Stories Below Sea Level: Climate Authors in Aotearoa

men say that one day
that lagoon will devour you”

dear matafele peinam, by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

Up until surprisingly recently, climate change was a neglected topic in the world of fiction. Environmentalist Bill McKibben addressed this in his 2006 essay What the Warming World Needs Now is Art, Sweet Art, pointing out the lack of impact climate change had had on fiction and art compared to previous societal challenges.

However over the last few years things have changed: books focussing on the climate emergency are being published faster than ever, including in New Zealand. Authors have taken up McKibben’s challenge to use fiction to examine the changing world around us, to spur us into action. This undertaking has extended to organisations such as Track Zero and Verb Wellington, both of which have promoted the transformational power of literature.

Yet despite climate change’s more prominent role in local fiction, another question stands out: exactly whose climate stories are being published–and whose aren’t? As Lani Wendt Young recently pointed out, in 2015 only one percent of fiction published in New Zealand was written by Pasifika writers, and only four percent by Māori. And yet Māori and Pasifika communities are disproportionately affected by climate change.

Over the next few weeks Wellington City Libraries will be releasing a series of interviews with publishers, editors and authors whose work has addressed the climate emergency in Aotearoa and the Pacific. Their work spans different genres, languages and formats, but all of them tackle climate change and its complexities. To get things started we’ve got a booklist of local climate fiction and non-fiction for you to browse–and if there’s an author or work you’d like to see included, please let us know!


Where we land / Jones, Tim
“A New Zealand Navy frigate torpedoes a boat full of refugees fleeing a drowning country and Nasimul Rahman is one of the few survivors. First he has to reach the shore alive and then he has to avoid the trigger-happy Shore Patrol, on alert to stop climate change refugees entering the country. Donna is new to the Patrol. When word comes through that the Navy has sunk a ship full of infiltrators and survivors might be making their way ashore, it sounds like she might be put to the test.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Melt / Murray, Jeff
“This novel is an urgent, crushing observation of adaptation and exclusion amidst preparation to settle Antarctica as climate destruction starts to bite. New Zealand in 2048, gateway to the melting continent, is thrust into the centre of the climate crises. Vai Shuster, the Advocate of a tiny, broken island, must find a place for her community in a world that’s not sure it needs the poor.” (Catalogue)

So many islands : stories from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific Oceans
“Giving voice to challenges and triumphs, these writers paint a vibrant portrait of what it is like to live, love and lose the things most precious to them on the small islands they call home. Voicing global issues such as climate change and nuclear testing in the Pacific – a fight close to the heart of these precariously poised islands – to petty politics and the gaps between generations, readers will find universal connections with these worlds and words.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

High water
“Eleven of New Zealand’s best cartoonists take a speculative stab at the looming threat of climate change in this thoughtful, provoking and sometimes hilarious collection. With tales ranging from washed-up celebrity polar bears, to giant post-apocalyptic crabs, High Water takes the reader on a thrilling romp through one of the most important issues of our time. Contributors include Dylan Horrocks, Sarah Laing, Chris Slane and many others.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sea change : climate politics and New Zealand / Hayward, Bronwyn
“The scientific consensus is clear: our climate is changing and action is needed urgently. Yet at the same time, it can seem that the solutions needed are too large and the problem too insurmountable. Bronwyn Hayward is an international expert on sustainability, youth politics and democracy. In Sea Change: Climate Politics and New Zealand she lays out what New Zealand and New Zealanders could do to keep the average global temperature rise under 1.5 degrees.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ruby and the blue sky / Dewar, Katherine
“Grammy night: Ruby wins ‘Best Song’ and makes an impulsive acceptance speech that excites nature lovers across the world. While Ruby and her band celebrate, an extreme evangelical sect, funded by covert paymasters, dispatches a disciple on a ruthless mission to England. As the band plays its sold-out tour, Ruby is pursued by eco-groupies insisting she use her new fame to fight climate change. Back home, Ruby must confront a challenge not even tea, beer or her mum’s veggie lasagne will make go away…” (Catalogue)

Star sailors / McNaughton, James
“In the not too distant future, the effects of climate change devastate the world and New Zealand becomes a haven for elites. When a young couple from the wrong side of the tracks gain entry into Wellington’s most exclusive gated community, it appears their troubles are over. But they find themselves divided over the identity of Sam Starsailor, an alien prophet who has washed up on a beach near New Hokitika and is said to bring warnings from another planet.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Towards a warmer world : what climate change will mean for New Zealand’s future / Meduna, Veronika
“The year 2014 was the hottest on record since we’ve begun collecting global temperature measurements in 1880. As new thresholds are breached, acclaimed RNZ science writer Veronika Meduna explores our future in a warmer world. Beginning with lessons from our ancient geological past, this BWB Text draws on current observations and increasingly sophisticated climate models to describe possible end-of-century scenarios for New Zealand.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mistory : a novel / Temple, Philip
“Following Annie’s strange death, her partner is forced to think about what he has allowed to happen to his life, his community and his country. His diary, kept during the year of The Change, reveals how the example Annie left him, and the mission of his young sister Sophie, drive him to escape the life of a bureaucratic cipher and work with the Movement in its fight to bring back a free and fair way of life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Work in the 21st century: Popular non-fiction books

Analysis of work/life balance and why modern work is making people miserable in two different books; together with a book about the history of Brexit and one about Putin’s Russia, set the tone to our non-fiction new books.

#Chill : turn off your job and turn on your life / Robinson, Bryan E
“Dr. Robinson describes himself as having once being a chain-smoking, caffeine-drinking work junkie, dogged by self-doubt with no close friends. His colleagues were breathing down his neck and didn’t really appreciate his hard work, at least that’s what he told himself. His memory got so bad members of his family wondered if he was developing early onset Alzheimer’s. He scoffed at the idea of work/life balance, yet he couldn’t stop working. He joined Workaholics Anonymous, entered therapy, and stumbled into yoga and meditation. The practice enabled him to climb out of the work stupors into a saner life.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The coddling of the American mind : how good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure / Lukianoff, Greg
“First Amendment expert Lukianoff and social psychologist Haidt argue that child-centered social attitudes dating back to the 1980s have convinced young people that their feelings are always right, and this leads not just to failure (as the subtitle has it) but free speech issues on campus and the rising polarization in politics. (they) show how the new problems on campus have their origins in three terrible ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education: what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; always trust your feelings; and life is a battle between good people and evil people.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Reason in a dark time : why the struggle against climate change failed – and what it means for our future / Jamieson, Dale
“In this book, philosopher Dale Jamieson explains what climate change is, why we have failed to stop it, and why it still matters what we do. Centered in philosophy, the volume also treats the scientific, historical, economic, and political dimensions of climate change. Our failure to prevent or even to respond significantly to climate change, Jamieson argues, reflects the impoverishment of our systems of practical reason, the paralysis of our politics, and the limits of our cognitive and affective capacities. The climate change that is underway is remaking the world in such a way that familiar comforts, places, and ways of life will disappear in years or decades rather than centuries.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

The globotics upheaval : globalization, robotics, and the future of work / Baldwin, Richard E
“Richard Baldwin explains how digital technology will bring globalization and robotics, or “globotics”, to previously unaffected professional and service sectors. Jobs will be displaced at the eruptive pace of digital technology, leading to discontent among the professional, white-collar, and service workers whose jobs are threatened. Baldwin analyzes how these rapid changes are likely to affect government policies and envisions the future of employment, predicting an increase in face-to-face interaction that will strengthen bonds in local communities.” (adapted from Catalogue)

A short history of Brexit : from brentry to backstop / O’Rourke, Kevin H.
“After all the debates, manoeuvrings, recriminations and exaltations, Brexit is upon us. But, as Kevin O’Rourke writes, Brexit did not emerge out of nowhere: it is the culmination of events that have been under way for decades and have historical roots stretching back well beyond that. Brexit has a history. ” (adapted from Catalogue)

Putin’s world : Russia against the West and with the rest / Stent, Angela
Putin’s world examines the complex panorama of the country’s turbulent past and how it has influenced Putin and the Russians’ understanding of their position on the global stage. This book looks at Russia’s key relationships — with the United States, China, Europe, NATO, Japan, the Middle East — and with Russia’s neighbors, particularly the fraught relationship with Ukraine.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Lab rats : why modern work makes people miserable / Lyons, Daniel
“Personality tests. Team-building exercises. Forced Fun. Desktop surveillance. Open-plan offices. Acronyms. Diminishing job security. Hot desking. Pointless perks. Hackathons. If any of the above sound familiar, welcome to the modern economy. In this hilarious, but deadly serious book, bestselling author Dan Lyons looks at how the world of work has slowly morphed from one of unions and steady career progression to a dystopia made of bean bags and unpaid internships.” (adapted from Catalogue)

No friend but the mountains : writing from Manus Prison / Boochani, Behrouz
“In 2013, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani was illegally detained on Manus Island. He has been there ever since. People would run to the mountains to escape the warplanes and found asylum within their chestnut forests. This book is the result. Laboriously tapped out on a mobile phone and translated from the Farsi. It is a voice of witness, an act of survival. A lyric first-hand account. A cry of resistance. A vivid portrait through five years of incarceration and exile. Do Kurds have any friends other than the mountains?” (adapted from Catalogue)

Recent books on sustainability and the environment

Thinking globally and acting locally. These titles cover topics as big as: who’s going to steer the ship on global policy around our environment? There are perspectives from scientists, activists, and politicians as they tackle the big questions while others give inspiration about what you can do in your own home to have a positive impact. Will the issues we face as a planet be solved from the top or the bottom? Or both?

Syndetics book coverPositive energy homes : creating passive houses for better living / Robin Brimblecombe and Kara Rosemeier.
“Positive energy homes enable people to live healthy and comfortable lives with energy left over to share. Creating a house you love that produces surplus energy is surprisingly easy with a thorough understanding of how buildings work and careful attention to detail in construction. Positive Energy Homes provides home owners, architects, and builders with an understanding of the principles and technical details of building these houses. The Passive House standard, with its well-proven track record, forms the basis for creating positive energy homes.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHot, hungry planet : the fight to stop a global food crisis in the face of climate change / Lisa Palmer.
“Journalist Lisa Palmer has traveled the world for years documenting the cutting-edge innovations of people and organizations on the front lines of fighting the food gap. Hot, Hungry Planet focuses on three key concepts that support food security and resilience in a changing world: social, educational, and agricultural advances; land use and technical actions by farmers; and policy nudges that have the greatest potential for reducing adverse environmental impacts of agriculture while providing more food.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe food forest handbook : design and manage a home-scale perennial polyculture garden / by Darrell Frey & Michelle Czolba.
“A food forest is a productive landscape developed around a mix of trees and perennials. Rooted in permaculture principles, this integrated approach to gardening incorporates a variety of plants such as fruit and nut trees, shrubs, vines, and perennial herbs and vegetables… The Food Forest Handbook is a practical manual for the design and management of a home-scale perennial polyculture garden.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe seasons alter : how to save our planet in six acts / Philip Kitcher and Evelyn Fox Keller.
“Philip Kitcher and Evelyn Fox Keller tackle some of the thorniest questions facing mankind today: Is climate change real? Is climate change as urgent as the “scientists” make it out to be? How much of our current way of life should we sacrifice to help out a generation that won’t even be born for another hundred years? Who would pay for the enormous costs of making the planet “green?” What sort of global political arrangement would be needed for serious action?…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClimate of hope : how cities, businesses, and citizens can save the planet / Michael Bloomberg, Carl Pope.
“From Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former head of the Sierra Club Carl Pope comes a manifesto on how the benefits of taking action on climate change are concrete, immediate, and immense… In Climate of Hope, Bloomberg and Pope offer an optimistic look at the challenge of climate change, the solutions they believe hold the greatest promise, and the practical steps that are necessary to achieve them. Writing from their own experiences, and sharing their own stories from government, business, and advocacy, Bloomberg and Pope provide a road map for tackling the most complicated challenge the world has ever faced.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClient Earth / Martin Goodman and James Thornton ; with a foreword by Brian Eno.
“Who will stop the planet from committing ecological suicide? …Whoever, environmental laws need to be enforceable and enforced. Step forward a fresh breed of passionately purposeful environmental lawyers. They provide new rules to legislatures, see that they are enforced, and keep us informed. They tackle big business to ensure money flows into cultural change, because money is the grammar of business just as science is the grammar of nature. At the head of this new legal army stands James Thornton, who takes governments to court, and wins. And his client is the Earth.” –Publisher’s description, adapted. (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe energy wise workplace : practical and cost-effective ideas for a sustainable and green workplace / Jeff Dondero.
“Although many people desire to do their part and play a role in the conservation of energy and resources at their workplace most think that it is harder to conserve at work due to circumstances beyond their control, and aren’t aware of how, which or in what ways they can contribute to change… The Energy Wise Workplace provides practical suggestions and innovative ways for increasing the environmental and technological aspects of an efficient office, as well as improving productivity and work environment to keep employees happy and healthy and at the same time saving money.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreywater, green landscape : how to install simple water-saving irrigation systems in your yard / Laura Allen.
“Keep your lawn and garden lush without wasting resources by capturing and recycling the greywater that drains from your sink, shower, and washing machine. This accessible and detailed guide walks you through each step of planning for and installing a variety of greywater systems, including laundry-to-landscape and branched drain gravity-fed systems. After identifying greywater sources in your home and estimating flow rate, you’ll learn to pinpoint where to redirect the wastewater for the greatest benefit. No matter which system you decide to build, you’ll have the information to construct it yourself or move forward with confidence to hire a professional.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverConfessions of a recovering environmentalist / Paul Kingsnorth.
“Paul Kingsnorth was once an activist, an ardent environmentalist. He fought against rampant development and the depredations of a corporate world that seemed hell-bent on ignoring a looming climate crisis in its relentless pursuit of profit. But as the environmental movement began to focus on ‘sustainability’ rather than the defence of wild places for their own sake and as global conditions worsened, he grew disenchanted with the movement that he once embraced. Provocative and urgent, iconoclastic and fearless, this ultimately hopeful book poses hard questions about how we have lived and should live.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNo dig organic home & garden : grow, cook, use & store your harvest / Charles Dowding & Stephanie Hafferty.
“No dig organic gardening saves time and work. It requires an annual dressing of compost to help accelerate the improvement in soil structure and leads to higher fertility and less weeds. No dig experts Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty, explain how to set up a no dig garden, including how to: * Make compost and enrich soil * Learn skills you need to sow and grow annual and perennial veg * Harvest and prepare food year round * Make natural cosmetics, cleaning products, and garden preparations.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Recent books on sustainability and the environment

Two ‘how-to’ books on permaculture begin this post, and we end with a book about the heroes working today to mitigate climate change, to secure a sustainable future for us and for our children.

Syndetics book coverThe permaculture promise : what permaculture is and how it can help us reverse climate change, build a more resilient future on Earth, and revitalize our communities / Jono Neiger ; foreword by Toby Hemenway.
“Permaculture is a design system that offers practical ideas for how humans can simultaneously provide for ourselves and regenerate the natural world. Here are 22 ways that permaculture can help us achieve that goal, brought to life through profiles of people and communities who are already taking the permaculture path. This groundbreaking approach moves beyond sustainability, connecting all the systems of human life, including gardening, housing, transportation, energy, and how we structure our communities.” (Cover)

Syndetics book coverThe permaculture transition manual : a comprehensive guide to resilient living / Ross Mars ; foreword by Rob Hopkins.
“Caught between climate change and a fossil fuel-driven economy that demands ever more growth, the world faces a great transition–by design or disaster–away from fossil fuels to a less energy intensive future. …For the first time, the power of permaculture design has been brought to bear on the great transition problem. In the process, acclaimed permaculture teacher and designer Ross Mars has distilled his considerable knowledge into the ultimate resource for resilient living. The Permaculture Transition Manual is packed with information on permaculture design principles, soil building, nutrient-dense food growing, including top plant and tree selections for all climatic zones…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNatural designs : contemporary organic upcycling : 20 DIY designer projects / Aurelie Drouet.
“…Nature has always been a source of inspiration for designers, and this book offers readers the chance to create furniture and everyday objects with raw materials from mineral to plant. Enjoy a walk in the woods, or beachcomb by sea to unleash your imagination and bring a little nature into your home. From cork hanging lights, a slate desk to a natural wool pouffe and a birch coat stand, discover simple and elegant ideas that you can make yourself. There’s no need to be an experienced handyman to realize these original designs: this book presents 20 creations with step-by-step photos, plans and technical tips.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSeagan eating : the lure of a healthy, sustainable seafood + vegan diet / Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey.
“In this first-of-its-kind seagan guidebook, you’ll find all the tips and tools you need to jumpstart your healthy, delicious plant-and seafood-based diet- – More than 66 simple, decadent, oil-free seagan and vegan recipes – including three weeks of menus – A buying guide to the healthiest, most sustainable seafood – Must-have kitchen staples, plus recipe hacks to make prep fast and easy – Advice for navigating today’s confusing food trends, like GMOs, organic versus nonorganic, tricky ingredient labels, and ‘superfoods'” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Image from Amazon.comGrown & gathered / by Matt & Lentil.
“In Grown & Gathered, Matt and Lentil Pubrick’s first book, they tell you all that they know about growing, gathering, nurturing and cooking your own food. The first part of the book is Matt and Lentil’s guide to producing your own food. The information, advice and projects can be used whether you have a 3-acre block or a courtyard with planter boxes. The Grow chapter shows you how to grow vegetables and fruit in whatever space you have, using the most earth-friendly practices; Gather explains how to forage for things like mushrooms, native greens and wild fruits; Nurture provides guidance on raising your own animals, from chickens and bees to cows. The second part of the book features over 100 delicious, nourishing and creative wholefood recipes. There’s a host of staples, everything from how to prepare and sprout grains in a traditional way, to making and maintain a sourdough culture, and techniques and recipes for preserving and pickling.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrugal innovation : how to do better with less / Navi Radjou and Jaideep Prabhu ; [foreword by Paul Polman].
“With an estimated trillion-dollar global market for sustainable products, and with potentially huge cost savings to be gained, frugal innovation is revolutionising business and reshaping management thinking. Based on the authors’ six key principles of frugal innovation, and packed with targeted advice and recommendations for business functions such as R&D, operations, HR and sales, Frugal Innovation is a masterclass in the art of doing more with less.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLiving on one acre or less : how to produce all the fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and eggs your family needs / Sally Morgan.
“You don’t need a huge parcel of land to start your own mini-farm and live more self-sufficiently. With an acre, or even a half-acre, you can juggle a job, family, and still grow fruit and veg and even have some chickens, pigs or sheep. Morgan takes the reader through the basics of a starting your own homestead, including planning and setting up, growing your own fruit and vegetables, keeping chickens, pigs and sheep– all while making use of sustainable and organic principles. This inspirational book is perfect for anyone who aspires to take control of their food supply, or who wants to do more with the land they’ve got.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA beekeeper’s year : setting up and managing backyard hives / Janet Luke.
A Beekeeper’s Year follows the progress of three novice beekeepers with three different types of hive, as they navigate their way through their first year of beekeeping. Follow their journey as they set up and manage their Top Bar, Warr#65533; and Flow hives – from obtaining bees to inspecting their hives, extracting honey and closing down the hive for the winter. A Beekeeper’s Year is an ideal introduction to backyard beekeeping, with everything you need to know about what equipment is required, managing your hives, keeping your bees healthy and pest and disease control. It is packed with stunning yet practical photographs to help you understand these fascinating creatures that are essential to the production of our food.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProtecting the planet : environmental champions from conservation to climate change / Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger.
“Climate change is often associated with predictions of dire calamities. But in the past, heroic individuals have stepped forward to meet even the most ominous ecological challenges. This book tells an inspirational story–a story both of pioneering environmentalists who raised our collective consciousness regarding nature’s value and heroes of today who are working to secure a sustainable future. The authors begin with the mounting evidence for climate change as seen in rising carbon dioxide levels, higher global temperatures, melting ice sheets, and sea level rise. They conclude with a set of actionable strategies, demonstrating that there are good reasons to hope that we can achieve a sustainable lifestyle, protect our planet as our home, and ensure the future for our children.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Popular non-fiction in January

A book of beautifully drawn city maps tops our list this month. It’s followed by the New York Times bestseller, longlisted for the National Book Award, Between the world and me. There is a light note too, with the reprint of Bill Bryson’s Made in America.

Syndetics book coverMetropolis : mapping the city / Jeremy Black ; contributing editor, Christopher Westhorp.
“The city: a place of hopes and dreams, destruction and conflict, vision and order. The first city atlas, the Civitates Orbis Terrarum , was published by Braun and Hogenburg in 1572 for the armchair traveller interested in a world that was opening up around him. Since then our fascination with foreign cities has not abated. This sumptuous volume looks at the development of the mapping and representation of the city revealing how we organize the urban space.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBetween the world and me / Ta-Nehisi Coates.
“In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men–bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBig world, small planet : abundance within planetary boundaries / Johan Rockström and Mattias Klum ; with Peter Miller.
“Johan Rockström and Mattias Klum reject the notion that economic growth and human prosperity can only be achieved at the expense of the environment. They contend that we have unprecedented opportunities to navigate a “good Anthropocene.” By embracing a deep mind-shift, humanity can reconnect to Earth, discover universal values, and take on the essential role of planetary steward. With eloquence and profound optimism, Rockström and Klum envision a future of abundance within planetary boundaries–a revolutionary future that is at once necessary, possible, and sustainable for coming generations.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDon’t even think about it : why our brains are wired to ignore climate change / George Marshall.
“Most of us recognize that climate change is real, and yet we do nothing to stop it. Marshall argues that the answers do not lie in the things that make us different and drive us apart, but rather in what we all share… Once we understand what excites, threatens, and motivates us, we can rethink and reimagine climate change, for it is not an impossible problem. In the end, Don’t Even Think About It is both about climate change and about the qualities that make us human and how we can grow as we deal with the greatest challenge we have ever faced.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Bloomsbury reader on Islam in the West / edited by Edward E. Curtis IV.
“For more than a millennium, Islam has been a vital part of Western civilization. Today, however, it is sometimes assumed that Islam is a foreign element inside the West, and even that Islam and the West are doomed to be in perpetual conflict… The Reader explores not only the presence of Muslim religious practitioners in Europe and the Americas but also the impact of Islamic ideas and Muslims on Western politics, societies, and cultures. It is ideal for use in the university classroom, with an extensive introduction by Edward E. Curtis IV and a timeline of key events in the history of Islam in the West…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMade in America : an informal history of the English language in the United States / Bill Bryson.
“Bill Bryson, bestselling author of The Mother Tongue, now celebrates its magnificent offspring in the book that reveals once and for all how a dusty western hamlet with neither woods nor holly came to be known as Hollywood . . . and exactly why Mr. Yankee Doodle called his befeathered cap “Macaroni.” (Syndetics summary) (Reprint)

Syndetics book coverPostCapitalism : a guide to our future / Paul Mason.
“Over the past two centuries or so, capitalism has undergone continual change – economic cycles that lurch from boom to bust – and has always emerged transformed and strengthened. Surveying this turbulent history, Paul Mason wonders whether today we are on the brink of a change so big, so profound, that this time capitalism itself, the immensely complex system by which entire societies function, has reached its limits and is changing into something wholly new…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy are we waiting? : the logic, urgency, and promise of tackling climate change / Nicholas Stern.
“The risks of climate change are potentially immense. The benefits of taking action are also clear: we can see that economic development, reduced emissions, and creative adaptation go hand in hand. Stern argues that the risks and costs of climate change are worse than estimated in the landmark Stern Review in 2006 — and far worse than implied by standard economic models. The science warns of the dangers of neglect; the economics and technology show what we can do and the great benefits that will follow; an examination of the ethics points strongly to a moral imperative for action. Why are we waiting?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy we think the things we think : philosophy in a nutshell / Alain Stephen.
“Have you ever found yourself alone with your thoughts? Have you ever been asked if the glass is half full or half empty? Do you wonder what true happiness is or how to attain it? Or maybe nothing really matters if everything is just an illusion or a dream? Author Alain Stephen seeks to explore some of these key questions by tracing their origins in the writings of prominent thinkers through the ages, from the colonnades of ancient Greece to the intellectual salons of twentieth-century France, and show how these ideas and concepts have developed over time…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKilling the host : how financial parasites and debt bondage destroy the global economy / Michael Hudson.
KILLING THE HOST exposes how finance, insurance and real estate (the FIRE sector) have gained control of the global economy at the expense of industrial capitalism and governments. The FIRE sector is responsible for todays economic polarization (the 1% vs. the 99%) via favored tax status that inflates real estate prices while deflating the real economy of labor and production. The Great 2008 Bailout saved the banks but not the economy. This book describes how the phenomenon of debt deflation imposes austerity on the U.S. and European economies, siphoning wealth and income upward to the financial sector while impoverishing the middle class.” (Syndetics summary)

Some brand new books with “green” credentials – sustainability & environment picks

Here are some brand new books that cover environmental topics — and especially focus on sustainability and the environment. These titles show-case subjects as diverse as green fashion and green living, and we’ve also included a Graphic novel on climate change for your reading enjoyment! Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverSustainable revolution : permaculture in ecovillages, urban farms, and communities worldwide / Juliana Birnbaum & Louis Fox.
“Urban gardeners. Seed-saving collectives. Intentional communities. Renewable energy innovators and proponents of gift economies. How are these seemingly disparate groups connected? Based on common ethics of sustainable cultures throughout history, the ecological design systems of permaculture is the common thread that weaves them into a powerful, potentially revolutionary – or evolutionary – movement. Sustainable Revolution features photographs, interviews, and essays profiling 60 thriving community-based projects in diverse climates across the planet. Contributors include: David Holmgren, Vandana Shiva, Charles Eisenstein, Starhawk, Erik Assadourian, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Albert Bates, and Geoff Lawton.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWear no evil : how to change the world with your wardrobe / Greta Eagan.
“Fashion stylist Eagan, founder of FashionMeGreen.com, offers an eye-opening tome on the devastating impact of the fashion industry on the environment. As the author explains, 13.1 million tons of textile waste goes into this nation’s landfills each year (95% of it recyclable); 1,800 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pair of jeans; and 20,000 annual deaths worldwide can be attributed to the pesticides used in growing the textiles needed to support the industry. Eagan makes a convincing case for rethinking our buying habits, and provides a concise guide for identifying sustainable choices.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA place in the sun : green living and the solar home / Stephen Snyder ; introduction by John Hix.
“These environmentally responsible, perfectly designed solar-powered houses will inspire readers to see their homes as places that can blend sustainability and beauty. The book vividly demonstrates that living green does not have to mean sacrificing comfort and living with less. In truth, it is living with so much more-peace of mind, better health, and the elegance of sustainable design that maximizes natural lighting, natural ventilation, and natural textures and materials and puts an emphasis on craftsmanship.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPlastic purge : how to use less plastic, eat better, keep toxins out of your body, and help save the sea turtles! / Michael SanClements.
“Plastics. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. SanClements knows this to be true, based on a failed experiment to go two weeks without buying anything made of plastic or creating any plastic waste. From the alarm clock smacked upon awakening to the toothbrush used before going to bed, it is nearly impossible to go more than a minute without encountering plastic in some aspect of daily life. How did this invention, which has been around for little more than a century, become so ubiquitous? If the island of plastic garbage floating in the Pacific is any indication, will our planet eventually succumb to its tenacity?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe soil will save us! : how scientists, farmers, and foodies are healing the soil to save the planet / Kristin Ohlson.
“Thousands of years of poor farming and ranching practices — and, especially, modern industrial agriculture — have led to the loss of up to 80 percent of carbon from the world’s soils. That carbon is now floating in the atmosphere, and even if we stopped using fossil fuels today, it would continue warming the planet. In The Soil Will Save Us, journalist and bestselling author Kristin Ohlson makes an elegantly argued, passionate case for “our great green hope”—a way in which we can not only heal the land but also turn atmospheric carbon into beneficial soil carbon—and potentially reverse global warming.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe big tiny : a built-it-myself memoir / Dee Williams.
“Living with a smaller footprint both in consumption and square feet has been a growing trend, especially given the current economy. Williams, a consultant and educator with Portland Alternative Dwellings, chronicles her transition from typical homeownership-with renovations, repairs, and costs-to a simpler life in an 84-square-foot house. While the publisher bills this book as how-to and memoir, the material is more biography than building guide. The author’s stories are entertaining and create a fine read, however, she offers no real instruction or construction details.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe backyard homestead book of building projects / Spike Carlsen.
“The idea of a “hoop greenhouse” might initially conjure images of a graduated pile of Hula Hoops draped in some expensive plastic. In reality, with PVC pipe, plastic sheeting, a little lumber, and maybe the help of a friend, months of growing season can be added to the year with this simple, reusable hothouse. …If sustainable living is desirable, but you don’t know where to start, Carlsen, former executive editor of Family Handyman, covers it all, from tool safety to the final product with plenty of instruction and illustrations requiring a day or a weekend. Most projects can be accomplished by the novice woodworker and require few tools beyond those found in the average garage or shed. From drip irrigation systems to the DIY beehive to the more elaborate yard shed, this book may appeal to those who want a sustainable lifestyle, or who just want a backyard project.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClimate changed : a personal journey through the science / Philippe Squarzoni ; introduction by Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska Regional Director, The Wilderness Society ; translated by Ivanka Hahnenberger.
“After suddenly realizing that he couldn’t coherently discuss climate change because he didn’t understand the underlying science, the author, a French artist and human rights observer, whose previous books include several nonfiction graphic novels, set out to investigate the subject. Framed as a personal exploration, Squarzoni details the issues involved, from the basic principles behind our climate models to the impact that climate change will have on the Earth and humanity” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPoison spring : the secret history of pollution and the EPA / E.G. Vallianatos with McKay Jenkins.
“Like biologist Rachel Carson, Vallianatos (Harvest of Devastation), former staff scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Jenkins (Cornelius Tilghman Professor of English, Journalism & Environmental Humanities, Univ. of Delaware; What’s Gotten into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World) sound the alarm about toxins in common use. Vallianatos, who worked at the EPA to regulate pesticides, details a failure to safeguard the U.S. environment or defend public health.” (adapted from Syndeetics summary)

New non-fiction books: The Models edition…

New non-fiction books, including “52 models to explain our world”; and a model created “for developing economies to achieve success and sustainability”.

Syndetics book coverBeyond the Arab spring : authoritarianism & democratization in the Arab world / Rex Brynen … [et al.].
“”The popular uprisings that shook the Arab world in 2011 were remarkable both in their scope and in their intensity. They unleashed decades of frustration by popular forces and average citizens who had been thwarted in the realization of their sociopolitical and economic aspirations by brutal dictatorial regimes, many of which were staunch allies of the West. Appeals for dignity, justice, and accountability were common themes of all of these uprisings. In countries like Tunisia and Egypt, Western-supported dictatorships were overthrown mostly by peaceful means, while in Libya and Yemen regime change came through violence. Arab monarchies in the Gulf, such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, have so far withstood popular uprisings among their own populations by resorting to violence and brute force. … Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe quest for prosperity : how developing economies can take off / Justin Yifu Lin.
“”Here, Lin, … a former chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank, explains here in detail the model he created there for developing economies to achieve success and sustainability. …Within Lin’s model, much of the power to make decisions about both capital (e.g., the ability to choose from whom to borrow) and industry (e.g., the ability to encourage certain sectors or businesses) belongs to developing nations. The book is well organized and thus it is easy for readers to find information discussed throughout the book as a whole. VERDICT Lin’s use of history and popular culture metaphors make complex economic concepts more accessible to lay readers, especially in his analysis of global economics…. Meghan -Dowell, New York (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover2052 : a global forecast for the next forty years / Jorgan Randers.
“”In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Limits to Growth (CH, Nov’73), Randers …forecasts changes in population, consumption, energy use, emissions, quality of life, and climate over the next 40 years. …Regional scenarios highlight the distribution of benefits and costs from climate change across the globe, underscoring the distinct consequences on the developed and developing world. The author emphasizes that shortsighted decision making associated with democracy is ill suited to handle climate change, given its long-term outcomes. A novel feature of this work is the inclusion of predictions from more than two dozen experts…(and) are woven into the larger story to provide comparison with the author’s predictions. … K. S. Evans St. Lawrence UniversityCopyright American Library Association, used with permission.” (CHOICE)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great convergence : Asia, the West, and the logic of one world / Kishore Mahbubani.
“The world is coming together with a reconfiguration of power that the West should accommodate, …Mahbubani surveys hopeful statistics on global peace and prosperity, showing that wars are growing less frequent while poverty worldwide is declining and trade, education, tourism, and the middle class are swelling. That “new global civilization,” he contends, creates new problems: global warming; alienation in the Muslim world; anxieties over China’s influence; most of all, the West’s continuing disproportionate power over international institutions and failure to adjust self-interested policies… to global needs. …Agent: Janklow & Nesbit. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) ” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe economics book / [Niall Kishtainy, consultant editor ; George Abbot … [et al.], contributors].
“”*Starred Review* … The Economics Book takes a unique approach to elucidating this often murky subject through well-written entries. Arranged by both subtopic and time frame, the history of economic theory, notable world events, and biographies of key players are presented in six chapters… The book’s brilliance lies in its packaging of economic theory into easily digestible essays (e.g. The Economy is a Yo-Yo: Boom and Bust ; Make the Polluter Pay: External Costs ; Crowds Breed Collective Insanity: Economic Bubbles ). Overall, this book will make economics not only accessible but potentially even fascinating to a wide range of readers at and above a high-school reading level.–Michaelson, Jennifer Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOverheated : the human cost of climate change / Andrew T. Guzman.
“”Guzman offers a clearly written explanation of the devastating effects of global climate change on human society. Even the optimistic prediction of a two-degree rise in temperature, he explains, will have profound negative effects on humans and the environment. Rising sea levels will cause the disappearance of some Pacific island nations, as well as losses of land along low-lying coastal nations such as Bangladesh. Salt-water seepage into fresh-water supplies will also affect agricultural production. Millions of hungry, thirsty, displaced refugees will destabilize already weak governments and menace others in what the author describes as climate wars. Guzman also scrutinizes the spread of infectious diseases and global pandemics likely to arise and be compounded by the warming climate…. VERDICT This fact-filled, thought-provoking book will appeal to general readers and offers insight on a complex topic.-Patricia Ann Owens, Illinois Eastern Community Colleges (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe change book / Mikael Krogerus & Roman Tschäppeler ; translated by Jenny Piening ; with illustrations by Philip Earnhart and Dag Grødal.
“52 models to explain our world…. Drawing on expert advice and often complex theories, the authors of the bestselling Decision Book present 52 simple and effective models to help us make sense of change in our world. It is happening all around us, in every sphere from the personal and political to economics and the environment. In The Change Book you’ll find models explaining the financial crisis, why biotechnology is the industry of the future and why cities are the new nations. Whether you’re buying a new car, deciding who to vote for, or making an investment, this smart little black book will offer surprisingly simple explanations of our complicated world – and radically challenge some of your preconceived ideas.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe future / Al Gore.
“”Former Vice President Gore draws links and offers cautionary advice for individuals and governments alike in this exhaustive, historically-grounded argument about six concepts that he believes will exert the greatest influence on humanity’s future. The global economy, the proliferation of the Internet and intelligent machines, a shift in the balance of global power, unsustainable growth and consumption, the rise of biotechnology, and the relationship between man and Earth’s ecological systems are the broad areas explored here. With echoes of his previous books’ calls for restrained consumption and the reestablishment of a “healthy and balanced relationship” between humanity and the natural world, Gore makes the seemingly contradictory argument that a properly restrained democratic capitalism “can serve the world better than any other economic system.”… Agent: Andrew Wylie, The Wylie Agency. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPower systems : conversations on global democratic uprisings and the new challenges to U.S. empire : interviews with David Barsamian / Noam Chomsky.
“”For decades, famed MIT linguist and political critic Chomsky has provided a sober perspective on U.S. policy. In this set of interviews (from 2010 to 2012) with journalist Barsamian (director of Alternative Radio), Chomsky (Hegemony or Survival) cuts through bipartisan centrism while exploring such urgent concerns as the power shift from sovereign nations to multinational corporate entities, “from the global workforce to the owners of the world: transnational capital, global financial institutions.” (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFortress Europe : dispatches from a gated continent / Matthew Carr.
“In this expose of European immigration policy and its devastating effects, British journalist Carr… investigates the “contradictory character” of the 1985 Schengen Agreement, which opened borders between 25 European states with the idealistic aim of transforming the European Union into a common “‘area of freedom, security, and justice.'” However, according to Carr, Schengen required countries on the outer edge to seal their borders against unwanted visitors and enforce the E.U.’s immigration restrictions to address concerns about national security…. Carr travels to remote borderlands of Poland, Spain, Greece, and Malta; Schengen-bordering countries like Turkey and Morocco that collaborate in enforcement; and the heart of western Europe and Britain to meet immigrants stuck in remote detention centers or “living rough” on city streets for years, as well as temporary workers and sex slaves abused by their handlers and abandoned by governments. But Carr also depicts ordinary Europeans who have gone to great lengths to help these stranded travelers. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover50 ways to protect your identity in a digital age : new financial threats you need to know and how to avoid them / Steve Weisman.
“”It is better to stop identity theft from happening in the first place than have to fix or repair the situation afterwards. Steve Weisman reveals the threats of new identity theft attacks based on use of Facebook, iPad, iPhone, Android, cloud apps, iPod, and other new technologies — and shows you how to protect yourself, or how to fix the damage if you’ve already been attacked! Discover why ID theft is more dangerous than ever, and discover today’s most dangerous new threats…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)”

China’s silent army : the pioneers, traders, fixers and workers who are remaking the world in Beijing’s image / Juan Pablo Cardenal and Heriberto Araújo ; translated by Catherine Mansfield ; photographs by Luis de las Alas.
China’s Silent Army is a revealing and gripping piece of investigative journalism into the unknown extent of China’s global power, from China-based reporters Juan Pablo Cardenal and Heriberto Araújo. This book stems from the remarkable, determined work of these two China-based journalists who, frustrated by the facile, pro-business commentary of so much writing on China and the evasions of Beijing’s official pronouncements, took a drastic decision: to see for themselves just how rapidly China is spreading its influence around the world. Many thousands of miles and twenty-five countries later, China’s Silent Army is the result: an unprecedented attempt to meet the many Chinese who, through hard work, ingenuity and ruthless business practices are rapidly moving much of the world into Beijing’s orbit. ….” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Is the world really warming?

New books on Climate Change

Syndetics book coverEconomic choices in a warming world / Christian de Perthuis.
“Since the publication of the Stern Review, economists have started to ask more normative questions about climate change. Should we act now or tomorrow? What is the best theoretical carbon price to reach long-term abatement targets? How do we discount the long-term costs and benefits of climate change? This provocative book argues that these are the wrong sorts of questions to ask because they don’t take into account the policies that have already been implemented. Instead, it urges us to concentrate on existing policies and tools by showing how the development of carbon markets could dramatically reduce world greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, triggering policies to build a new low-carbon energy system while restructuring the way agriculture interacts with forests.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA world without ice / Henry Pollack ; [foreword by Al Gore].
“This is a book about ice and people – the impact of ice on Earth, its climate, and its human residents, as well as the reciprocal impact that people are now having on ice and the climate. With clarity and insight, geophysicist Henry Pollack paints a compelling portrait of the delicate geological balance between Earth and its ice, and shows why the current rapid loss of ice portends serious consequences in our not-so-distant future…. In accessible and engaging prose, A World Without Ice explains why ice matters, how we humans are dramatically changing this critical, sustaining component of our global environment…. answers the most urgent questions about this pending crisis, and lays out the actions we must take to avoid grave repercussions on the planet we call home. Book jacket.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHot : living through the next fifty years on earth / Mark Hertsgaard.
“”Mark Hertsgaard is the master of a kind of travelogue reporting that lets you understand possibilities and problems in a deep way. But this time, one of the places he’s traveling to is the near future, and the news he brings back is equal parts scary, invigorating, and full of challenge. This is an important book.”–Bill McKibben.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHigh tide : the truth about our climate crisis / Mark Lynas.High Tide: The Truth about Our Climate Crisis
“A glacier disappears high in the Peruvian Andes. Floodwaters surge across the English countryside. Ten thousand Pacific Islanders begin to evacuate their homeland. A dust storm turns day into night across the Inner Mongolian plains. These events may seem unrelated, but they are not. Even as scientists and other experts debate the specifics, climate crisis is already affecting the lives of millions. In this ground-breaking book, Mark Lynas reveals the first evidence–collected during an epic three-year journey across five continents–about how global warming is hitting people’s lives all around the world.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDiet for a hot planet : the climate crisis at the end of your fork and what you can do about it / Anna Lappé ; with a foreword by Bill McKibben.
“A crucial piece of the conversation about climate change, “Diet for a Hot Planet” makes the disturbing connection between food production and global warming. Food can be a powerful starting point for solutions to global environmental problems.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great disruption : how the climate crisis will transform the global economy / Paul Gilding.
“It’s time to stop just worrying about climate change, says Paul Gilding. Instead we need to brace for impact, because global crisis is no longer avoidable. The ‘Great Disruption’ started in 2008, with spiking food and oil prices and dramatic ecological change like the melting polar icecap. It is not simply about fossil fuels and carbon footprints. We have come to the end of Economic Growth, Version 1.0, a world economy based on consumption and waste, where we lived beyond the means of our planet’s ecosystems and resources…. Gilding tells us how to fight, and win, what he calls ‘the One Degree War’ to prevent catastrophic warming of the earth, and how to start today…. And, yes, there is life after shopping.” (Syndetics)