Recent books about Sustainability and the Environment

This time we feature a book about David Oien, who decided to stand up to corporate agribusiness by growing organic lentils, and who now leads a group of farmers who have formed the successful “Timeless Natural Food”.
Other topics covered in this issue are; sustainable housing; designed landscapes; developing an ecosystem, whatever size, to live in; naturally bug-free gardening and what happened when the author “threw it all in for a peaceful life in the country…”

Syndetics book coverSustainable : houses with small footprints / Avi Friedman.
“…Sustainable presents forty-five houses that demonstrate how architects have implemented sustainable design concepts around the world. These projects show us what time-tested vernacular design principles–including local materials, natural ventilation strategies, and earth shelter construction–can teach us, as well as how the latest cutting-edge technologies–such as indoor farming and “living walls” made of plant material–can make truly sustainable design possible. The variety and ingenuity of the projects featured here make Sustainable a uniquely coherent and authoritative volume on sustainable residential design.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe water-wise home : how to conserve, capture, and reuse water in your home and landscape / Laura Allen.
“…environmental science expert Allen has crafted a user-friendly guidebook that covers every angle of home water use and plumbing. In addition to steering readers through the basics of setting up composting toilets and rainwater catchment systems, the author also covers the installation of a piping system that makes invaluable use of greywater; that is, water from showers, sinks and washing machines that would otherwise go down the drain. Allen shows how greywater diversion can irrigate plants and trees, and she provides critical advice on appeasing skeptical neighbors and health authorities.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe age of sustainable development / Jeffrey D. Sachs ; foreword by Ban Ki-Moon.
“Sachs… surveys the great dilemma facing civilization: how to ensure broadly inclusive economic growth, especially in the poorest countries, without destroying the natural environment and deranging the climate on which survival depends. Deploying clear, straightforward prose and a wealth of statistics … he follows the threads of this knotty problem from their scientific and economic roots to their potential solutions in new technologies and a mix of market dynamics and vigorous government action. Sachs balances alarming forecasts with signs of progress, giving brief, even-handed rundowns of policy prescriptions such as carbon taxes, foreign aid to help Africa escape its “poverty trap,” and reforms of America’s hideously expensive private health-care system.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLentil underground : renegade farmers and the future of food in America / Liz Carlisle.
“Forty years ago, corporate agribusiness launched a campaign to push small grain farmers to modernize or perish – ‘Get big or get out.’ But twenty-seven-year-old David Oien decided to take a stand. When he dropped out of grad school to return to his family’s 280-acre farm, Oien became the first in his conservative Montana country to seed his fields with a radically different crop: organic lentils… Today, David Oien leads a thriving movement of organic farmers who work with heirloom seeds and biologically diverse farm systems. Under the brand name Timeless Natural Food, this ‘lentil underground’ has grown into a million-dollar enterprise that sells to hundreds of independent natural food stores and a host of renowned restaurants.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLandscape and urban design for health and well-being : using healing, sensory and therapeutic gardens / Gayle Souter-Brown.
“…Gayle Souter-Brown explores the social, economic and environmental benefits of developing greenspace for health and well-being. She examines the evidence behind the positive effects of designed landscapes, and explains effective methods and approaches which can be put into practice by those seeking to reduce costs and add value through outdoor spaces. Using principles from sensory, therapeutic and healing gardens, Souter-Brown focuses on landscape’s ability to affect health, education and economic outcomes…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDirty chick : adventures of an unlikely farmer / Antonia Murphy.
“…Sitting in traffic on your morning commute, with a day of staring at a screen and answering emails ahead of you, you catch yourself wondering: what if I threw it all in for a peaceful life in the country? Antonia Murphy knows the feeling – and she did something about it. Swapping deadlines for feeding times, traffic jams for homemade cheese, Antonia transplanted her husband and children to a small farm in rural New Zealand. But it turns out that collecting your own organic eggs isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe nourishing homestead : one back-to-the land family’s plan for cultivating soil, skills, and spirit / Ben Hewitt with Penny Hewitt.
“…The Nourishing Homestead tells the story of how we can create truly satisfying, permanent, nourished relationships to the land, nature, and one another. The Hewitts offer practical ways to grow nutrient-dense food on a small plot of land, and think about your farm, homestead, or home as an ecosystem. …what they have gleaned is readily transferable to any place — whether you live on 4 acres, 40 acres, or in a 400-square-foot studio apartment…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe naturally bug-free garden : controlling pest insects without chemicals / Anna Hess.
“…the Naturally Bug-Free Garden will show you how to bring your garden ecosystem into balance so that beneficial insects and larger animals do the work of pest control for you. Anna Hess has had seven years of experience growing all of her family’s vegetables. Here, she sums up all of her knowledge and expertise, teaching you many hands-on pest-control techniques, such as succession planting, choosing resistant plant varieties, and shielding plants with row covers…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Recent Sustainability and Environment books

A book on DiY WiFi features this time: “It brings to life an Australian version of WiFi”.

Syndetics book coverSustainability : the basics / Peter Jacques.
“Sustainability is concerned with the issues around the ongoing and mutual preservation of both society and the environment. It is a widely used term and supposed goal for many governments but it is also easily misunderstood. Sustainability: The Basics offers an accessible and interdisciplinary introduction to the concept, and discusses key questions such as: How do we decide who or what should be sustained? What lessons can we learn from the collapse of previous civilizations? Sustainability studies is in a position to ask some of the most interesting questions about human purpose, identity, modernity, ethics, and the nature of “progress”.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHarvesting Space for a greener Earth / Greg Matloff, C. Bangs, Les Johnson.
“What was our planet like in years past? How has our civilization affected Earth and its ecology? Harvesting Space for a Greener Planet, the Second Edition of Paradise Regained: The Regreening of the Earth, begins by discussing these questions, and then generates a scenario for the restoration of Earth. It introduces new and innovative ideas on how we could use the Solar System and its resources for terrestrial benefit… Not only will the solutions offered here avert a crisis, they will also provide the basis for continued technological and societal progress.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDiY WiFi : re-imagining connectivity / Katrina Jungnickel.
“Who makes WiFi? Why do different makers matter? What do barbeques and backyards have to do with the internet? This book explores how WiFi is made from the ground up, or in this case from the backyard out. Forged around barbeques, made of found, adapted and off-the-shelf materials and installed in ordinary domestic spaces, this book documents the collective work of individuals committed to making ‘Ournet not the internet’. Drawing on rich ethnographic material, Jungnickel’s research on community WiFi networking provides an overdue account of the innovative digital cultures and practices of ordinary people making extra-ordinary things.” (from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverSustainability : a history / Jeremy L. Caradonna.
“The word is nearly ubiquitous: at the grocery store we shop for “sustainable foods” that were produced from “sustainable agriculture”; groups ranging from small advocacy organizations to city and state governments to the United Nations tout “sustainable development” as a strategy for local and global stability; and woe betide the city-dweller who doesn’t aim for a “sustainable lifestyle.” Seeming to have come out of nowhere to dominate the discussion-from permaculture to renewable energy to the local food movement-the ideas that underlie and define sustainability can be traced back several centuries.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe self-sufficient home : how to provide for your family and prepare for the unexpected / Nancy Hoffman.
“Whether you’re looking to lead a healthier life, protect the environment, or save money, The Self-Sufficient Home will show you have to transition from your current lifestyle to a self-sufficient one with in-depth advice that you can start using right now. You’ll not only improve your day-to-day life with these basic living skills, but you will also prepare yourself for any disaster that might arise in your area. Complete with detailed instructions for living more simply, this book teaches you everything you need to know about building a self-sufficient home…” (adapted from book jacket)

Syndetics book coverThe compost-powered water heater : how to heat your water, greenhouse, or building with only compost / Gaelan Brown.
“Here is a revolutionary approach for heating rooms and generating hot water. The author has worked with engineers and compost scientists to refine methods of composting that can heat greenhouses, barns, buildings, and hot water, all without combustion.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLittle house in the suburbs : backyard farming and home skills for self-sufficient living / Deanna Caswell and Daisy Siskin.
“Gardens, goats and chickens in the suburbs? Absolutely! The easy to follow advice in this book will show you everything you need to know to enjoy an abundant, independent life on food and products grown in your own backyard.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverA place in the sun : green living and the solar home / Stephen Snyder ; introduction by John Hix.
“Green living meets good design in this luxuriously illustrated volume. 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)

You can now reserve our Power Meters!

Elto EMA1 Power Mate Lite

Our POWER METERS  have proven quite successful and due to popular demand, they can now be reserved. So, you don’t have to leave it to chance anymore and hope that one will be available when you come and visit the Central library. Wherever you are in Wellington, you can reserve your own unit to be delivered to your nearest branch.

Just click here !

Just like a book or a DVD, you can take one of our power meters home and test your appliances to get a better picture of what your big power users are.

They cost $5.00 to borrow for 10 days.

Here are copies of the instructions for your reference:

ELTO EMA1:

Elto EMA1 Power Meter Instructions

For more details, see the  User-Friendly Guide

POWER-MATE LITE:

Power-Mate Lite Quick-Start

Power-Mate Lite Full Instructions

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Sustainability and the Environment – Recent picks for September

New books this month include: making your own green cleaning products, New Zealand’s sanctuaries that are saving native creatures from extinction, and a book explaining about solar power being the best solution to our energy needs, and why we should embrace solar technology.

Syndetics book coverThe wastewater gardener : preserving the planet one flush at a time! / Mark Nelson ; foreword by Tony Juniper. “Part wake-up call, part memoir, this book is a humorous look at innovative ways for dealing with human waste that respect the water cycle-a wastewater garden is a trademarked method for using water-tolerant plants to process sewage as part of a septic system. Ecosystem engineer and researcher Nelson describes his career in detail, starting with desert farming in New Mexico and two years in the sustainability experiment of Biosphere 2. ” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClean green : it won’t cost the earth! / Caroline Leslie. “Written in a fun, factual and easy-to-follow manner, Clean Green will not only teach you how to become more eco~friendly and chemical~aware, it will also help you to gain a great sense of achievement, contribution and satisfaction along the way. A fantastic, handy and practical guide that every home should have! Inside you’ll learn: exactly which toxic chemicals are in your “conventional” cleaners and what they are doing to you and your family’s health; why cleaning GREEN is better for you, your home and the environment; how to save $$$ by buying green cleaning ingredients and products; the “GREEN 14″ – 14 key ingredients to achieving your Green Cleaning status; and practical, eco-friendly tips and hints to maintain a thoroughly green home and lifestyle.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGroundbreaking food gardens : 73 plans that will change the way you grow your garden / Niki Jabbour. “Vegetable gardens can be designed for flavor AND fun! Niki Jabbour, author of the best-selling The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, has collected 73 plans for novel and inspiring food gardens from her favorite superstar gardeners. You’ll find a garden that provides salad greens 52 weeks a year, another that supplies your favorite cocktail ingredients, one that you plant on a balcony, one that encourages pollinators, one that grows 24 kinds of chile peppers, and dozens more. Each plan is fully illustrated and includes a profile of the contributor, the story behind the design, and a plant list.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPoisoned planet : how constant exposure to man-made chemicals is putting your life at risk / Julian Cribb. “Man-made chemicals are creating a silent epidemic. Our children are sicker; cancer, obesity, allergies and mental health issues are on the rise in adults; and, frighteningly, we may be less intelligent than previous generations. A poisoned planet is the price we are paying for our lifestyles, but Julian Cribb shows we have the tools to clean it up and create a healthier, safer future for us all.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverParadise saved : the remarkable story of New Zealand’s wildlife sanctuaries and how they are stemming the tide of extinction / David Buter, Tony Lindsay & Janet Hunt. “”Tells the gripping story of how we are turning back the tide of extinction. It is a celebration of pioneering science and a national survey of the sanctuaries, little and big, that are protecting native species and reintroducing them to areas where they had once been extinct. It covers over 130 sanctuaries, with up to date information on where to find them, how to visit and how to do your part”–Back cover.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverShrewdunnit : the nature files / Conor Mark Jameson. “”Conor Mark Jameson has spent most of his life exploring the natural environment and communicating his enthusiasm for it to family, friends and, more recently, readers of a range of newspapers and magazines. Shrewdunnit brings together the best of these dispatches, alongside unpublished essays, in a poetic and evocative journal that inspires and delights. Jameson’s prose is fresh and in places irreverent, with a hint of mischief and a dash of wit. From his back door to the peaks of New Zealand and the swamp forests of the Peruvian Amazon, he carries on the biogumentary style he perfected in his earlier books showing – never telling – how to bring nature and conservation home.”–Cover.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe burning answer : a user’s guide to the solar revolution / Keith Barnham. “Our civilisation faces a choice. In three generations we have consumed half the oil produced by photosynthesis over eight million generations. With threats from global warming, oil depletion and nuclear disaster, we are running out of options. Solar power, as Keith Barnham explains, is the solution. In THE BURNING ANSWER he uncovers the connections between physics and politics that have resulted in our dependence on a high-carbon lifestyle. Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 led to the atomic bomb and the widespread use of nuclear energy. In a fascinating tour of recent scientific history, Keith Barnham reveals Einstein’s other, less famous equation, which provides the basis for solar technology. Some countries have harnessed this for their energy needs, and it is not too late for us to do the same.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAdventures in the Anthropocene : a journey to the heart of the planet we made / Gaia Vince. “Our planet is said to be crossing a geological boundary – from the Holocene into the Anthropocene, or Age of Man. Gaia Vince decided to quit her job at science journal Nature , and travel the world at the start of this new age to explore what these changes really mean… She found ordinary people solving severe crises in ingenious, effective ways. Take the retired railway worker who’s building artificial glaciers in the Himalayas, for example, or the Peruvian painting mountains white to retain snowfall…” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverEating wildly : foraging for life, love and the perfect meal / Ava Chin. “Chin, who writes the “Wild Edibles” column for the New York Times, goes looking for love, blackberries, and wild garlic in this wildly uneven, yet warmly exhilarating memoir. Trekking through Central Park and other urban beaten paths and backyards, Chin leads us on a journey of discovery as she searches for the tender shoots poking through cement cracks and hardy wild plants resisting winter’s bite.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMatt’s kitchen garden cookbook / Matt Moran ; photography by Rob Palmer. “With his characteristic light touch and elegant flavour combinations, it’s easy to see why Matt Moran is one of Australia’s most successful chefs. Here, he shares his passion for Australian produce and his admiration and appreciation of gardeners, whether they be commercial, hobby or student.” (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 for June

Our books this month take us around the globe: to Australia in ‘Dangerous allies’; China for ‘Wish you happy forever’; South Africa for ‘Are South Africans free?’; plus more books that apply world-wide such as ‘Plant conservation : why it matters and how it works’; ‘Scarcity : why having too little means so much’ and ‘The zero marginal cost society : the internet of things, the collaborative commons, and the eclipse of capitalism’. Some serious reading and thinking ahead!

Syndetics book coverDance of the reptiles : selected columns / Carl Hiaasen ; edited by Diane Stevenson.
“If you think the wildest, wackiest stories that Carl Hiassen can tell have all made it into his hilarious, bestselling novels. think again. Dance of the Reptiles collects the best of Hiaasen’s Miami Herald columns, which lay bare stories – large and small – that demonstrate anew that truth is far stranger than fiction. Hiaasen offers his commentary – indignant, disbelieving, sometimes righteously angry, and frequently hilarious – on burning issues like animal welfare, polluted rivers, and the broken criminal justice system as well as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Bernie Madoff’s trial, and the other shenanigans of the recent presidential elections.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverDangerous allies / Malcolm Fraser with Cain Roberts.
“Australia has always been reliant on ‘great and powerful friends’ for its sense of national security and for direction on its foreign policy – first on the British Empire and now on the United States. Australia has actively pursued a policy of strategic dependence, believing that making a grand bargain with a powerful ally was the best policy to ensure its security and prosperity.
Dangerous Allies examines Australia’s history of strategic dependence and questions the continuation of this position. It argues that international circumstances, in the world and in the Western Pacific especially, now make such a policy highly questionable. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States has also changed dramatically, making it less relevant to Australia and a less appropriate ally on which Australia should rely.
Malcolm Fraser argues that Australia should adopt a much greater degree of independence in foreign policy, and that we should no longer merely follow other nations into wars of no direct interest to Australia or Australia’s security. He argues for an end to strategic dependence and for the timely establishment of a truly independent Australia.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverScarcity : why having too little means so much / Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Sharif.
“The struggle for insufficient resources-time, money, food, companionship-concentrates the mind for better and, mostly, worse, according to this revelatory treatise on the psychology of scarcity. Harvard economist Mullainathan and Princeton psychologist Shafir examine how scarcity in many forms, from poverty and scheduling pressures to dieters’ food cravings and loneliness-a kind of “social scarcity” -force the brain to focus on alleviating pressing shortages and thus reduce the mental “bandwidth” available to address other needs, plan ahead, exert self-control, and solve problems. The result of perpetual scarcity, they contend, is a life fixated on agonizing trade-offs, crises, and preoccupations that impose persistent cognitive deficits-in poor people they lower mental performance as much as going a night without sleep-and reinforce self-defeating actions…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe zero marginal cost society : the internet of things, the collaborative commons, and the eclipse of capitalism / Jeremy Rifkin.
“The Internet is lowering marginal production costs to nearly zero, futurist Rifkin (The Third Industrial Revolution) declares, making once prohibitively expensive items, services, and activities almost free. Rifkin suggests that scarcity will give way to a future of abundance as humankind learns to share in a “collaborative commons,” thus weakening profits and property rights. “The capitalist era is passing,” he begins grandly, and it “will transform our way of life.” To make his case, Rifkind explores 3-D printing, massive open online courses (MOOCs), green energy, and other micro cases…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWish you happy forever : what China’s orphans taught me about moving mountains / Jenny Bowen.
“In this moving memoir, Brown, founder of Half the Sky Foundation, details her journey toward the establishment of nurturing conditions within China’s bleak state run orphanages. After reading a 1996 newspaper article detailing the miserable conditions prevailing in Chinese orphanages, Bowen and her husband made a life-changing decision. “So we set out on our adoption journey not to build a family-we had raised two lovely children, the nest was empty-but to save one life. That was how we saw it then.” Following the adoption of a Chinese baby girl, soon followed by a second adoption, Bowen was spurred to especially help female infants and those with special needs. Bowen chronicles the political, cultural, social and administrative obstacles encountered throughout the process of establishing her foundation…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat should we tell our daughters? : the pleasures and pressures of growing up female / Melissa Benn.
“We have reached a tricky crossroads in modern women’s lives and our collective daughters are bearing the brunt of some intolerable pressures. Although feminism has made great strides forward since our mothers’ and grandmothers’ day, many of the key issues – equality of pay, equality in the home, representation at senior level in the private, public and political sectors – remain to be tackled.
…This is a manifesto for every mother who has ever had to comfort a daughter who doesn’t feel ‘pretty’, for every young woman who out-performs her male peers professionally and wonders why she is still not taken seriously, and for anyone interested in the world we are making for the next generation.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk book description)

Syndetics book coverPlant conservation : why it matters and how it works / Timothy Walker.
“The true building blocks of civilization, plants furnish the fuel humans need for their bodies and industry, provide the raw materials for clothing and shelter, and, increasingly, are essential components of advanced and complex medical therapies… Due to climate change and habitat destruction, genetic modification and overconsumption, plant species are going extinct at an alarming rate. But thanks to the dedicated efforts of scores of botanists, scientists, and government officials around the world, the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) was developed at the dawn of this century to set quantifiable goals for conserving plants and seeds to be accomplished by 2020. An attainable target or an exercise in futility?… (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAre South Africans free? / Lawrence Hamilton.
“Despite South Africa’s successful transition to democracy and lauded constitution, political freedom for the majority of South Africans remains elusive. The poor and unemployed majority are poorly represented and lack power and thus freedom. Under these conditions, the freedom of the privileged minority is also seriously impaired due to the costs of maintaining their relative security and well-being. Lawrence Hamilton is an internationally-known political theorist, who has spent ten years teaching in South African universities. In this unique book he brings ideas – political and philosophical – to the fore to understand a contemporary political conundrum.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe three ecologies / Félix Guattari ; translated by Ian Pindar and Paul Sutton.
“In this splendid short treatise, Guattari (1930-92; radical psychoanalyst, social theorist, and activist) revolutionizes critical theory by combining trenchant theoretical Marxism with a political activism aimed at reclaiming the earth, and ourselves, from the clutches of IWC (integrated world capitalism). Like his other collaborative work with Gilles Deleuze, The Three Ecologies (1989) profoundly challenges the political complacencies that militate against social and personal transformation. This book is an important contribution to the growing body of translations of Guattari, and it appears with a fine essay by Gary Genosko, “The Life and Work of Felix Guattari.” A bibliography, chronology, and translator’s introduction also accompany the work… (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNo place to hide : Edward Snowden, the NSA and the surveillance state / Glenn Greenwald.
“Investigative reporter for The Guardian and bestselling author Glenn Greenwald, provides an in-depth look into the NSA scandal that has triggered a national debate over national security and information privacy. With further revelations from documents entrusted to Glenn Greenwald by Edward Snowden himself, this book explores the extraordinary cooperation between private industry and the NSA, and the far-reaching consequences of the government’s surveillance program, both domestically and abroad”. (Syndetics summary)

Sustainability Trust Presents: Mini Worm Farms for Kids at Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library

FBYou’re invited to join in this fun session on worms and all the good work they do for us and our planet.

Together, we’ll take a closeup look at how worms can turn our food scraps into useful compost, and learn how to build our very own mini-worm farm.

So come along and get friendly with worms!

RSVP to Ngaio Library: 479 2344 or at the library front desk

New non-fiction books: “How to Make a Zombie”

New non-fiction books. How the introduction of Australia’s carbon pricing scheme provided the fuel to bring down Julia Gillard, (no pun intended).

Syndetics book coverHow to make a zombie : the real life (and death) science of reanimation and mind control / Frank Swain.
“Swain (founder, SciencePunk blog) reviews the science behind historical attempts at creating zombies, i.e., reanimated persons and other animals, as well as such variants on the theme as mind control of people. From reviewing 19th-century stories of zombies in the Caribbean to 20th-century experiments at resuscitation of humans and dogs, Swain looks at our fascination with seeking to bring the dead to life. He also examines various forms of mind control from mind-dulling drugs and hypnotism to the evolution of what we now call lobotomies. He points out actual creatures capable of inducing zombielike effects on their prey, including parasitic wasps and rabid animals.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe stalking of Julia Gillard / Kerry-Anne Walsh.
“This is the story of one of the most extraordinary episodes in recent Australian political history, of how a powerful media pack, a vicious commentariat and some of those within her own party conspired to bring down Australia’s first woman prime minister.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNuclear war and environmental catastrophe / Noam Chomsky and Laray Polk.
“Though Chomsky sharply critiques America’s lack of green technology, blames America for nuclear damage in Iraq, and attacks its arrogant attempt to control the arms race, these are hardly the two central themes of the book. However, the volume is still rich with Chomsky’s opinions; he debunks present day hysterias like overblown threats from Iran or aggressive posturing by China. Perhaps the most interesting part of the Q & A format is Polk’s constant attempts to bait Chomsky into Republican-specific attacks (the Koch brothers, Santorum, the religious right), a simplistic trap that Chomsky doesn’t fall into. In the end, Chomsky argues that environmentalist hopes lay with one of the world’s poorest countries, Bolivia – which has passed laws granting rights to nature – while America, the richest, fracks the very ground beneath its feet.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe green boat : reviving ourselves in our capsized culture / Mary Pipher.
“Psychologist Pipher (Reviving Ophelia) brings her wisdom about how individuals interact with culture to this compassionate, beautiful, and personal approach to acknowledging the global environmental crisis while maintaining mental balance and hope. As Pipher lucidly explains, the overwhelming amount of information about the desperate state of our planet leads to stress, avoiding discussion, willful ignorance, and outright denial, while the activist’s call of “Wake up!” is an ineffective remedy. Instead, Piper distinguishes between “distractionable intelligence,” which makes us feel helpless, and “actionable intelligence,” which combines information with suggestions for addressing problems, thus creating hope, motivation, and change.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverParting shots / Matthew Parris and Andrew Bryson.
“Up until 2006 a British Ambassador leaving his post was encouraged to write what was known as a valedictory despatch, to be circulated to a small number of influential people in government. This was the parting shot, an opportunity to offer a personal and frank view of the host country, the manners and morals of its people, their institutions, the state of their cooking and their drains. But it was also a chance to let rip at the Foreign Office itself and to look back on a career spent in the service of a sometimes ungrateful nation. Combining gems from the archives with more recent despatches obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Parting Shots is a treasure trove of wit, venom and serious analysis.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRussia’s Cold War : from the October Revolution to the fall of the wall / Jonathan Haslam.
“Haslam (history of international relations, Cambridge) has written a brilliant survey and analysis of the Cold War, particularly Russia’s role in that seminal event. With verve, clarity, logic, and access to the rich archives of Russia, Europe, and the US, he has produced a definitive study that will stand for years to come, much like Adam Ulam’s earlier Expansion and Coexistence. Unlike US historians, Haslam shows that the Cold War actually started in 1917 and was, at its heart, a clash of fundamental values. He documents that President Roosevelt was, after all, quite naive in dealing with Stalin and eventually realized it on his deathbed.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLive the life you love at 50+ : a handbook for career and life success / Keren Smedley.
“Age no longer defines what you can or can’t do: don’t fear it, embrace it! It is possible for someone who has entered the secong half of their life to start a new career, get remarried, have a young family, run a marathon, travel the world, take up a new high-risk sport or start a new business.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverThe world is a carpet : four seasons in an Afghan village / Anna Badkhen.
” Journalist Badkhen traveled to the northern Afghan village of Oqa (so remote that Google can’t find it) and immersed herself in the villagers’ lives over four seasons as she watched Turkoman women weave one of their legendary rugs. In the sparest of language, she tells a heartbreakingly familiar story: the village is suffering its second year of drought; hunger is common; addiction to opium, used to mask hunger pangs, begins at birth; and war is simply another day of life. The carpet is a work of art, the family’s financial salvation, and the hallmark of a woman’s value. The irony is that, as their carpets garner great sums, money never reaches the place where they are created or those who need the money so desperately.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBroke : who killed the middle classes? / David Boyle.
“Something is killing the middle classes. They find themselves priced out of the streets they grew up in, their children in desperate competition for places at league table-topping schools. Banking salaries make a mockery of their professions, their pensions are shrinking. Today’s middle classes will struggle to enjoy the same standard of living as their parents’ generation. But can the middle classes be revived? Should they be?” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverWhen the money runs out : the end of western affluence / Stephen D. King.
“HSBC chief economist King (Losing Control) presents a concise description of the West’s current economic problems with warnings and suggestions for the future. While he asserts “when the money runs out” is “a turn of phrase, not the literal truth,” he analyzes what may happen if the economy doesn’t recover. He contends that the expected economic cycle is not the present problem but rather that there is a lack of trust and a deterioration in structural economic performance. He claims the current economic stagnation will predominate if people continue to have entitlement expectations governments may no longer be able to meet.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Non-Fiction: Rebuilding the foodshed

New non- fiction: Macabre true stories ‘Rest in Pieces’

Syndetics book coverRest in pieces : the curious fates of famous corpses / Bess Lovejoy.
“Repeatedly illustrating with a hearseload of case studies that “final resting place” is a relative term, Lovejoy (a contributing writer for the Schott’s Almanac series) digs up a litany of strange-but-true tales of the postmortem adventures of all manner of famous corpses throughout history. …readers will be surprised to learn the story behind the disappearance of Geronimo’s skull (as well as its alleged link to the Bush family) and the curious travels of Dorothy Parker’s remains… B&w illus. throughout. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRadiation : what it is, what you need to know / Robert Peter Gale, M.D.,Ph.D, and Eric Lax.
“Oncologist and bone marrow transplant specialist Gale (Final Warning: The Legacy of Chernobyl, with Thomas Hauser) has ventured into the world’s top “hot spots” – Chernobyl and Fukushima – and emerged to assure us that our worries about radiation are disproportionate to actual risks. With science writer and biographer Lax (Woody Allen: A Biography), Gale tackles the complicated science of radiobiology to quell unfounded fears and help readers weigh the risks and benefits of nuclear technologies…. And though he notes that the U.S. must be careful about how it utilizes nuclear energy, Gale notes that coal-fired plants produce three times more radiation than do nuclear power stations. He also insists that despite the real dangers of nuclear terrorism, radiation saves more lives than it harms, citing its use as an important anticancer therapy. … Agent: Kris Dahl, International Creative Management. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDirty wars : the world is a battlefield / Jeremy Scahill.
“In “Dirty Wars,” Jeremy Scahill, author of the “New York Times” best-seller “Blackwater,” takes us inside America’s new covert wars. As he reveals, the foot soldiers in these battles operate daily across the globe and inside the United States with orders from the White House to do whatever is necessary to hunt down, capture, or kill individuals designated by the president as enemies of America.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRebuilding the foodshed : how to create local, sustainable, and secure food systems / Philip Ackerman-Leist ; foreword by Deborah Madison.
“…. Vermont farmer and professor Ackerman-Leist ruminates his way through the conundrums and possibilities of local food, demonstrating how words and their definitions can shed light on and transform our understanding of the rapidly evolving, often confusing, emotion-fraught questions of what people eat, where the food comes from, who has access to what, and how the answers to these questions affect the lives of eaters and growers. …He finds solutions in the actions of pioneers of food production, distribution, and education, including D-Town Farm – a “step into transcendence” in a deteriorating Detroit suburb that recycles waste to grow vegetables and mushrooms, harvest honey, and help revitalize the devastated local economy. …. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy men fake it : the totally unexpected truth about men and sex / Abraham Morgentale.
“Morgentaler’s investigation is organized around four themes: orgasm and its impediments (yes-some men do fake it), sex drive, erections, and, of course, penis size. The third section is the widest-ranging and most scientifically grounded (Morgentaler also wrote about a related topic in 2003’s The Viagra Myth), and it allows him an opportunity to attack the Masters and Johnson “zeitgeist of several decades ago.” Morgentaler’s case studies are relatable and often funny (some should be read discreetly in public), and they crystallize his sensitive approach to the subject matter: “sex is weird,” and “sex is not just sex.” …Agent: Bob Levine, Levine Plotkin & Menin. (Apr. 16) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe devouring dragon : how China’s rise threatens our natural world / Craig Simons.
“Environmental journalist Simons… recounts his adventures witnessing the mind-boggling extent of devastation wreaked on the Chinese-and global-landscape by unchecked growth. …the author paints a dire picture of the wanton destruction of entire ecosystems, choking pollution that shaves years off of life expectancy, and massive climate change, which he predicts will become “humanity’s most important challenge.” ….Simons’s vague recommendation that “we need to think differently” leads one to suspect that the situation will only get worse. Agent: Janet Silver, Zachary Schuster Harmsworth. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPandora’s lunchbox : how processed food took over the American meal / Melanie Warner.
“Warner takes readers on an investigative journey into the history, current practices, and future trends concerning food processing and additives. We meet characters like Harvey Wiley, the “founder of modern food regulation,” whose legal briefs helped ban dangerous additives like borax and formaldehyde in the United States, and James Lewis Kraft, whose 1914 processing technique created cheese that could be “kept indefinitely without spoiling.” She covers the history of soy, from its early uses as fertilizer and livestock feed to the development of soybean oil for frying food, this despite containing toxic aldehydes that have been linked to serious medical conditions. …Warner’s thought-provoking study does an excellent job presenting the facts without sensationalizing, and offering common sense solutions to those seeking to make better food choices. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSongs and secrets : South Africa from liberation to governance / Barry Gilder.
“A decade into its hard-won democracy, South Africa and its ruling party, the ANC, have been through turbulent times… Written in an anecdotal style, and with a cinematic quality, Songs and Secrets explores these questions through the viewfinder of a former high-ranking member of the ANC’s secret intelligence wing. It follows Gilder into the ANC’s military camps in Angola; to Moscow for spycraft training; to the underground in Botswana; and into leadership positions in the administration of the new government. Gilder’s frank, compelling memoir explores the personal, political, psychological and historical realities that gave birth to the new South Africa, in particular the oft-ignored conditions in which the ANC government tried to turn apartheid around.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe rule of the clan : what an ancient form of social organization reveals about the future of individual freedom / Mark S. Weiner.
“Weiner, a professor at Rutgers School of Law, presents a nuanced view of clan-based societies, from medieval Iceland to modern-day Afghanistan, in this sociological history and political treatise. Whether a barbarian dystopia or a libertarian paradise, clan-based societies, Weiner argues, provide security and social stability while subsuming the identity of the individual into the larger order. But is security worth the sacrifice of individual freedoms? Ultimately, Weiner’s argument is a full-throated defense of the modern centralized state, which he sees as necessary to protect human rights… Agent: Tina Bennett, WME Entertainment. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOne hundred wisdom stories from around the world / compiled by Margaret Silf.
“… This vivid and varied collection of stories is gathered together by an experienced and well-respected author and speaker from a wide range of time periods and cultures around the world. Stories can be a powerful means of communication; each of these stories has a spiritual message at its heart, meaning that they can be read at many different levels and enjoyed by all. They are ideal for personal use and will also be a valuable resource for church leaders and school teachers. …” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBillionaires’ ball : gluttony and hubris in an age of epic inequality / Linda McQuaig, Neil Brooks.
“A society top-heavy with billionaires may seem like a paradise of upward mobility, but it actually more closely resembles a boneyard of broken dreams for all but a lucky few. Between 1980 and 2008, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent of Americans grew by a meager 1 percent compared to a whopping 403 percent for the top .01 percent.
We tend to regard these large fortunes as proof of a meritocracy, yet there is no evidence that members of today’s super-rich are any more talented or hardworking than were the elite of a generation ago.
Via vivid profiles of billionaires-ranging from philanthropic capitalist Bill Gates and the infamous Koch brothers to brazen private equity baron Stephen Schwarzman – Billionaires’ Ball debunks the notion that they “deserve” their grand fortunes, when such wealth is really a by-product of a legal and economic system that’s become deeply flawed and is now threatening the quality of life and very functioning of our democracy.”–publisher’s website.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlternative energy demystified / Stan Gibilisco.
“If you think a Maglev train is a child’s toy, or learning about fusion makes your brain reach critical mass, Alternative Energy DeMYSTiFieD, Second Edition will power up your knowledge of this topics fundamental concepts and theories at your own pace. This practical guide eases you into this field of science… As you progress, you will master the science behind alternative energies…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Environmental picks

New books about the environment are in steady supply this month. Energy efficiency, environmental degradation and self-sufficiency are all covered, along with a spectacular photographic look at weather.

Syndetics book coverTechnological nature : adaptation and the future of human life / Peter H. Kahn, Jr.
“Why it matters that our relationship with nature is increasingly mediated and augmented by technology.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover50 popular beliefs that people think are true / Guy P. Harrison ; [illustrations by Kevin Hand].
“Stressing the excitement of scientific discovery and the legitimate mysteries and wonder inherent in reality, Harrison invites readers to share the joys of rational thinking and the skeptical approach to evaluating our extraordinary world.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExtraordinary weather: amazing tricks of nature from the spectacular to the surprising.
“An incredible collection of truly breathtaking weather phenomena. ….Extraordinary Weather unearths astonishing photographs and compelling satellite imagery that reveals the otherworldly, wayward and often ambiguous nature of the weather. From the beautiful snow rollers that can form on icy rooftops to the dramatic lightshow of volcanic lightning, these powerful images – accompanied by commentary from the award winning Richard Hamblyn – inform and explain the science behind the most extraordinary weather phenomena ever seen.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverThe bluebird effect : uncommon bonds with common birds / Julie Zickefoose.
“Through raising and rehabilitating birds, Zickefoose pulls back a curtain on their motivations, desires, and even emotions. This book is a visual feast, lavishly illustrated with watercolors and field sketches.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSolar domestic water heating : the Earthscan expert handbook for planning, design, and installation / Chris Laughton.
“Solar Domestic Water Heating” is a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of solar domestic water heating systems. As fossil fuel prices continue to rise and awareness of climate change grows, interest in domestic solar water heating is expanding.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe conundrum : how scientific innovation, increased efficiency, and good intentions can make our energy and climate problems worse / David Owen.
” … David Owen’s elegant narrative, filled with fascinating information and anecdotes, takes you through the history of energy and the quest for efficiency. He introduces the reader to some of the smartest people working on solving our energy problems. He details the arguments of efficiency’s proponents and its antagonists–and in the process overturns most traditional wisdom about being green. This is a book that will change how you look at the world. We are not waiting for some geniuses to invent our way out of the energy and economic crisis we’re in. We already have the technology and knowledge we need to live sustainably. But will we do it? That is the conundrum.” – (adapted from Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverGreen philosophy : how to think seriously about the planet / Roger Scruton.
“The environment has long been the undisputed territory of the political Left, which has seen the principal threats to the earth as issuing from international capitalism, consumerism and the over-exploitation of natural resources. In Green Philosophy, Roger Scruton shows the fallacies behind that way of thinking, and the danger that it poses to the ecosystems on which we all depend. Scruton contends that the environment is the most urgent political problem of our age, and sets out the principles that should govern our efforts to protect it. The current environmental movement directs its energies at the bigger picture but fails to see that environmental problems are generated and resolved by ordinary people.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverSelf-sufficiency : a guide for 21st-century living.
“Self-sufficiency, or at least the desire to practise elements of a self-sufficient lifestyle, has become a growing trend of recent years. This useful book shows how anyone can turn to self-sufficiency. Although hugely practical, this book has an attractive feel and will appeal to large numbers of urban dwellers who may want to take on certain aspects of self-sufficient living. The idea is ‘traditional skills for modern living’ and the book is intended to appeal primarily to women in their thirties, probably with young families.” (adapted fromAmazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverEaarth : making a life on a tough new planet / Bill McKibben.Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
“Twenty years ago, with “The End of Nature,” McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about global warming. Those warnings went mostly unheeded; now, he insists, we need to acknowledge that we’ve waited too long, and that massive change is not only unavoidable but already under way.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe view from Lazy Point : a natural year in an unnatural world / Carl Safina ; with drawings by Trudy Nicholson ; maps by Jon Luoma.
“A conservationist explores various global regions to investigate examples of environmental degradation and renewal while identifying a link between environmental dangers and human rights issues.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)