Recommended Reads

BLUER Committee members and supporters often share with each other recommendations of books, movies, newspaper, or magazine articles, radio programs, or podcasts that we think helps further the cause of combating global climate change or related topics. This page will act as a repository for those recommendations, organized by the BLUER person making the recommendation. Let us know if you find this page useful or have any suggestions about how to make it better.

Denise's Picks
"Mother Earth News" Online
Denise recommends any and all of the articles that can be found at Mother Earth News.

"The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" by Michael Pollan
Pollan explains how American food production became fossil-fuel based. Instead of using the sun to grow grass to feed livestock, people now use fossil fuels to process corn into feed for those animals, and to process corn into feed for humans. Many people are aware of the prominence of corn syrup in many processed food; however, people may be less aware of other corn derivatives used as binders, emulsifiers, and sweeteners. Pollan argues that the result is food much cheaper and more plentiful than it used to be, but at a serious cost to our health, the environment, and animals. He argues about the energy costs associated with getting food to grocery stores and says that often our food choices result in a high indirect consumption of petroleum. Whereas there are other major contributors in our reliance on fossil-fuels, Pollan makes good arguments about why we ought to become more aware of how our food choices affect us and our planet. Find the book online at Amazon.

"Folks, This Ain’t Normal" by Joel Salatin
Joel Salatin describes himself as a "Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic farmer," he’s the owner of Pollyface farms in Virginia. He was featured in Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma and the documentary Food, Inc. You are almost certain to disagree with some of Salatin's ideas. He shares his thoughts about politics, religion, the environment (including global warming), sustainable agriculture, big business, peak oil, meat eating, government regulation, American culture, (he doesn’t own a TV) and other subjects that may provoke you. of course many of these arguments tie back to the way he runs his farm.

Joel is a college graduate and feels farmers are often dismissed as non-thinkers. He has a more intimate understanding of many of these topics in connection with his land and farm. I try to be a responsible person and keep up on sustainability issues, particularly surrounding food. Joel actually knows how an ecosystem works because he works with 1 every day, so although he uses a lot of evidence to support his claims, the book is not written with an academic approach. Find the book online at Amazon.

Jim's Picks
"Do The Math" - by Bill McKibben for Rolling Stone Magazine
Do the math - in order to avoid a 2 degree Celsius rise in global temperature (we're already almost to +1 degree) we need to limit our future carbon emissions less than 565 gigatons. Seems like a lot, but fossil fuel companies already have 2,795 gigatons on the books - known coal / gas / oil reserves. What's to keep the fossil fuel companies from extracting these reserves? Nothing; it's what they do. In essence, they've already promised their shareholders that this is what they will do.

What can we do about it? Well, it's a long shot, but for 1 thing, Bill suggests we divest - like much of the world did in the 80's when it pressured South Africa to end apartheid. Pressure institutions and municipalities to sell their holdings in fossil fuels companies. It doesn't make a lot of sense for a college to have a sustainability plan that converts to green energy, etc., while their endowment still profits from fossil fuel company's profits. Read the full July 2012 Rolling Stone article.

"Transition to Sustainability: Towards a Humane & Diverse World"
This paper from the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN) makes the case that we need to find a way to decouple our economy from carbon-based energy and do it in a way that maintains bio and cultural diversity on an equitable playing field.

"The Third Industrial Revolution" by Jeremy Rifkin
An intriguing look at what forces drove the first (steel, steam, newsprint) and second (fossil fuels, radio, telephony) industrial revolutions and the 5 pillars of what Rifkin sees as a third industrial revolution:
  • Shift to renewable energy
  • Distributed / micro power plants
  • Energy storage technologies
  • The Internet
  • Electric plug-in vehicles
I first read this article in ODE magazine, which caused me to do some Googling to find this NPR interview, which caused me to put the book on my Christmas list. To tell you the truth, the book seems like the article with some long-winded filler to make it into a book. I recommend the podcast (best) or the article (2nd best) to start. and I'm sure there is more info out there about this concept and reactions to it.

Dianne's Picks

"This American Life Episode, 'Game Changer'"
This story, “Game Changer”, delves into Penn State’s pro-gas drilling work on Marcellus Shale. Part 2 is a poignant and insightful piece on how local officials who worked hard to do their jobs and support their citizens’ health and welfare could not stand up to the corporate power behind the gas drilling. Access the podcast.