We owe a great debt to those who have worked to preserve the natural environment. The national park movement is only a small part of this effort but its symbolism is important, as is the preservation of large tracts of remaining wilderness.
- William Stolzenburg, Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators (Bloomsbury USA, 2008).
- Carl Safina, A View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year In an Unnatural World(Henry Holt & Co., 2011).
- Donald Worster, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir (Oxford University Press, 2008).
- John Muir, Nature Writings (Library of America, 1997).
- John Muir, The Eight Wilderness Discovery Books (The Mountaineers Books, 1992).
- Douglas Brinkley, Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America (Harper, 2009).
- Timothy Egan, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt & the Fire That Saved America(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009).
- Caroline Fraser, Rewilding the World: Dispatches From the Conservation Revolution (Metropolitan Books, 2010).
- Tim Flannery, Here On Earth: A Natural History of the Planet (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2011).
- D. Graham Burnett, The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century (The University of Chicago Press, 2012); “how the whale has been transformed from a species to slaughter into a species to save.”
- William Souder, On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson (Crown Publishers, 2012): a biography of Silent Spring’s author, chronicling how in her later years “she roared at the forces she believed were destroying nature . . .”
- John Weller, The Last Ocean: Antarctica’s Ross Sea Project: Saving the Most Pristine Ecosystem on Earth (Rizzoli International Publications (2013): on “sustaining that far-off world that, in turn, sustains us.”
- Jack E. Davis, The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea (Liveright Publishing, 2017): a narrative on how the Gulf has become a developer’s paradise, based on a tragic belief in an inexhaustiable bounty of nature.
- Dan Egan, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes (W.W. Norton & Company, 2017). “. . . Egan . . . nimbly splices together history, science, reporting and personal experiences into a taut and cautiously hopeful narrative.”
- David Owen, Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River (Riverhead Books, 2017): a narrative account of a great river and an enormous dam.
- Douglas Brinkley, Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America (Harper/HarperCollins, 2016): FDR as an environmentalist.
- Jeff Goodell, The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World (Little, Brown and Company, 2017): on the devastating future effects of climate change, and why we may not avoid them.
- Charles C. Mann, The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2018): “A double biography captures the essential debate about the future of the Earth.”
- John Taliaferro, Grinnell: America’s Environmental Pioneer and his Restless Drive to Save the West (Liveright, 2019): “ . . . Grinnell took up the cause of all that a hyper-expanding America was destroying: native people, untrammeled land, birds and bison and big bears.”
- Tucker Malarkey, Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon (Spiegel & Grau, 2019): “ . . . those who choose Malarkey’s more ambitious approach will be rewarded with insights into how activism and organizing shape public policy, into how things change.”
- Sierra Crane Murdoch, Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country (Random House, 2020): “Its strength derives not from vast panoramas but from an intimate gaze. By looking at Clarke’s murder through Yellow Bird’s eyes, we get to see the forces that shape and ultimately unite their lives.”
Utilizing nature responsibly:
- Michele Owens, Grow the Good Life: Why a Vegetable Garden Will Make You Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise (Rodale, 2011).
- Sarah Hayden Reichard, The Conscientious Gardener: Cultivating a Garden Ethic (University of California Press, 2011).
- Richard A. Jones and Sharon Sweeney-Lynch, The Beekeeper’s Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes and Other Home Uses (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2011).
On the many threats we face:
- Fen Montaigne, Fraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica (Henry Holt & Company, 2010). “Climate change is destroying an Antarctic penguin colony.”
- Steve Coll, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (The Penguin Press, 2012). Colls outlines “the inner workings of one of the Western world’s most significant concentrations of unelected power.”
- Eliza Griswold, Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2018): “Griswold, a journalist and a poet, paid close attention to a community in southwestern Pennsylvania over the course of seven years to convey its confounding experience with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process that injects water and chemicals deep into the ground in order to shake loose deposits of natural gas.”
- Elizabeth Kolbert, Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future (Crown, 2021): “Electrified Rivers and Other Attempts to Save the Environment”.
- Shanna H. Swan, Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, Threatening Sperm Counts, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race (Scribner, 2021): “The Everyday Chemicals That Might Be Leading Us to Our Extinction”.
- Dan Saladino, Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2022): Saladino “insists that the resulting loss of crop diversity and dependence on a handful of livestock breeds will leave us, if allowed to continue at full speed, ecologically and culturally destitute.”
- Oliver Milman, The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires that Run the World (W.W. Norton & Company, 2022): “When was the last time you had to clean bug splatter from your windshield? This ritual was once an inevitable coda to any long drive. Now, we’re far more likely to watch those same landscapes pass by through unblemished glass, mile after empty mile.”
- Jeanette Winter, Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa (Harcourt Children's Books, 2008).
- Wangari Maathai, Unbowed: A Memoir (Knopf, 2006).
- Wangari Maathi
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Dave Foreman, Rewilding North America: A Vision for Conservation in the 21st Century (Island Press, 2004).
- Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects (Simon & Schuster, 2019): “ . . . the book is an extended meditation on a question that Sverdrup-Thygeson, an entomologist at Norway’s University of Life Sciences, gets asked all the time: What good are bugs anyway?”
Documentary and Educational Films
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: a man devotes himself to the care of wild parrots.
Loss of bee populations:
National parks in the United States, Canada and Mexico:
- Grand Canyon
- Bryce Canyon
- Kings Canyon
- Grand Teton
- Great Smoky Mountains
- Pacific Rim
- Mesa Verde
- Joshua Tree
- Isle Royale
- Thousand Islands
- Glacier Bay
- Waterton Lakes
- Death Valley
- Crater Lake
- Cape Breton
- Sumidero Canyon
- Basaseachic Falls
National parks in Africa:
- Lake Nakuru
- Lake Manyara
- Kidepo Valley
- Kalahari Desert
- Okavango Delta
- Tsavo Area
- Maasai Mara National Reserve
- Central Kalahari Game Reserve
- Queen Elizabeth
- South Luangwa
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier
- Timbavati Game Reserve
- Moremi Game Reserve
National parks in South and Central America:
- Torres del Paine
- Lençóis Maranhenses
- Chapada Diamantina
- Tierra del Fuego
- Nahuel Huapi
- Los Roques
- Pantanal Matogrossense
- Vicente Perez Rosales
- Fernando de Noronha Marine
National parks in Europe:
- Plitvice Lakes
- Gran Paradiso
- Saxon Switzerland
- Belluno Domomites
- Wild Taiga
- Ordesa y Monte Perdido
- Hohe Tauern
- Dolomiti Bellunesi
- Loch Lomond and the Trossachs
- Cheile Nerei-Beușnița
- Lake District
National parks in Asia:
- Guilin and Lijiang River
- Ao Phang Nga
- Jiuzhai Valley
- Khao Sam Roi Yot
- Yàdīng Nature Reserve
- Khao Yai
- Gunung Mulu
- Taman Negara
- Khao Sak
- Pha Taem
National parks in Australia and New Zealand:
- Uluru-Kata Tjuta
- Blue Mountains
- Whitsunday Islands
- Wilsons Promontory
- Mount Aspiring
- Abel Tasman
- Aoraki/Mt. Cook
- Nelson Lakes
- Australia’s West Coast
National parks in Pacific island nations:
- Bromo Tengger Semeru
- Puerto Princesa Subterranean River
- Ujung Kolong
- Bogani Nani Wartabone
- Kerinci Seblat
- Way Kambas
- Tanjung Puting
Caribbean national parks:
- John Constable, Golding Constable's Flower Garden (1815)
- John Constable, Golding Constable's Kitchen Garden (1815)
- John Constable, Wivenhoe Park (1816)
- Edward Landseer, Sanctuary (1829)
- Nikolay Gay, Vineyard at Vico (1858)
Film and Stage
- Mountain Patrol: Kekexili: a group of Tibetans isolate themselveson a mountain four miles above sea level to protect the endangered Tibetan antelope from poachers, who have no qualms about killing the animals or the men
- Avatar: a soldier loses function in his legs and undertakes a missionin an alien world, only to discover that he belongs in spirit with the nature-worshiping “aliens”; the film’s celebration of violence mars and blurs the message, though.
- Walkabout: on the “contrast between civilization and man’s more natural states”; “a statement on the exploitation of the natural world and native cultures by European civilization”
- First Reformed: the film’s inner meaning is enigmatic, even to the filmmaker but the message on climate change cannot be ignored.
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Nawang Khechog, “Caring for Our Mother Nature”
Grey and furtive in the final twilight, he lopes by, leaving his spoor along the bank of this nameless river that has quenched the thirst of his throat, these waters that repeats no stars. Tonight, the wolf is a shade who runs alone and searches for his mate and feels cold. He is the last wolf in all of Angle-land. Odin and Thor know him. In a commanding house of stone a king has made up his mind to put an end to wolves. The powerful blade of your death has already been forged. Saxon wolf, your seed has come to nothing. To be cruel isn't enough. You are the last. A thousand years will pass and an old man will dream of you in America. What use can that future dream possibly be to you? Tonight the men who followed through the woods the spoor you left are closing in on you, grey and furtive in the final twilight.
[Jorge Luis Borges, “A Wolf”]
- Robert Frost, “A Brook In the City”
- Robert Frost, “The Exposed Nest”
- William Wordsworth, “Proud were ye, Mountains”
- William Wordsworth, “On the Projected Kendal and Windermere Railway”
Books of poems:
- Brenda Shaughnessy, The Octupus Museum: Poems (Knopf, 2019): “posits an apocalyptic future that looks a lot like now, an extension of our current dystopia in which food, water, housing and medical care are scarce or too expensive to access.”
- Margaret Atwood, Dearly: New Poems (Ecco, 2020): “Much of the book is concerned with ecology and with time: most interestingly, with how the present moment, 'our too-brief history,' will look in the future.”
- Jorie Graham, [To] The Last [Be] Human (Copper Canyon, 2022): “. . . an omnibus edition of Graham’s four most recent books, originally published between 2008 and 2020, years during which she has invested sustained attention in the ongoing climate crisis and humanitarian disasters.”
- Mai Der Vang, Yellow Rain: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2021): “The collection is separated into five sections, each one offering more clarity about the historical reality of Hmong displacement and the lives lost to chemical warfare, the unwillingness of the United States to acknowledge the use of chemical weapons, and the generational trauma resulting from forced displacement, massacre and global denial.”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
- Rolnick, “Oceans Eat Cities”, about global warming
- Spears, “The Tower and the Garden” (2018), a “four-movement setting of poems by Keith Garebian, Denise Levertov and Thomas Merton exploring religion, technology and conservation”
- Martin Bresnick, String Quartet No. 4, “The Planet on the Table”, “inspired—instigated is perhaps a better word—by the poetry of Wallace Stevens”; along the same lines is Bresnick’s “Bird As Prophet”.
- Steven Stucky, “Silent Spring” (2011), inspired by Rachel Carson’s book.
- Bruce Wolosoff has composed works for cello and piano, which he presents on the album “Paradise Found”, with cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio. The main works are Cello Sonata No. 1, “Paradise Found”, evoking the experience of witnessing nature in its splendid beauty; the second is Cello Sonata No. 2, “Requiem for the Planet”.
- Yolanda Kondonassis describes her solo harp album, “Five Minutes for Earth”, as “a project that both celebrates our planet and illuminates the challenge to preserve it. In 2020, I asked each of the composers featured in this collection if they would consider contributing a work for solo harp of approximately five minutes in length that expresses a powerful experience inspired by Earth in one of its many conditions or atmospheres.”
- Renée Fleming, “Voice of Nature: The Anthropocene”: “ . . . Fleming reflects on the climate crisis, and the urgent threat to the natural world, and, implicitly, to our existence.” [Neil Fisher, Gramophone magazine, November 2021 issue, p. 77.]
- Ros Bandt, “Medusa Dreaming”, “a site-specific water symphony”, presents “a sonic archaeology of the site and a desperate plea for international water care in the time of global collapse”.
- Iro Haarla Electric Ensemble, “What We Will Leave Behind”
- Kaleiido, “Elements”: in four parts – sky, land, ocean and ember – like a prayer for Earth
- Sushma Soma, “Home”, with tracks about consumerism and elephant hunting
- Yarn/Wire, “Little Jimmy” (2022): the album contains three compositions by Andrew McIntosh. “Little Jimmy incorporates field recordings of a wilderness that has since been decimated by wildfire, creating a unique autobiographical and climatological context for the piece while unintentionally archiving a natural setting that no longer exists. The sonic landscapes of the forest, mountains, wind, and birds are echoed by Yarn/Wire’s soundscape of piano and percussion, inviting meditative reflections about humans and nature that both connect and contrast the two worlds.”
- Christopher Tin, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & Voces8, “The Lost Birds: An Extinction Elegy” (2022) (46’) is a mournful tribute to species made extinct. In the liner notes to the album, Tin writes: “It’s a celebration of their beauty—as symbols of hope, peace, and renewal. But it also mourns their absence—through the lonely branches of a tree, or the fading echoes of distant bird cries.”
- Jeff VanderMeer, Hummingbird Salamander: A Novel (MCD/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2021): “This is climate fiction at its most urgent and gripping.”
- Alexandra Kleeman, Something New Under the Sun: A Novel (Hogarth, 2021): “imagines a highly imaginable California so ravaged by drought and wildfires that only the rich can afford to survive.”
- Matt Bell, Appleseed: A Novel (Custom House, 2021) “employs myth, magic and science to give a damning account of the narrative of American exceptionalism and the relentless post-conquest exploitation of this country’s vast natural resources.”
- Richard Powers, Bewilderment: A Novel (W.W. Norton & Company, 2021): “It’s a book about ecological salvation that somehow makes you want to flick an otter on the back of the head, for no good reason at all.”