Recent books on sustainability and the environment, featuring foraging: and the raising of chickens.

There are lots of ideas to get your teeth into this month, some of them literally!

Syndetics book coverNew eco homes / Manel Gutiérrez.
New Eco Homes features twenty-two sustainable homes from around the globe that showcase the newest innovations in environmentally minded home design. Inside you’ll find the latest design strategies such as various ways to use natural light and ventilation to reduce energy consumption, new methods to integrate home construction into the surrounding landscape, and the numerous recycled and green construction materials that are available today. Specific topics covered include climate regulation, drainage systems, and regional planning. Accompanying each project is a series of colorful photographs, floor plans, and detailed drawings that illustrate sustainable features… Whether you’re an architect, a designer, or a homeowner looking for new ways to update your home to make it more eco-friendly, this inspiring book is the perfect resource for creating a welcoming and sustainable home.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTwo percent solutions for the planet : 50 low-cost, low-tech, nature-based practices for combatting hunger, drought, and climate change / Courtney White ; a Quivira Coalition project.
Two Percent Solutions for the Planet profiles fifty innovative practices that soak up carbon dioxide in soils, reduce energy use, sustainably intensify food production, and increase water quality. The “two percent” refers to: the amount of new carbon in the soil needed to reap a wide variety of ecological and economic benefits; the percentage of the nation’s population who are farmers and ranchers; and the low financial cost (in terms of GDP) needed to get this work done. As White explained in Grass, Soil, Hope, a highly efficient carbon cycle captures, stores, releases, and recaptures biochemical energy, mitigating climate change, increasing water storage capacities in soil, and making green plants grow. …a wide variety of innovative ideas and methods that put carbon back into the soil have been field-tested and proven to be practical and profitable. They’re mostly low-tech, too, relying on natural resources such as sunlight, green plants, animals, compost, beavers, creeks, and more…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to thrive in the next economy : designing tomorrow’s world today / John Thackara.
“John Thackara has spent a lifetime roving the globe in search of design that serves human needs in a sustainable way. He believes that in our eagerness to find technological solutions to the big challenges faced by the human race, we have all too often ignored the astonishing creativity generated when people work together and in harmony with the world around them. Drawing on an inspiring range of examples, from a temple-led water management system in Bali that dates back hundreds of years to an innovative e-bike collective in Vienna, Thackara shows that below the radar of the mainstream media there are global communities creating a replacement economy from the ground up… Ultimately optimistic, Thackara believes that through a huge variety of quiet, piecemeal changes of thought and action, we are coming to a tipping point: the end of one civilization but the beginning of another.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBuilding a better nest : living lightly at home and in the world / Evelyn Searle Hess.
“For fifteen years, Evelyn Hess and her husband David lived in a tent and trailer, without electricity or running water, on twenty acres of wild land in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range. When they decided to build a house – a real house at last – they knew it would have to respect the lessons of simple living that they learned in their camping life… Green building and sustainable design are popular buzzwords, but to Hess, sustainable building is not a simple matter of buying and installing the latest recycled flooring products. It is also about cooperative work: working together in employment, in research, in activism, and in life. Hess is concerned with her local watershed, but also with the widening income gap, disappearing species, and peak resources… As Hess and her husband age, the questions of how to live responsibly arise with greater frequency and urgency. With unfailing wit and humor, she looks for answers in such places as neuroscience, Buddhism, and her ancestral legacy…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover365 nature : projects to connect you with nature every day / Anna Carlile.
365 Nature reveals the ways we can weave creativity, the environment and ‘wild’ fun into our everyday lives through 80 inspiring projects and activities, from sprouting your own seeds and building a birdhouse, to fashioning a dreamcatcher or making your own herbal teas. Easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions make total immersion in nature simple. Make a kite and go fly it; weave your own basket; mix natural body creams; or just be a child again – make a mess, get dirt under your fingernails, smell the rain… 365 Nature is your ticket to unhurried, unstructured, unencumbered connection with nature. So throw open the doors and let the great outdoors in!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBig world, small planet : abundance within planetary boundaries / Johan Rockström and Mattias Klum ; with Peter Miller.
Big World, Small Planet probes the urgent predicament of our times: how is it possible to create a positive future for both humanity and Earth? We have entered the Anthropocene–the era of massive human impacts on the planet–and the actions of over seven billion residents threaten to destabilize Earth’s natural systems… the authors combine the latest science with compelling storytelling and amazing photography to create a new narrative for humanity’s future. Johan Rockström and Mattias Klum… contend that we have unprecedented opportunities to navigate a “good Anthropocene.” …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 coverRooftop garden design / edited by David Fletcher.
“…Green roofs – the ultimate in sustainable building practices – continue to generate enormous interest and enthusiasm among architects, landscape designers, and urban planners. This richly illustrated book provides a comprehensive guide to contemporary trends in rooftop garden design, and provides definitive theory and design industry knowledge. …The designers provide details on the benefits of their rooftop gardens, offering readers profound inspiration and informative reviews of the work, design considerations, operation and maintenance…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRaising chickens for dummies / by Kimberly Willis with Rob Ludlow.
“This new edition of Raising Chickens For Dummies provides the most up-to-date, thorough information on the many aspects of keeping chickens in your backyard. Inside, you’ll find hands-on, easy-to-follow instructions on choosing and purchasing chickens, constructing housing for your birds, feeding your chickens for optimal health, combating laying issues, controlling pests and predators, optimizing egg production, and much more…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe thrifty forager / Alys Fowler ; photography by Simon Wheeler.
“Alys Fowler takes a fresh look at foraging, encouraging you to look closer to home, from the weeds in your garden to the trees in your street, rather than the fields and hedgerows of the countryside. Alys showcases her favourite edibles with a plant directory packed with useful information – photographic identification, plant description and tips on how to grow and how to eat it (including recipes such as fruit leathers and chutney) – that will give you the confidence to identify plants yourself. The book also features innovative ideas for eating your local landscape, from community gardens in Todmorden, UK to Edimental (edible ornamentals) gardens in Norway – this is a fastgrowing, global phenomenon that is fun, environmentally friendly and thrifty!” (Syndetics summary)

New non-fiction. Solar that really works.

New non-fic Recent Picks. Solar that really works. And two books about imprisonment, together with climate change, cities, civilisation and LEGO Technic (unofficial)

Solar that really works / by Collyn Rivers.
“This virtually all-new third edition explains, in clear English, every detail of designing and installing solar in cabins, camper trailers, caravans and motor homes. It complements the companion book Solar Success – that does the same for homes and properties of all sizes (including grid-connect)”. (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverEarthmasters : Playing God with the climate / Hamilton, Clive.
“What if there were a magic bullet to fix our ailing planet? What if it meant seizing control of Earth’s climate? Clive Hamilton investigates the huge risks of reaching for desperate measures to save the planet, explains the science accessibly and uncovers the worrying motives of those promoting them.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe meaning of freedom / Angela Y. Davis ; foreword by Robin D. G. Kelley.
“Davis, a political progressive icon of the 1960s, tackles the concept and application of freedom in the context of the twenty-first century. She focuses on the growth of the prison industry nationally and internationally, reflecting on forces of capitalism that undercut human freedom. Challenging the reader to conceive of a world without prisons, Davis champions a concept of prison abolition. Hers is not a utopian perspective but one based on historical analysis of how prisons evolved as an alternative to punishment by death and as a continuation of post-slavery racial control. …This book is a collection of Davis’ lectures from 1994 through 2009, interweaving themes of freedom and bias based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. Davis is at her best linking these perceptively separate segments into a broader concept of freedom across all the lines that separate us.–Ford, Vernon Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe end of power : from boardrooms to battlefields and churches to states, why being in charge isn’t what it used to be / Moisés Naím.
“Over the past few years, grassroots movements have redirected global conversations about power and rights, though the status quo in many cases has proved more resistant to change. Nevertheless, Naim (Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy) contends that traditional forms of power are being transformed and shifted onto new shoulders. Having served as editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy and the executive director of the World Bank, Naim knows better than most what power on a global scale looks like. He first guides readers through an understanding of “How Power Got Big,” before demonstrating the myriad ways in which the dominance of hierarchical organizations is eroding. Technological developments have empowered individuals to group together for the betterment of society, but they have also enabled extremists to wreak havoc with very few resources. …. Agent: Rafe Sagalyn, Sagalyn Literary. (Mar. 5) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA history of future cities / Daniel Brook.
“As different as the origins of St. Petersburg, Mumbai, Shanghai, and Dubai are, they share a characteristic as historical outposts of Western trade, architecture, and culture. …. If these four cities have looked outward as nodes of international commerce, at their backs in their hinterlands were always social forces and political movements with the potential to throttle the capitalist festivities. Within general narratives of when this happened the Communist revolutions in Russia and China; socialist economics in India; Brook expresses a visual sense of each city’s major streets and landmark buildings, describing and interpreting them through their builders’ ambitions for the future, be it a grand train station in colonial Bombay or the world’s tallest building in Dubai….Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe measure of civilization : how social development decides the fate of nations / Ian Morris.
“Stanford University classicist and historian Morris follows up Why the West Rules-for Now with a sophisticated volume designed to add quantitative muscle to his earlier arguments. A big-history theorist working in a vein similar to Niall Ferguson or Jared Diamond, Morris measures societies’ historical “abilities to get things done in the world.” …In the 21st century, he foresees a shift in global power and wealth from West to East, much as it shifted from East to West in the 19th. Morris argues from a materialist view to frame social development, minimizing the achievements of European civilization. His graphic display of energy use, for example, illustrates why the Industrial Revolution in Europe reshaped the economic world as no event did before it, though Morris seems more interested in Song China’s early metallurgy. …Agent: Sandra Dijkstra, Dijkstra Literary Agency. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe unofficial LEGO Technic builder’s guide / Pawel “Sariel” Kmieć.
“The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guideis filled with building tips for creating strong yet elegant machines and mechanisms with the Technic system. Author Pawel “Sairel” Kmiec will teach you the foundations of LEGO Technic building, from simple machines to advanced mechanics, even explaining how to create realistic to-scale models. Sariel, a world-renowned LEGO Technic expert, offers unique insight into mechanical principles like torque, power translation, and gear ratios, all using Technic bricks.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA time to betray : the astonishing double life of a CIA agent inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran / Reza Kahlili.
“This true spy thriller reveals the inner workings of the notorious Revolutionary Guards of Iran, as witnessed by an Iranian man inside their ranks who spied for the American government. It is a human story, a chronicle of family and friendships torn apart by a terror-mongering regime, and how the adult choices of three childhood mates during the Islamic Republic yielded divisive and tragic fates. And it is the courageous account of one man’s decades-long commitment to lead a double life informing on the beloved country of his birth, a place that once offered the promise of freedom and enlightenment–but is instead ruled by murderous violence and spirit-crushing oppression.–From publisher description”.

Syndetics book coverContrasts in punishment : an explanation of Anglophone excess and Nordic exceptionalism / John Pratt and Anna Eriksson.
“…The book argues that the penal differences that currently exist between these two clusters of societies emanate from their early nineteenth century social arrangements. The Anglophone societies were dominated by exclusionary value systems in contrast to the more inclusionary values of the Nordic. The development of their penal programmes over this two hundred year period, including the much earlier demise of the death penalty in the Nordic countries and significant differences between the respective prison rates and prison conditions of the two clusters, reflects the continuing influence of these values. Indeed, in the early 21stcentury these differences have become even more pronounced….” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHeavens on Earth : how to create mass prosperity / J. P. Floru.
Heavens on Earth offers both a manifesto for creating prosperity and a fascinating tale of global growth. It takes a sweeping view of traditions across the world and across the centuries, introducing us to the remarkable individuals who made it all happen…” (Book jacket)

A Talk about New Zealand Sea Mammals


Enderby the sea lion pup and Hector the dolphin have been our guests on the first floor of the Central Library for a while. Lent to us by the Department of Conservation, they also made a guest appearance during Louise Chilvers’ talk (DOC marine scientist) on Thursday 28 July in the Childrens’ Department. Young and old congregated to admire our marine compatriots and listen to fascinating facts and advice on how to protect our environment and do our best to help the diverse population of marine mammals we are so lucky to have on our shores.