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Interviews with Environmental Scientists about their New Books
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New Books in Environmental Studies New Books Network

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Interviews with Environmental Scientists about their New Books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/environmental-studies

    Colin Jerolmack, "Up to Heaven and Down to Hell: Fracking, Freedom, and Community in an American Town" (Princeton UP, 2021)

    Colin Jerolmack, "Up to Heaven and Down to Hell: Fracking, Freedom, and Community in an American Town" (Princeton UP, 2021)

    Up to Heaven and Down to Hell (Princeton UP, 2021) is a vivid and sometimes heartbreaking account of what happens when one of the most momentous decisions about the well-being of our communities and our planet--whether or not to extract shale gas and oil from the very land beneath our feet--is largely a private choice that millions of ordinary people make without the public's consent.
    The United States is the only country in the world where property rights commonly extend up to heaven and down to hell, which means that landowners have the exclusive right to lease their subsurface mineral estates to petroleum companies. Colin Jerolmack spent eight months living with rural communities outside of Williamsport as they confronted the tension between property rights and the commonwealth. In this deeply intimate book, he reveals how the decision to lease brings financial rewards but can also cause irreparable harm to neighbors, to communal resources like air and water, and even to oneself.
    Up to Heaven and Down to Hell casts America's ideas about freedom and property rights in a troubling new light, revealing how your personal choices can undermine your neighbors' liberty, and how the exercise of individual rights can bring unintended environmental consequences for us all.
    Sebastián Rojas Cabal is a Ph.D. student in the Sociology Department at Princeton University.
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    • 1 u. 4 min.
    Traci Brynne Voyles, "The Settler Sea: California's Salton Sea and the Consequences of Colonialism" (U Nebraska Press, 2021)

    Traci Brynne Voyles, "The Settler Sea: California's Salton Sea and the Consequences of Colonialism" (U Nebraska Press, 2021)

    The Salton Sea is a kaleidoscope. To some people, it's a waste land, a place of death only suitable for a dumping ground. For others, it's a clarion call, a warning for what humanity faces in our anthropogenically climate changed future. For still others, it's simply home. In The Settler Sea: California's Salton Sea and the Consequences of Colonialism (U Nebraska Press, 2021) Dr. Traci Brynne Voyles, associate professor of women's and gender studies at the University of Oklahoma, argues that the this place has defied people's expectations and attempts at control for hundreds of years, and that the key to understanding the Salton Sea (and indeed, all environments) is to recognize that they never just mean one thing. Part environmental history, part work of environmental justice studies, The Settler Sea tackles topics as diverse as damming, geology, and the history of birding in southern California - it is a book as wide ranging and hard to pin down as contentious sea at its center.
    Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.
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    • 1 u. 22 min.
    John Cardina, "Lives of Weeds: Opportunism, Resistance, Folly" (Cornell UP, 2021)

    John Cardina, "Lives of Weeds: Opportunism, Resistance, Folly" (Cornell UP, 2021)

    Lives of Weeds: Opportunism, Resistance, Folly (Cornell UP, 2021) explores the tangled history of weeds and their relationship to humans. Through eight interwoven stories, John Cardina offers a fresh perspective on how these tenacious plants came about, why they are both inevitable and essential, and how their ecological success is ensured by determined efforts to eradicate them. Linking botany, history, ecology, and evolutionary biology to the social dimensions of humanity's ancient struggle with feral flora, Cardina shows how weeds have shaped—and are shaped by—the way we live in the natural world.
    Weeds and attempts to control them drove nomads toward settled communities, encouraged social stratification, caused environmental disruptions, and have motivated the development of GMO crops. They have snared us in social inequality and economic instability, infested social norms of suburbia, caused rage in the American heartland, and played a part in perpetuating pesticide use worldwide. Lives of Weeds reveals how the technologies directed against weeds underlie ethical questions about agriculture and the environment, and leaves readers with a deeper understanding of how the weeds around us are entangled in our daily choices.
    Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at galina.limorenko@epfl.ch.
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    • 1 u. 2 min.
    Ruth Mostern, "The Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History" (Yale UP, 2021)

    Ruth Mostern, "The Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History" (Yale UP, 2021)

    A three-thousand-year history of the Yellow River and the legacy of interactions between humans and the natural landscape From Neolithic times to the present day, the Yellow River and its watershed have both shaped and been shaped by human society. Using the Yellow River to illustrate the long-term effects of environmentally significant human activity, Ruth Mostern unravels the long history of the human relationship with water and soil and the consequences, at times disastrous, of ecological transformations that resulted from human decisions. As Mostern follows the Yellow River through three millennia of history, she underlines how governments consistently ignored the dynamic interrelationships of the river's varied ecosystems--grasslands, riparian forests, wetlands, and deserts--and the ecological and cultural impacts of their policies. With an interdisciplinary approach informed by archival research and GIS (geographical information system) records, this groundbreaking volume provides unique insight into patterns, transformations, and devastating ruptures throughout ecological history and offers profound conclusions about the way we continue to affect the natural systems upon which we depend.
    This scale, detail, and clarity of this work was inspiring. Ruth Mostern's long-term environmental history of the Yellow River, is not the story of a single channel but of a series of landscapes and entanglements between the human and natural world. Replete with detailed explanations of physical geography and water management technologies, The Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History (Yale UP, 2021) succeeds not only in meticulously addressing the geographical and cultural heart of Chinese history, but also in speaking to our present moment through its recurring portrayal of the relationship between environmental awareness and political possibility. 
    Lance Pursey is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Aberdeen. He works on the history and archaeology of the Liao dynasty, and therefore is drawn to complicated questions of identity in premodern China like a moth is drawn to flame. He can be reached at lance.pursey@abdn.ac.uk.
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    • 1 u. 20 min.
    Alexander Etkind, "Nature′s Evil: A Cultural History of Natural Resources" (Polity Press, 2021)

    Alexander Etkind, "Nature′s Evil: A Cultural History of Natural Resources" (Polity Press, 2021)

    In Nature′s Evil: A Cultural History of Natural Resources (Polity Press, 2021), Alexander Etkind views the history of humankind through the prism of natural resources – how we acquire them, use them, value them, trade them, exploit them. History needs a cast of characters, and in this story the leading actors are peat and hemp, grain and iron, fur and oil, each with its own tale to tell.
    The uneven spread of available resources was the prime mover for trade, which in turn led to the accumulation of wealth, the growth of inequality and the proliferation of evil. Different sorts of raw material have different political implications and give rise to different social institutions. When a country switches its reliance from one commodity to another, this often leads to wars and revolutions. But none of these crises goes to waste – they all lead to dramatic changes in the relations between matter, labour and the state.
    Our world is the result of a fragile pact between people and nature. As we stand on the verge of climate catastrophe, nature has joined us in our struggle to distinguish between good and evil. And since we have failed to change the world, now is the moment to understand how it works.
    Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at galina.limorenko@epfl.ch.
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    • 1 u. 24 min.
    Elizabeth A. Povinelli, "Between Gaia and Ground: Four Axioms of Existence and the Ancestral Catastrophe of Late Liberalism" (Duke UP, 2021)

    Elizabeth A. Povinelli, "Between Gaia and Ground: Four Axioms of Existence and the Ancestral Catastrophe of Late Liberalism" (Duke UP, 2021)

    In Between Gaia and Ground: Four Axioms of Existence and the Ancestral Catastrophe of Late Liberalism (Duke UP, 2021),  Elizabeth A. Povinelli theorizes the climatic, environmental, viral, and social catastrophe present as an ancestral catastrophe through which that Indigenous and colonized peoples have been suffering for centuries. In this way, the violence and philosophies the West relies on now threaten the West itself. Engaging with the work of Glissant, Deleuze and Guattari, Césaire, and Arendt, Povinelli highlights four axioms of existence-the entanglement of existence, the unequal distribution of power, the collapse of the event as essential to political thought, and the legacies of racial and colonial histories. She traces these axioms' inspiration in anticolonial struggles against the dispossession and extraction that have ruined the lived conditions for many on the planet. By examining the dynamic and unfolding forms of late liberal violence, Povinelli attends to a vital set of questions about changing environmental conditions, the legacies of violence, and the limits of inherited Western social theory. Between Gaia and Ground also includes a glossary of the keywords and concepts that Povinelli has developed throughout her work.
    Adam Bobeck is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Leipzig. His PhD is entitled “Object-Oriented Azadari: Shi’i Muslim Rituals and Ontology”. For more about his work, see www.adambobeck.com.
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    • 1 u.

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