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Green Group Book Club 2011 > September 2011: Free space!

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message 1: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 282 comments Ok, so September managed to sneak up on all (I'm back in school, Marieke is a busy lady), so we didn't get a book chosen. Here is my proposal:

Write us a book report! Pick a book that somehow connects to environmental science somehow, and tell us about it! By connect I mean it could be basically anything. Economics, politics, a certain environmental issue, food, sustainability, community, etc. Anything. It'll be just like 5th grade again.

Basic format for report:
-Title, Author, etc
-How you feel it relates to environmental science or green-ness
-Favorite thing you learned
-Thing you found the most shocking/disturbing/gross
-A short review if you feel like it
-Whether or not you would recommend it, and to whom

And that's it! If you want to include more or less, feel free. Please link the book into the topic so other members can click. I just wrote these so you'd have some direction. If you don't like direction, by all means create your own.

What do you guys think? Hope that suits, and I look forward to seeing what you've read!

Note: I did NOT run this by Marieke, just a random idea I came up with while daydreaming in calc.


message 2: by Marieke (new)

Marieke Haha! Great idea!


message 3: by jennbunny (new)

jennbunny Byrkit This is a great idea!


message 4: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 282 comments I'm excited. Now I just have to pick a book. I also really look forward to seeing what other people pick! Feel free to do more than one if you want, too.


message 5: by Mark (last edited Oct 06, 2011 07:22PM) (new)

Mark (Mark_Leach) | 6 comments HaHa. Nobody likes writing book reviews!

I'll give a brief one for "Power Down: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World" by Richard Heinberg. (2004). Heinberg is one of the most articulate writers and speakers about the concept of "peak" non-renewable resources: peak oil, peak natural gas, peak coal, etc. The idea is that supplies go up, reach a peak, and then they dwindle.

The first chapter is about the end of cheap energy. Some of the details are out-of-date, but the general concepts are not. One important one is that we won't know for sure when we've passed the peak of cheap energy until we're well passed the peak. Then it may be too late to retool. Several more recent other books cover the same territory in more detail.

What I like about this book are chapters two through five. Which are about plausible future scenarios about how we might cope with declining energy.

1. Fighting over the last drop of oil. This was written when Cheney and Bush were in the White House, so it seemed very plausible. Still, are we more likely to cooperate or compete as energy supplies dry up?

2. Powerdown: Cooperate. Learn to use less energy. Transition rapidly to renewables. Decrease reliance on fossil fuels before they become scarce. (By the way, this is what my hero R. Buckminster Fuller urged in the 1960s, when he said that burning fossils for fuel was immoral because it was stealing from future generations.)

3. Waiting for the fix: Hey! Why change? Somebody will discover cold fusion or invent the water & air engine or ... . (I've given lots of talks on sustainability and there is almost always the person that needs to tell us about the secret energy source that will save us. So why worry?) Heinberg says waiting for the fix might be what leads us to fighting for the last drop.

4. Building lifeboats: In this chapter, Heinberg assumes that society falls apart. Some people will hide in their well-armed fortifications. But others will go into service, showing the unprepared the skills they need to survive: gardening, weaving, medicine, etc.

I used this book in my college classes. I would have different students read different chapters and then we'd get together, hear what each other read, and talk about what our futures might be like.

I highly recommend this book to groups for generating dialogue about what kind of energy future we want.


message 6: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 282 comments I love Heinberg's work. Great review! What/where do you teach if you don't mind my asking?

It's not that I don't like posting reviews...I'm just struggling to find time to read. Being in school full time and working full time has resulted in a larger time crunch than I had imagined it would.


message 7: by Mark (new)

Mark (Mark_Leach) | 6 comments Kirsten wrote: "I love Heinberg's work. Great review! What/where do you teach if you don't mind my asking?

It's not that I don't like posting reviews...I'm just struggling to find time to read. Being in school..."


Working full time while going to school was hard on me (and impossible when I tried working second shift). I hope you have people around being nice to you.

I used PowerDown when I taught at Northland College, which is in Ashland, Wisconsin. I more recently taught Biology at University of Wisconsin-Stout. I am not teaching now. I am writing a book on ecology and human's relationship with nature disguised as a book of ecological-restoration success stories.


message 8: by Marieke (new)

Marieke i totally failed this assignment. (sorry, Kirsten!) but high five for mark who stepped up! oh--my cousin and the gal who became his wife went to northland. :D

i might redeem myself within a couple of weeks and share my thoughts on at least one essay from the Post-Carbon Reader.


message 9: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 282 comments My grandma is an alumae of Northland College, actually.

I don't think my coworkers or classmates really understand the other side of the equation very well, so it's kind of tough. Half the time I'm scribbling out math problems when I'm supposed to be doing my paperwork (government employee).

No worries, Marieke! I will try to redeem myself...somehow.


message 10: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 282 comments The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals And Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World
I think this is a really important book, especially with how the U.S. Economy is set up. We can have the non-profits, government regulations, etc, but we really do need the business world involved too. Everyone needs to work together, and I think they could do a better job, but the average environmentalist could do a better job reaching out to them, too.
I really enjoyed seeing the progress that has been made in the business world already, and I think it's great that many people are trying to make a change.
It was shocking to see how much waste has been generated in the pursuit of wealth.
I would recommend this book to everyone. Especially business people, but I think there are many skills and ideas to be gained from this book that can be applied to life, not just the business world. I would especially advise environmentalists, non-profits, and government employees to read in addition to people who work in private industry.

I'll post an expanded review soon!


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The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals And Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World (other topics)