Books for Earth Day

A round-up of fantastic books for readers of all ages and across genres, about nature, ecology, and conservation. 

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Between Breaths, by Robert Chafe

About the book: Jon Lien was once a respected researcher and a risk-taker, swimming into dangerous waters to save whales and the fishing gear they were trapped in. But now Jon’s confined to land, living his last years in a wheelchair with brain damage after an accident and illness.

The man who rescued over 500 whales around the world stretches his mind in memories of release and salvation. His powerful story swims backward through time, as he goes from worrying his wife and frustrating his friend, to being a reckless starter and adventurer, to lecturing university classes, to his very first encounter with a whale.

Robert Chafe crafts a raw portrayal of the true story of Dr. Jon Lien, Newfoundland’s “Whale Man,” into a tale of perseverance, control, and compassion.

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Landscape into Eco Art: Articulations of Nature Since the '60s, by Mark Cheetham

About the book: Dedicated to an articulation of the earth from broadly ecological perspectives, eco art is a vibrant subset of contemporary art that addresses the widespread public concern with rapid climate change and related environmental issues. In Landscape into Eco Art, Mark Cheetham systematically examines connections and divergences between contemporary eco art, land art of the 1960s and 1970s, and the historical genre of landscape painting.

Through eight thematic case studies that illuminate what eco art means in practice, reception, and history, Cheetham places the form in a longer and broader art-historical context. He considers a wide range of media—from painting, sculpture, and photography to artists’ films, video, sound work, animation, and installation—and analyzes the work of internationally prominent artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Nancy Holt, Mark Dion, and Robert Smithson. In doing so, Cheetham reveals eco art to be a dynamic extension of a long tradition of landscape depiction in the West that boldly enters into today’s debates on climate science, government policy, and our collective and individual responsibility to the planet.

An ambitious intervention into eco-criticism and the environmental humanities, this volume provides original ways to understand the issues and practices of eco art in the Anthropocene. Art historians, humanities scholars, and lay readers interested in contemporary art and the environment will find Cheetham’s work valuable and invigorating.

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Mourning Nature: Hope at the Heart of Ecological Loss and Grief, edited by Ashlee Cunsolo & Karen Landman

About the book: We are facing unprecedented environmental challenges, including global climate change, large-scale industrial development, rapidly increasing species extinction, ocean acidification, and deforestation—challenges that require new vocabularies and new ways to express grief and sorrow over the disappearance, degradation, and loss of nature. 

Seeking to redress the silence around ecologically based anxiety in academic and public domains, and to extend the concepts of sadness, anger, and loss, Mourning Nature creates a lexicon for the recognition and expression of emotions related to environmental degradation. Exploring the ways in which grief is experienced in numerous contexts, this groundbreaking collection draws on classical, philosophical, artistic, and poetic elements to explain environmental melancholia. Understanding that it is not just how we mourn but what we mourn that defines us, the authors introduce new perspectives on conservation, sustainability, and our relationships with nature.

An ecological elegy for a time of climatic and environmental upheaval, Mourning Nature challenges readers to turn devastating events into an opportunity for positive change.

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The Subjugation of Canadian Wildlife: Failures of Principle and Policy, by Max Foran

About the book: Hardly a day goes by without news of the extinction or endangerment of yet another animal species, followed by urgent but largely unheeded calls for action. An eloquent denunciation of the failures of Canada’s government and society to protect wildlife from human exploitation, Max Foran’s The Subjugation of Canadian Wildlife argues that a root cause of wildlife depletions and habitat loss is the culturally ingrained beliefs that underpin management practices and policies. 

Tracing the evolution of the highly contestable assumptions that define the human–wildlife relationship, Foran stresses the price wild animals pay for human self-interest. Using several examples of government oversight at the federal, provincial, and territorial levels, from the Species at Risk Act to the Biodiversity Strategy, Protected Areas Network, and provincial management plans, this volume shows that wildlife policies are as much—or more—about human needs, priorities, and profit as they are about preservation. Challenging established concepts including ecological integrity, adaptive management, sport hunting as conservation, and the flawed belief that wildlife is a renewable resource, the author compels us to recognize animals as sentient individuals and as integral components of complex ecological systems.

A passionate critique of contemporary wildlife policy, The Subjugation of Canadian Wildlife calls for belief-change as the best hope for an ecologically healthy, wildlife-rich Canada.

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Trash Revolution: Breaking the Waste Cycle, by Erica Fyvie, illustrated by Bill Slavin (Ages 8-12)

About the book: All the “stuff” that surrounds us has a life cycle: materials are harvested, the stuff is made and distributed, it's consumed and then it gets trashed or recycled. Using the typical contents of a child's school backpack (defined as water, food, clothing, paper, plastic, metals, electronics), this book explores those stages in detail, including lots of ways to reduce, reuse or recycle waste along the way. Children will gain new insight into the routine decisions they make about their own consuming and trashing or recycling practices. For example: How long does it take for a cotton T-shirt to decompose in a landfill? Can a bike helmet be made from recyclable materials? Which is better for the Earth, wrapping a sandwich in aluminum foil or plastic? By learning to use critical thinking skills to make informed choices, children will feel empowered by the important, constructive role they can play in the future health of the planet. 

Author Erica Fyvie has found a way to use everyday objects to speak directly to children's curiosity and their desire to make a difference. With infographics, short subsections, sidebars and charts, the information presented is engaging and accessible. Playful illustrations by award-winning illustrator Bill Slavin help make complex subjects easier to understand, while keeping the tone friendly. From energy to climate, innovations to sustainability, this all-encompassing look at a timely topic is the perfect go-to resource for elementary science and social studies classrooms. Includes a glossary, resources, bibliography and index.

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Raven Walks Around the World: Life of a Wandering Activist , by Thom Henley

About the book: In 1970, twenty-two-year-old Thom Henley left Michigan and drifted around the northwest coast, getting by on odd jobs and advice from even odder characters. He rode the rails, built a squatter shack on a beach, came to be known as "Huckleberry" and embarked on adventures along the West Coast and abroad that, just like his Mark Twain namesake, situated him in all the right and wrong places at all the right and wrong times. Eventually, a hippie named Stormy directed him to Haida Gwaii where, upon arrival, a Haida Elder affirmed to the perplexed Huckleberry that she had been expecting him. From that point onward, Henley's life unfolded as if destiny were at work—perhaps with a little help from Raven, the legendary trickster. 

While kayaking the remote area around South Moresby Island, Henley was struck by the clear-cut logging and desecration of ancient Haida village sites. Henley collaborated with the Haida for the next fourteen years to spearhead the largest environmental campaign in Canadian history and the creation of Gwaii Haanas National Park. Later, he became a co-founder of Rediscovery—a wilderness program for First Nations and non-aboriginal youth that would become a global model for reconciliation.

Henley's story is peppered with a cast of unlikely characters serendipitously drawn together, such as the time he hosted then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and entourage, including five-year-old Justin Trudeau, at his remote driftwood hippie hut (the visit was unanticipated and at the time the helicopter touched down, Henley and a friend were doing laundry). Over and over, Henley found himself at the epicentre of significant events that included a historic train caravan across Canada, an epic Haida canoe voyage, an indigenous rights campaign world tour for the Penan tribespeople of Borneo, as well as two global disasters—the 2004 South Asian tsunami and the 2015 Nepal earthquake. 

Beautifully recounted with passion, humour and humility, Raven Walks around the World is a moving and thoughtful account of a life lived in harmony with the land and community.

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Leatherback Blues, by Karen Hood-Caddy (Ages 9-12)

About the book: Robin is kidnapped by dangerous poachers while trying to save leatherback turtles in Central America.

Robin Green is carrying on her work rescuing vulnerable animals at The Wild Place Animal Shelter when she and Zo-Zo get an amazing chance to help protect sea turtles in Central America. Worried about the bugs, the heat, and the threat of poachers, Robin faces her fears and travels there with Zo-Zo, her brother, Squirm, and her eccentric grandmother, Griff. 

It only takes one scorpion sting before Robin wants to go home, but the unbelievable sight of a leatherback turtle laying eggs on the beach changes her mind. Just when the group starts making progress, the poachers strike back. Suddenly, the turtles aren’t the only ones who need rescuing! Can Robin and Zo-Zo find a way out?

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Be a City Nature Detective: Solving the Mysteries of How Plants and Animals Survive in the Urban Jungle, by Peggy Kochanoff (Ages 4-9)

About the book: How do bedbugs get into your home? Why are some grey squirrels black? Does goldenrod cause hay fever?

Naturalist and artist Peggy Kochanoff answers these questions and more in this illustrated guide to solving nature mysteries in the city.

From the author of Silver Birch-nominated Be a Nature Detective series comes a new adventure full of fascinating facts and original watercolours. From scuttling cockroaches to waves of starlings to burdock heads on your clothes, Kochanoff takes the reader through city streets to show them the amazing nature growing there. Features a glossary, identification page, and further reading.

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 In Defence of Home Places: Environmental Activism in Nova Scotia , by Mark Leeming

About the book: As environmental deterioration became a major social and political issue near the end of the twentieth century, activists in Nova Scotia stood together to defend the places they called home. Political radicals and conservatives alike worked to achieve legislative and social success, even as they disagreed over fundamental principles. In Defence of Home Places examines the diversity of this movement, its early accomplishments, and the disagreements that caused its eventual weakening and division. It places Nova Scotian environmental activism within national and international contexts and explores the choices and tactics that brought about its greatest successes and failures.

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The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs, by Kate Messner, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe 

About the book: All it takes is one: one coral gamete to start a colony, one person to make a difference, one idea to change the world. The ongoing efforts to save and rebuild the world's coral reefs—with hammer and glue, and grafts of newly grown coral—are the living legacy of Ken Nedimyer, founder of the Coral Restoration Foundation. Kate Messner and Matthew Forsythe tell the true story of the coral restoration pioneer in this brilliant tribute to the wonders of nature and the power of human hope.

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Rag Cosmology, by Erin Robinsong

About the book: In this time of ecological precarity, Rag Cosmology is an urgent invitation to reinvent our modes engagement with the environment we not only inhabit, but are. Refusing the lamentation that leaves us as resigned witnesses to devastation, Rag Cosmology counters fatalist narratives with the pleasures of ecological entanglement and engagement. 

Tracing relationships between seemingly irreconcilable things—economy and ecology, weather and lust, bills and inner voices, wages of avoidance and wages of listening—Rag Cosmology offers the intimate and lush language of thought that yearns for an imaginative reinvention of how we understand what we are part of and what we are losing.

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Eating Wild in Eastern Canada: A Guide to Foraging the Forests, Fields and Shorelines, by Jamie Simpson

About the book: From fiddleheads to spruce tips, wild food can be adventurous and fun—with the right guide. In Eating Wild in Eastern Canada, award-winning author and conservationist Jamie Simpson (Journeys through Eastern Old-Growth Forests) shows readers what to look for in the wilds and how and when to collect it.

Grouping foods by their most likely foraging locations—forests, fields, and shorelines—and with 50 full-colour photographs, identification is made accessible for the amateur hiker, wilderness enthusiast, and foodie alike. Includes historical notes and recipes, cautionary notes on foraged foods' potential dangers, and interviews with wild-edible gatherers and chefs. While gathering wild edibles may be instinctive to some, there is an art to digging for soft-shelled clams and picking highbush cranberries, and Simpson joyfully explores it in this one-of-a-kind narrative guidebook.

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Tree Song, by Tiffany Stone, illustrated by Holly Hatam (Ages 4-7)

About the book: This joyful book follows the life cycle of a tree as it grows from seedling to mature tree, and finally gives way to a new sapling. At every stage of the tree’s life, children are seen playing under its branches. 

Each season brings with it new sounds, whether it’s the chirping of birds in the spring or the flitter flutter of leaves in the fall. As well as a home for animals, the tree provides a canopy for a summer picnic, and a perfect place to hang a swing. Most important of all, when old age fells the tree, it provides an acorn from which a new tree will grow.
Colorful illustrations with lots of small details will capture the attention of young readers, while the lyrical text makes this an ideal read-aloud book. It can also serve as the perfect introduction to nature’s life cycles.

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Zero Waste, by Shia Su

About the book: We have a worldwide trash epidemic. The average American disposes of 4.4 pounds of garbage per day, and our landfills hold 254 million tons of waste. 

What if there were a simple—and fun—way for you to make a difference? What if you could take charge of your own waste, reduce your carbon footprint, and make an individual impact on an already fragile environment? 

A zero waste lifestyle is the answer—and Shia Su is living it. Every single piece of unrecyclable garbage Shia has produced in one year fits into a mason jar—and if it seems overwhelming, it isn’t! In Zero Waste, Shia demystifies and simplifies the zero waste lifestyle for the beginner, sharing practical advice, quick solutions, and tips and tricks that will make trash-free living fun and meaningful. Learn how to: 

Build your own zero waste kit 
Prepare real food—the lazy way 
Make your own DIY household cleaners and toiletries 
Be zero waste even in the bathroom! 
And more! 

Be part of the solution! Implement these small changes at your own pace, and restructure your life to one of sustainable living for your community, your health, and the earth that sustains you.

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Just Cool It!, by David Suzuki & Ian Hanington

About the book: Climate change is the most important crisis humanity has faced, but we still confront huge barriers to resolving it. So, what do we do, and is there hope for humanity? The problem itself is complex, and there’s no single solution. But by understanding the barriers to resolving global warming and by employing a wide range of solutions—from shifting to clean energy to planting trees to reforming agricultural practices—we can get the world back on track. 

Just Cool It is David Suzuki at his most passionate. In this book, he offers a comprehensive look at the current state of climate science and knowledge and the many ways to resolve the climate crisis, imploring us to do what’s necessary to live in a better, cleaner future. When enough people demand action, change starts happening—and this time, it could be monumental.

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Book Cover Something in the water

Environmental Racism in Indigenous & Black Communities, by Ingrid R. G. Waldron

About the book: In There’s Something In The Water, Ingrid R. G. Waldron examines the legacy of environmental racism and its health impacts in Indigenous and Black communities in Canada, using Nova Scotia as a case study, and the grassroots resistance activities by Indigenous and Black communities against the pollution and poisoning of their communities.

Using settler colonialism as the overarching theory, Waldron unpacks how environmental racism operates as a mechanism of erasure enabled by the intersecting dynamics of white supremacy, power, state-sanctioned racial violence, neoliberalism and racial capitalism in white settler societies. By and large, the environmental justice narrative in Nova Scotia fails to make race explicit, obscuring it within discussions on class, and this type of strategic inadvertence mutes the specificity of Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian experiences with racism and environmental hazards in Nova Scotia. By redefining the parameters of critique around the environmental justice narrative and movement in Nova Scotia and Canada, Waldron opens a space for a more critical dialogue on how environmental racism manifests itself within this intersectional context.

Waldron also illustrates the ways in which the effects of environmental racism are compounded by other forms of oppression to further dehumanize and harm communities already dealing with pre-existing vulnerabilities, such as long-standing social and economic inequality. Finally, Waldron documents the long history of struggle, resistance, and mobilizing in Indigenous and Black communities to address environmental racism.

April 19, 2018
Books mentioned in this post
Between Breaths

Between Breaths

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : canadian
More Info
Landscape into Eco Art

Landscape into Eco Art

Articulations of Nature Since the '60s
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
More Info
Mourning Nature

Mourning Nature

Hope at the Heart of Ecological Loss and Grief
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook
More Info
The Subjugation of Canadian Wildlife

The Subjugation of Canadian Wildlife

Failures of Principle and Policy
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover
tagged : animal rights
More Info
The Brilliant Deep

The Brilliant Deep

Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs: The Story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation
edition:Hardcover
More Info
Raven Walks Around the World

Raven Walks Around the World

Life of a Wandering Activist
edition:Hardcover
More Info
Leatherback Blues

Leatherback Blues

The Wild Place Adventure Series
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Be a City Nature Detective

Be a City Nature Detective

Solving the Mysteries of How Plants and Animals Survive in the Urban Jungle
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
The Brilliant Deep

The Brilliant Deep

Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs: The Story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation
edition:Hardcover
More Info

edition:
also available: Hardcover Book Book
tagged :
More Info

edition:
also available: Hardcover Book Book
tagged :
More Info
The Brilliant Deep

The Brilliant Deep

Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs: The Story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation
edition:Hardcover
More Info
Eating Wild in Eastern Canada

Eating Wild in Eastern Canada

A Guide to Foraging the Forests, Fields and Shorelines
edition:Paperback
tagged :
More Info
Eating Wild in Eastern Canada

Eating Wild in Eastern Canada

A Guide to Foraging the Forests, Fields and Shorelines
edition:Paperback
tagged :
More Info
Zero Waste

Zero Waste

Simple Life Hacks to Drastically Reduce Your Trash
edition:Paperback
More Info
Just Cool It!

Just Cool It!

The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
There’s Something In The Water

There’s Something In The Water

Environmental Racism in Indigenous & Black Communities
edition:Paperback
More Info
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