this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard.
  • Reflecting on Nature by Gruen and Jamieson–Spanning centuries of philosophical and environmental thought, Reflecting on Nature: Readings in Environmental Ethics and Philosophy, Second Edition, will inform and enlighten your students while also encouraging debate.
    Extensively revised and updated for the second edition, this comprehensive collection presents fifty classic and contemporary readings, thirty-three of them new. The second edition retains the core readings and insights of the first edition while also updating its coverage in light of the many changes that have occurred over the last twenty years in the intellectual climate and in patterns of environmental concern. The selections are topically organized into sections on animals, biodiversity, ethics, images of nature, wilderness, and–new to this edition–aesthetics, climate change, and food. This thematic organization, in combination with coverage of current environmental issues, encourages students to apply what they learn in class to real-life problems. Featuring insightful section introductions, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading, Reflecting on Nature, Second Edition, is ideal for use in environmental philosophy, environmental ethics, and environmental studies courses.

Society

  • Collapse of Western Civilization by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway–The year is 2393, and the world is almost unrecognizable. Clear warnings of climate catastrophe went ignored for decades, leading to soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, widespread drought and―finally―the disaster now known as the Great Collapse of 2093, when the disintegration of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet led to mass migration and a complete reshuffling of the global order. Writing from the Second People’s Republic of China on the 300th anniversary of the Great Collapse, a senior scholar presents a gripping and deeply disturbing account of how the children of the Enlightenment―the political and economic elites of the so-called advanced industrial societies―failed to act, and so brought about the collapse of Western civilization. In this haunting, provocative work of science-based fiction, Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway imagine a world devastated by climate change. Dramatizing the science in ways traditional nonfiction cannot, the book reasserts the importance of scientists and the work they do and reveals the self-serving interests of the so called “carbon combustion complex” that have turned the practice of science into political fodder. Based on sound scholarship and yet unafraid to speak boldly, this book provides a welcome moment of clarity amid the cacophony of climate change literature.
  • The Dandelion Insurrection by Rivera Sun–The Dandelion Insurrection is the story of nonviolent revolution in the United States. This book offers through its story many tools and strategies developed by countless leaders throughout history, including Gandhi, Dr. King, Cesar Chavez, and Professor Gene Sharp. From marches to cazerolazo pot-and-pan protests to strikes to Victory Gardens for the People; the Dandelion Insurrection shares ideas that have changed the world.
  • Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, by David R. Mongomery–Dirt, soil, call it what you want—it’s everywhere we go. It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. This fascinating yet disquieting book finds, however, that we are running out of dirt, and it’s no laughing matter. An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations explores the compelling idea that we are—and have long been—using up Earth’s soil. Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, slowly enough to be ignored in a single lifetime but fast enough over centuries to limit the lifespan of civilizations. A rich mix of history, archaeology and geology, Dirt traces the role of soil use and abuse in the history of Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, China, European colonialism, Central America, and the American push westward. We see how soil has shaped us and we have shaped soil—as society after society has risen, prospered, and plowed through a natural endowment of fertile dirt. David R. Montgomery sees in the recent rise of organic and no-till farming the hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations.
  • Eaarth by Bill McKibbenThe new planet is filled with new binds and traps. A changing world costs large sums to defend—think of the money that went to repair New Orleans, or the trillions it will take to transform our energy systems. But the endless economic growth that could underwrite such largesse depends on the stable planet we’ve managed to damage and degrade. We can’t rely on old habits any longer. Our hope depends, McKibben argues, on scaling back—on building the kind of societies and economies that can hunker down, concentrate on essentials, and create the type of community (in the neighborhood, but also on the Internet) that will allow us to weather trouble on an unprecedented scale. Change—fundamental change—is our best hope on a planet suddenly and violently out of balance.
  • Ecotopia by: –Ecotopia was founded when northern California, Oregon, and Washington seceded from the Union to create a “stable-state” ecosystem: the perfect balance between human beings and the environment. Now, twenty years later, this isolated, mysterious nation is welcoming its first officially sanctioned American visitor: New York Times-Post reporter Will Weston.
    Skeptical yet curious about this green new world, Weston is determined to report his findings objectively. But from the start, he’s alternately impressed and unsettled by the laws governing Ecotopia’s earth-friendly agenda: energy-efficient “mini-cities” to eliminate urban sprawl, zero-tolerance pollution control, tree worship, ritual war games, and a woman-dominated government that has instituted such peaceful revolutions as the twenty-hour workweek and employee ownership of farms and businesses. His old beliefs challenged, his cynicism replaced by hope, Weston meets a sexually forthright Ecotopian woman and undertakes a relationship whose intensity will lead him to a critical choice between two worlds.
  • The World Without Us by Alan Weisman–In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; what of our everyday stuff may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe.

Social Justice & Equality

  • Countdown, byAlan Weisman–In particular, it addresses the role of women in different cultures. The Iranian contraceptive policy is riveting as it’s a totalitarian theocracy that had a liberal contraception policy that greatly slowed the Iranian population explosion.

Sustainability Basics

  • The Nature of College: How a new understanding of campus life can change the world, Jim FarrellEngaging in a deep and richly entertaining study of campus ecology, The Nature of College explores one day in the life of the average student, questioning what “natural” is and what common sense is really good for, and weighing the collective impacts of the everyday.
  • Pursuing Sustainability: A Guide to the Science and Practice By: Pamela Matson, William C. Clark & Krister Andersson–Sustainability is a global imperative and a scientific challenge like no other. This concise guide provides students and practitioners with a strategic framework for linking knowledge with action in the pursuit of sustainable development, and serves as an invaluable companion to more narrowly focused courses dealing with sustainability in particular sectors such as energy, food, water, and housing, or in particular regions of the world. Written by leading experts, Pursuing Sustainability shows how more inclusive and interdisciplinary approaches and systems perspectives can help you achieve your sustainability objectives. It stresses the need for understanding how capital assets are linked to sustainability goals through the complex adaptive dynamics of social-environmental systems, how committed people can use governance processes to alter those dynamics, and how successful interventions can be shaped through collaborations among researchers and practitioners on the ground.
  • Resilience Thinking:Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World by: Brian Walker and David Salt–Increasingly, cracks are appearing in the capacity of communities, ecosystems, and landscapes to provide the goods and services that sustain our planet’s well-being. The response from most quarters has been for “more of the same” that created the situation in the first place: more control, more intensification, and greater efficiency. “Resilience thinking” offers a different way of understanding the world and a new approach to managing resources. It embraces human and natural systems as complex entities continually adapting through cycles of change, and seeks to understand the qualities of a system that must be maintained or enhanced in order to achieve sustainability. It explains why greater efficiency by itself cannot solve resource problems and offers a constructive alternative that opens up options rather than closing them down. In Resilience Thinking, scientist Brian Walker and science writer David Salt present an accessible introduction to the emerging paradigm of resilience. The book arose out of appeals from colleagues in science and industry for a plainly written account of what resilience is all about and how a resilience approach differs from current practices. Rather than complicated theory, the book offers a conceptual overview along with five case studies of resilience thinking in the real world. It is an engaging and important work for anyone interested in managing risk in a complex world.
  • Sustainability: Principles and Practice by Margaret Robertson  —gives an accessible and comprehensive overview of the interdisciplinary field of sustainability. The focus is on furnishing solutions and equipping the student with both conceptual understanding and technical skills for the workplace. Each chapter explores one aspect of the field, first introducing relevant theory and presenting issues, then supplying tools for working toward solutions. Elements of sustainability are examined piece by piece, and wide coverage ranges over ecosystems, social equity, environmental justice, food, energy, product life cycles, cities, and more.
  • This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein–In her most provocative book yet, Naomi Klein, author of the global bestsellers The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on earth.

Water

  • The Chicago River: An Illustrated History and Guide to the River and its Waterways by David M. Solzman–The river is indeed the soul of the city—it runs through the heart of downtown, and it is a vehicle for both pleasure and the industry that keeps Chicago humming. With The Chicago River, Solzman has succeeded in writing an encyclopedic work—at once guidebook and history—that explores the river’s physical character and natural history. Examining the river’s past, contemplating its present, and forecasting its future, Solzman draws on his unparalleled knowledge to point out places of scientific and historic interest—involving everything from infamous murder cases to invasive zebra mussels. The book’s 200 photographs and maps perfectly complement Solzman’s vivid prose, leading readers on a visual journey as sinuous as the river it celebrates—a journey interspersed with plenty of river lore, facts, and literary quotations.
  • The Chicago River: A Natural and Unnatural History by Libby Hill–Used and abused. Straightened and channelized. Reversed and revered. But never ignored…an intimate biography of the heroic creek that Chicago made. When French explorers Jolliet and Marquette used the Chicago portage to access the Mississippi River system, the Chicago River was but a humble, even sluggish, stream in the right place at the right time. That’s the story of the making of Chicago. This is the other story–the story of the making and perpetual re-making of a river by everything from pre-glacial forces to the interventions of an emerging and mighty city. Author Libby Hill brings together years of original research and the contributions of dozens of experts to tell the Chicago River’s epic tale from its conception in prehistoric bedrock to the glorious rejuvenation it’s undergoing today, and every exciting episode in between.
  • Consuming Nature by Gregory Summers–Summers takes readers to Wisconsin’s Fox River Valley more than fifty years ago to recount how technological and economic progress contributed to residents’ growing opposition to the industrial pollution of the river. On the one hand, there was the Wisconsin paper industry-long the largest employer in the area but also largely responsible for polluting the Fox River. On the other hand, there was the burgeoning demand for outdoor recreation among local residents, which put the river’s recreational and aesthetic benefits on an equal footing with its industrial potential. As a result, many citizens felt that paper mills no longer deserved carte blanche to dump their waste.
  • The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed its River and the Land Beyond by Michael F. Williams–With more than 150 never-before-published duotone images, taken between 1892 and 1930, this collection explores the history of the Chicago River and the impact its reversal had on the watershed all the way to the Mississippi River. Offering the most complete description available of the river reversal, the stories told here provide a better understanding as to how it was done and why it was necessary, as well as how the water from the Chicago River is treated.
  • The Organic Machine by Richard White–The Hill and Wang Critical Issues Series: concise, affordable works on pivotal topics in American history, society, and politics. In this pioneering study, White explores the relationship between the natural history of the Columbia River and the human history of the Pacific Northwest for both whites and Native Americans. He concentrates on what brings humans and the river together: not only the physical space of the region but also, and primarily, energy and work. For working with the river has been central to Pacific Northwesterners’ competing ways of life. It is in this way that White comes to view the Columbia River as an organic machine–with conflicting human and natural claims–and to show that whatever separation exists between humans and nature exists to be crossed.
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