Required Reading: Earth Day

By Mitali Sapra

This Earth Day, discover new strategies for combatting climate change. These five books will teach you about the state of nature, inspire you to create ecoart, and help you to laugh in the face of hopelessness.

Stay Cool by Aaron Sachs

Stay Cool enjoins us to laugh our way forward. Human beings have used comedy to cope with difficult realities since the beginning of recorded time—the more dismal the news, the darker the humor. Using this rich tradition of dark comedy to investigate climate change, Aaron Sachs makes the case that gallows humor, a mainstay of African Americans and Jews facing extraordinary oppression, can cultivate endurance, persistence, and solidarity in the face of calamity. 

Ecoart in Action

Edited by Amara Geffen, Ann Rosenthal, Chris Fremantle, and Aviva Rahmani

Compiled from 67 members of the Ecoart Network, a group of more than 200 internationally established practitioners, Ecoart in Action stands as a field guide that offers practical solutions to critical environmental challenges. Organized into three sections—Activities, Case Studies, and Provocations—each contribution provides models for Ecoart practice that are adaptable for use within a variety of classrooms, communities, and contexts. 

The Sustainability Myth by Melissa Checker

Winner of the 2021 Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Prize, The Sustainability Myth uncovers the hidden costs and contradictions of sustainable policies in an era driven by real estate development. Focusing on industrial waterfronts and historically underserved places like Harlem and Staten Island’s North Shore, Checker takes an in-depth look at the dynamics of environmental gentrification, documenting the symbiosis between eco-friendly initiatives and high-end redevelopment and its impact on out-of-the-way, non-gentrifying neighborhoods.

The Return Of Nature by John Bellamy Foster

Winner of the 2020 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize, The Return Of Nature is a fascinating reinterpretation of the radical and socialist origins of ecology. It begins with the deaths of Darwin and Marx and moves on until the rise of the ecological age in the 1960s and 1970s. Foster explores how socialist analysts and materialist scientists of various stamps, first in Britain, then the United States, from William Morris and Frederick Engels, to Joseph Needham, Rachel Carson, and Stephen J. Gould, sought to develop a dialectical naturalism, rooted in a critique of capitalism.

Water by Jeremy J. Shmidt

Water: Abundance, Scarcity, and Security in the Age of Humanity details the remarkable intellectual history of America’s water management philosophy. It shows how this philosophy shaped early twentieth-century conservation in the United States, influenced American international development programs, and ultimately shaped programs of global governance that today connect water resources to the Earth system. 

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