Matt Harvey is a well-known UK poet and comedian, and author of the upcoming book Where Earwigs Dare.
In this video from 2010 the two speak about the Transition Town Movement, and why we should prepare for a world without cheap energy.
Matt Harvey is a well-known UK poet and comedian, and author of the upcoming book Where Earwigs Dare.
In this video from 2010 the two speak about the Transition Town Movement, and why we should prepare for a world without cheap energy.
Forty years ago, three researchers teamed up with a computer model and attempted to predict the future.
The result was a report to the Club of Rome entitled The Limits to Growth. But that was just the beginning.
In the years that followed, the future scenarios the model predicted — the most dire of which showed humanity using up its nonrenewable resources as fast as possible, and then sliding into myriad catastrophic shortages and crises — were hotly contested, and viciously derided as bad science. They were also occasionally championed as a Cassandra story — telling a truth nobody wants to admit.
The controversy surrounding Limits to Growth remains to this day, even as actual observations track right along with some of the more dire scenarios outlined by World3 (the model), Dennis Meadows, Donella Meadows, and Jorgen Randers (the researchers).
Randers has continued to worry productively about the future, and his new book, 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, offers a best guess at what that future might be. To develop this new forecast, Randers spoke to numerous experts, and asked what they saw coming in the realms of economy, resource-use, environment, climate change, and more. What will happen to us in the coming decades? Some of the answers may surprise you.
The book is now available, and to celebrate its arrival we’re putting it on sale for 25% off.
Below is an excerpt from the book’s first chapter, “Worrying About the Future.”
Audubon magazine, the September-October 2010 issue. Summer is a great time to take to the rails and see the country without the stress and hassle of driving, or the extreme disconnect of rocketing 30,000 feet above the landscape in a jet. In that spirit we revisit McCommons’ list of the ten best trips.originally appeared in
Traveling by train might sound old-fashioned, but it remains one of the best, most environment-friendly ways to see some of America’s wildest places. Here are 10 trips of a lifetime.
There was a time when the railroad ran through most towns in America, when a trip to the seashore, mountains, or desert, even the wilderness, began aboard a train. Today trains can still take you to natural places where the wonders of a national or state park, a bike path, or a river are just steps away from the tracks.
Riding the rails and leaving your car at home is an environmental choice. Per passenger mile, trains are 24 percent more fuel efficient than automobiles, 17 percent more than airplanes. For the final leg of your trip, you may have to rent a car, or you might consider bringing a bike, using public transportation, if available, or simply walking.
Whether you hop aboard a short-distance tourist railroad, a commuter line, or Amtrak—the only intercity passenger railroad left in America—the following 10 routes cross some of the country’s most iconic landscapes. On long-distance trips, reclining coach seats can be comfortable enough for sleeping, or you can pay extra for a sleeper compartment, which includes meals in the dining car. Ticket and sleeper prices vary. Best advice: Do some research online, check for discounts, and plan ahead.
Click on the thumbnail images below for a downloadable PDF of the spotting scopes guide.
The Empire Builder
This train runs the “Hi-Line” route, on tracks owned by BNSF Railway, across the country’s northern tier between Chicago and Seattle/Portland. Passengers may glimpse pintail ducks, blue wing teal, and many grassland birds in North Dakota’s prairie pothole region; pronghorn antelope on Montana’s high plains; and mule deer and elk in the Cascades.
In the Rockies the train crosses the continental divide at Marias Pass and follows the southern border of Glacier National Park, where railroad history runs deep. The Great Northern Railway pushed hard for the park’s establishment in 1910 and built hotels and chalets to lure tourists to what was advertised as the American Alps. Amtrak stops at East Glacier and West Glacier, where you can catch a 1930s era “Jammer” touring coach to a nearby hotel or campground. At the park’s Essex Junction stop, you can stay at the Izaak Walton Inn, formerly a railroad barracks. Glacier Park is a 30-hour ride from Chicago and about 16 hours from Seattle.
The Algoma Central Railway
Pack a canoe onto a railroad baggage car. (It’s true—this train will carry snowmobiles and even boats.) Ride the rails into boreal forests of moose and muskeg, and step into the wilderness. Then, after paddling through lakes and rivers, head back to the tracks and flag down the next train. Just wave your arms for the Algoma Central Railway, which runs for 296 miles between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, Ontario.
Wilderness seekers head for the Chapleau Game Preserve, a 2,700-square-mile region of Crown Land (acreage owned by the British royalty and open to the public), where animals are protected from hunting and trapping. Between mileposts 184 and 245, passengers can step off directly into the preserve and embark on their backcountry trips.
Or you can get off at Fraser (Milepost 102) or Eaton (Milepost 120) to visit Lake Superior Provincial Park. If you’re just looking for a day trip, take a ride to Agawa Canyon. The canyon, which formed 1.2 billion years ago, is explorable only by train and five short hiking trails.
The Grand Canyon Railway
In the early 1900s the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway built a 65-mile spur from Williams, Arizona, to the canyon and erected the El Tovar Hotel on the south rim. The spur closed in 1968 but was resurrected in the late 1980s as a tourist railway. Year-round the Grand Canyon Railway operates a daily train of vintage passenger cars.
Leaving Williams, the train mostly steers clear of the highways and runs through the Colorado Plateau’s open desert, where blue-black mountain ranges serrate the horizon, and prairie dogs, pronghorn antelope, golden eagles, and red-tailed hawks abound in the scrub brush and dry grasslands. As the route climbs higher, the desert gives way to picturesque ponderosa pine forest near the canyon. The Southwest Chief, an Amtrak long-distance train, stops at Williams, so it’s possible to switch to the canyon train and reach the rim by rail from Chicago (32 hours to Williams) or Los Angeles (nine hours).
The Sunset Limited
Running just three days a week between Houston and Los Angeles, the Sunset passes through the sparsely inhabited Chihuahuan Desert and the ancient volcanic mountains of southwest Texas.
The jumping-off point is Alpine, a small town established to provide water to steam locomotives. Alpine is a 23-hour ride from Los Angeles, 16 hours from Houston. You’ll need to rent a car in Alpine to go exploring because there is no public transportation to nearby parks. To the south, 98 miles away, sprawls Big Bend National Park, 800,000 acres of desert, 7,000-foot mountains, and the Rio Grande. Here’s a place to see roadrunners, javelinas, jackrabbits, and kangaroo rats while hiking through rock-strewn landscapes dotted with agave. The region’s diverse habitats make Big Bend a phenomenal birding destination.
Learn about the flora and fauna at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, 26 miles north of Alpine at Fort Davis. Continue north to 3,000-acre Davis Mountains State Park to hike backcountry trails through the Limpia Canyon Primitive Area. If you don’t want to camp, stay at the park’s Indian Lodge, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Hudson River Line/Metro-North Railroad
Commuter trains that carry workers into New York City on weekdays also provide doorstep access on weekends for people hiking the rocky Hudson Highlands along the Hudson River.
Hikers can board at Grand Central Terminal and disembark less than two hours later and 46 miles north at the Breakneck Ridge station. The aptly named Breakneck Ridge Trail gains 1,250 feet in less than the first mile before reaching a series of exposed summits with stunning views of the river and the surrounding plateau. The trail ends 4.6 miles later at a fire tower on South Beacon Mountain; on clear days it’s possible to see the skyscrapers of Manhattan from the peak.
Weekend trains also stop at the Manitou station, just a short walk from Bear Mountain State Park. Even the regular stops of Beacon and Cold Springs provide fairly easy biking or walking access to the state parks in the highlands.
Maryland Area Regional Commuter
Each evening two trains run the Brunswick Line between Washington’s Union Station and West Virginia. The tracks follow the Potomac River to Harpers Ferry, where John Brown’s 1859 raid on the federal armory struck the spark that helped touch off the Civil War. The trip takes two and a half hours from Washington’s Union Station.
The Appalachian Trail passes just 300 yards from the Harpers Ferry train station. Hikers cross a bridge to Maryland Heights and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, where they gain extraordinary views of the river valley below. Watch for peregrine falcons; since 2001 a dozen young falcons have been released in the Heights.
Consider bringing a bike to ride the towpath along the old Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which runs 184.5 miles from Georgetown, in Washington, D.C., through Harpers Ferry to Cumberland, Maryland. Begun in 1828 to connect the Chesapeake Bay with the Ohio River, the C&O Canal was never finished because of the coming of the railroad. Today it’s a linear national historic park marked by old farms and patches of woods dotted with trillium, dogwood, serviceberry, and rhododendron.
The Denali Star
The train is a spectacular way to reach Denali National Park and Preserve. It takes about eight hours from Anchorage and four hours from Fairbanks. Running May to September, the Denali Star is popular with backpackers, rail fans, and wildlife watchers. When the weather is right, riders get impressive views of Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) and typically see dall sheep, beaver, moose, wolves, and sometimes grizzlies. Caribou migrate across the tracks in fall. If you pay for an upgrade on the route from Anchorage to Fairbanks, you can get the GoldStar Service, with plush seating in custom-made observation cars that feature outdoor decks.
The Alaskan Railroad, owned by the state since 1985, is for more than tourists. It hauls freight and supplies to people living in roadless country. Anyone wanting to board can simply wave down the train.
Running daily between New York City and Montreal, this train skirts the eastern edge of six-million-acre Adirondack Park, the largest tract of land protected by a U.S. state. The Adirondack makes six stops at communities in the park’s eastern region. The trip takes about six hours from Montreal and five hours from New York.
Local transit shuttles at the Fort Edward and Westport stations run to Glens Falls, Lake George, and Lake Placid. At Port Kent passengers can board the seasonal ferry to Vermont, a passage popular with bikers along Lake Champlain. Motorcoach connections are possible at other stops, although you’ll need to taxi over to the local bus station. Otherwise, you may want to consider renting a car to tour the park.
You can find cappuccino and gourmet coffee on the road, and dine at grand old hunting lodges—all the while stopping at trailheads for hikes into big tracts of roadless country. As the land has healed from logging, extirpated species, including moose, fisher, beaver, marten, osprey, and lynx, are making comebacks.
If you prefer to stay on the train and enjoy the scenery, onboard docents, working in partnership with the National Park Service, narrate the journey with tidbits about nature and the region’s Revolutionary War/War of 1812 history. In the fall foliage season, Amtrak adds a vintage domed observation car, which allows passengers stunning 360-degree views.
The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway
(Alaska and Canada)
Starting in Skagway, Alaska, at sea level, this train climbs 2,865 feet in 20 miles up steep grades to reach its high point at White Pass in the Canadian Yukon. This was the route of the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, hailed by miners as the “last great adventure.” The railroad isn’t long—just 110 miles to Whitehorse—but the route leads through dense old-growth forests, glacier fields, and a colorful past. At first the miners hiked to the gold fields carrying their provisions on their backs. A railroad was needed, but such rugged country required a narrower gauge of track, tunnels, trestles, and carving the roadbed out of sheer mountains. Today the picturesque ride takes about three hours one way.
For day hikes, trekkers can get off at two locations, Laughton trailhead and Denver Glacier, where the U.S. Forest Service has renovated an old caboose into a cabin for overnight stays. Follow in the footsteps of gold rushers with a challenging hike on the 33-mile-long Chilkoot Trail, which begins near Skagway and ends up at Lake Bennett, where you can catch the train back down.
Three days a week the Cardinal runs a circuitous route from New York to Chicago via Washington, D.C. The train is so named because six states—Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois—it passes through have designated the Northern cardinal as their state bird.
The Cardinal is a mom-and-pop sort of train with just one sleeping car (shared with the crew) and a single server/cook in the diner. Passengers often board at unstaffed stations and buy their tickets from the conductor.
The West Virginia portion of the route runs along the New River Gorge National River, a linear national park that protects 70,000 acres of land and 53 river miles. The rugged gorge is as much as 1,000 feet deeper than the surrounding Appalachian Plateau. Hikers and birders can detrain at Hinton, Prince, and Thurmond. The latter is about a seven-hour ride from Washington. Within a short distance are primitive campgrounds, trails for hikers and bikers, and whitewater for rafters and kayakers.
James McCommons is the author of Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service—A Year Spent Riding Across America.
Has Civilization Passed the Environmental Point of No Return?
In a recent article, Scientific American magazine asks this question, as many have asked it for years. The magazine takes a look back at the conclusions drawn about the future of human resource use and possible collapse by the infamously controversial Limits to Growth study — and looks for further guidance to 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, a new book by Jorgen Randers, one of the authors of Limits to Growth.
From the article:
“Remember how Wile E. Coyote, in his obsessive pursuit of the Road Runner, would fall off a cliff? The hapless predator ran straight out off the edge, stopped in midair as only an animated character could, looked beneath him in an eye-popping moment of truth, and plummeted straight down into a puff of dust. Splat!…Don’t look now but we are running in midair, a new book asserts. In 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years (Chelsea Green Publishing), Jorgen Randers of the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo, and one of the original [Limits to Growth] modelers, argues that the second half of the 21st century will bring us near apocalypse in the form of severe global warming.
“Although there is an urban legend that the world will end this year based on a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar, some researchers think a 40-year-old computer program that predicts a collapse of socioeconomic order and massive drop in human population in this century may be on target.”
“Randers’s ideas most closely resemble a World3 scenario in which energy efficiency and renewable energy stave off the worst effects of climate change until after 2050. For the coming few decades, Randers predicts, life on Earth will carry on more or less as before. Wealthy economies will continue to grow, albeit more slowly as investment will need to be diverted to deal with resource constraints and environmental problems, which thereby will leave less capital for creating goods for consumption. Food production will improve: increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will cause plants to grow faster, and warming will open up new areas such as Siberia to cultivation. Population will increase, albeit slowly, to a maximum of about eight billion near 2040. Eventually, however, floods and desertification will start reducing farmland and therefore the availability of grain. Despite humanity’s efforts to ameliorate climate change, Randers predicts that its effects will become devastating sometime after mid-century, when global warming will reinforce itself by, for instance, igniting fires that turn forests into net emitters rather than absorbers of carbon. ‘Very likely, we will have war long before we get there,’ Randers adds grimly. He expects that mass migration from lands rendered unlivable will lead to localized armed conflicts.”
Read the entire article over at Scientific American to hear what another Limits to Growth author, Dennis Meadows, has to say about the future.
Forty years ago Limits to Growth addressed the grand question of how humans would adapt to the physical limitations of planet Earth while in pursuit of limitless growth.
Next month, Chelsea Green will publish 2052, a provocative new book that examines what our future will look like in the next forty years. Written by Jorgen Randers, one of the original authors of Limits, as well as its subsequent updates (Beyond the Limits and Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update), the book probes what the world will actually be like in forty years.
Guess what? It’s not looking good for humanity. That’s what happens when you ignore the warnings first issued in Limits. As in, you can’t push an economic model fueled by limitless profits and resources when, in fact, we live on a finite planet. Mix that in with dysfunctional democracies — such as ours in the United States — that are bought and sold by corporations who profit from our addiction to fossil fuels and the conflicts that erupt as a result (war, etc.)
Earlier this week, the Club of Rome — which commissioned the original report that culminated in Limits to Growth as well as the report that has culminated in 2052 – presented the book’s key findings at the annual conference of the World Wildlife Fund.
In his introduction (video linked here and embedded below) to delivering some of the book’s key findings, Randers related the current work, and warnings, to those issued four decades ago.
“The big question at the outset, was: ‘Will the world overshoot and collapse?’ This was the warning that my friends and I made in 1972 in the Limits to Growth book where we basically said because of the decision delays in international governance systems, the world will be allowed to expand beyond its sustainable capacity, and then sooner or later it will be forced back down to sustainable territory and this will an unpleasant development. We are now forty years down the line and it is perfectly obvious that world has already overshot. At the time, in 1972, our critics said that human society is not going to be so stupid as to let the world move into non-sustainable territory. Well, we now are in unsustainable territory.”
A key example is global greenhouse gas emissions, and the rising temperature of the planet.
The book challenges the US-dominated belief that we can continue to tap the planet’s limited resources to fuel unlimited growth. In fact, the ecological footprint created by this type of economic activity is likely to do just the opposite.
In short, the US will see a general stagnation of growth for decades to come because our dysfunctional democracy — which bends to the needs of the private market rather than the social good — hinders us from focusing on solutions. I mean, let’s face it — members of Congress, media pundits, and even the current administration continue to talk up the need to increase our dependence on fossil fuels by drilling in the Arctic, boosting domestic oil production, or allowing tar sands to be imported from Canada.
Already critics are crying foul — this is some grand socialist, environmental whacko experiment to enslave us all to some UN colony. For some critics, Randers isn’t alarmist enough and they believe he is underestimating how quickly the planet will heat up, and the consequences of it — including poverty, famine and increasingly low birth rates as more families are forced to choose between survival and bringing new lives into the world.
Below is a video from Randers’ presentation at the WWF forum. Watch and determine for yourself whether you believe Randers is over, or under, estimating what could happen in the future.
Keep in mind as you listen: One of the original schematics laid out in Limits to Growth — rapid growth followed by what is called “overshoot” of resources and then a decline — has largely played out as predicted as this Smithsonian article demonstrates.
With such potentially depressing news, it’s nice to see the younger generation taking up the call to arms and suing their elders for screwing up things to badly. Maybe there is hope that change can be forced more rapidly than our failing democratic systems allow.
Producer Phoebe Judge talks with Edward Hoagland, the author of more than 20 books of memoir, essays and novels. He is an acute observer of nature and human nature and he talks about growing up with a stutter and using the natural world to help him find his voice.
Called the best essayist of his time by luminaries like Philip Roth, John Updike, and Edward Abbey, Edward Hoagland published Sex and the River Styx, a collection of essays on aging and love, with Chelsea Green last year.
Just last month, Hoagland was awarded the prestigious John Burroughs medal for nature writing.
Talking to The Story, Hoagland speaks about dealing with his stutter, and what he learned in one of his early jobs, working with animals at a circus.
The segment on Hoagland starts just beyond the half-way point in the overall piece.
The concept of Arbor Day is simple: let’s celebrate our love for trees.
First celebrated in Nebraska City, Nebraska in 1872, Arbor Day has since become an international day of celebration of affection and care for the tall, woody plants that mean so much to us. From heating our homes sustainably to shading our pastured livestock on hot summer days, from sequestering carbon in the soil to producing delicious fruits, and much, much more, trees are very special beings that we ought to cherish.
To help you celebrate this Arbor Day, we’ve selected a bunch of our favorite tree-centric books and put them on sale for 25% off until May 4th. You may be asking, “Hey, do trees really want us to buy books? Wouldn’t that be like chickens cheering about a sale on McNuggets?” And to that I say, “There’s actually chicken in McNuggets!?”
Haha, I kid. But seriously, if you’re asking such a question, you’re pretty smart. You should ask questions like that about all your purchases.
Thankfully, here at Chelsea Green all our books are printed on recycled paper, so you can purchase our books about trees — or any other topic under the umbrella of sustainability — without that particular sort of environmental guilt.
Happy Arbor Day!
A Sanctuary of Trees: Beechnuts, Birdsongs, Baseball Bats and Benedictions
by Gene Logsdon
Logsdon offers a loving tribute to the woods, tracing the roots of his own home groves in Ohio back to the Native Americans and revealing his own history and experiences living in many locations, each of which was different, yet inextricably linked with trees and the natural world.
The Man Who Planted Trees
by Jean Giono, Michael McCurdy, & Andy Lipkis
Twenty years ago Chelsea Green published the first trade edition of The Man Who Planted Trees, a timeless eco-fable about what one person can do to restore the earth. The hero of the story, Elzéard Bouffier, spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day in a desolate, barren section of Provence in the south of France. The result was a total transformation of the landscape-from one devoid of life, with miserable, contentious inhabitants, to one filled with the scent of flowers, the songs of birds, and fresh, flowing water.
The Man who Planted Trees – Book/CD set
by Jean Giono, Michael McCurdy, & Andy Lipkis
Set contains the book and audio CD.
The Man Who Planted Trees – CD
by Jean Giono, Michael McCurdy, & Andy Lipkis
Audio CD version of the acclaimed audio of the story by Jean Giono. The original music was composed and is performed by the Paul Winter consort, and the text is narrated by Robert J. Lurtsema, host of “Morning Pro Musica.”
The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way
by Michael Phillips
The Holistic Orchard demystifies the basic skills everybody should know about the inner-workings of the orchard ecosystem, as well as orchard design, soil biology, and organic health management.
The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist, Second Edition
by Michael Phillips
The author’s personal voice and clear-eyed advice have already made The Apple Grower a classic among small-scale growers and home orchardists. In fact, anyone serious about succeeding with apples needs to have this updated edition on their bookshelf.
The Backyard Orchardist: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees in the Home Garden
by Stella Otto
For every gardener desiring to add apples, pears, cherries, and other tree fruit to their landscape here are hints and solid information from a professional horticulturist and experienced fruit grower.
Creating a Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops
by Martin Crawford
A forest garden is a managed ecosystem modeled on the stucture of young natural woodlands, with a diversity of crops grown in different vertical layers. Unlike in a conventional garden, nature does most of the work for you. Creating a Forest Garden tells you everything you need to know – whether you want to plant a small area in your back garden or develop a larger plot.
A Forest Garden Year DVD
by Martin Crawford
This 49-minute DVD shows how you can apply the principles of forest gardening to spaces big and small. Martin takes viewers through the seasons in his Devon, England, forest garden and shows them how to plan their planting to mimic the layering, density, and diversity of a forest.
A Wood of Our Own, Second Edition
by Julian Evans
In 1985, author Julian Evans decided to buy his own small forest in North Hampshire, fulfilling every forester’s dream. Caring for the wood and its natural inhabitants using both ancient and modern skills, Evans experiences the evolving cycle of woodland life and encourages us to appreciate our environment firsthand in all seasons, all climates.
The Woodland Way: A Permaculture Approach to Sustainable Woodland Management
by Ben Law
Ben Law is an experienced and innovative woodsman with a deep commitment to practical sustainability. Here he presents a radical alternative to conventional woodland management that creates biodiverse, healthy environments, yields a great variety of value-added products, provides a secure livelihood for woodland workers and farmers, and benefits the local community.
Common Sense Forestry
by Hans Morsbach
Common Sense Forestry relates thirty years’ experience of an environmentally conscious woodland owner. Much of the book is devoted to starting a forest and how to maintain it. It answers such questions as: What seedlings to buy? Should your forest be monoculture or a mixed forest? What is the payback for planting and maintaining a forest? Is seeding a good way to start a forest? How should I prune? How, when and whether to thin? How to herbicide and when?
The Woodland Year
by Ben Law
The Woodland Year provides a fascinating insight into every aspect of sustainable woodland management, including the cycles of nature, seasonal tasks, wild food gathering, wine making, mouthwatering and useful recipes, coppice crafts, round-pole timber-frame eco-building (pioneered by Ben), nature conservation, species diversity, tree profiles, and the use of horses for woodland work.
While movie-goers recently lined up to see the Disney-fication of The Lorax (replete with marketing tie-ins to dish soap and automobiles … hmm), we here at Chelsea Green were reminded of an unflattering side to that beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss — one you don’t read about very often.
Before I give you the dirt on Dr. Seuss’ dark side, I’ll be the first to say that Dr. Seuss has brought us some of the great allegorical books of the modern age — The Lorax, The Sneetches, The Butter Battle Book, Dr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? (OK, maybe not so much the last one) — and each of his tomes is dog-eared and readily recited in my household.
However, before Dr. Seuss emerged as one of the great children’s book authors he toiled away as a cartoonist under his given name — Ted Geisel. Geisel inked cartoons for some of the nation’s major chemical companies who were looking for ways to dump their wartime nasty concoctions on an unsuspecting US public.
Voila! Pesticides and other agro-chemicals were born.
As a result, we here at Chelsea Green are offering —for a limited time — a salient chapter from Will’s book as a free download. In this chapter, Allen delves into Geisel’s early cartooning work replete with pro-pesticide, pro-patriotic toons for the agrichemical industry. In particular, Geisel helped to make Flit — and the Flit gun — a household word in this “war on bugs.”
As Allen notes in his book, many believe the positive, pro-environmental themes of The Lorax stemmed from Geisel’s own attempt to scrub clean his early cartooning legacy that helped to introduce chemicals into the food supply and everyday life.
Allen notes, “Perhaps Dr. Seuss realized his earlier mistakes and indiscretions with Standard Oil’s Flit and tried to make amends with The Lorax. Geisel must have known that Flit’s cartoons and his World War II cartoons for DDT had an enormous impact on the public’s use of pesticides and acceptance of DDT.”
He must have known, right?
PS: Will Allen is also pretty active right now in Vermont’s effort to pass legislation requiring food that contains GMOs to be labeled as such. Check out his AlterNet article detailing Monsanto’s threat to sue if the law is passed, and find out how you can help by chiming in on our Facebook page.
Gene Logsdon, a prolific writer and fascinating farmer, has just published his latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees: Beechnuts, Birdsongs, Baseball Bats, and Benedictions. It’s available now in the Chelsea Green bookstore, check it out!
A Sanctuary of Trees follows Gene’s life from place to place — and from forest to forest — as he discovers an ever-deeper need and appreciation for trees throughout his life. From heating his house in winter, to being able to grow a fence if he needs one, his woodlot truly represents a sanctuary, a solace, and a place of inspiration.
Just before the book hit stores, The Courier, a local paper from Gene’s neck of the woods in Ohio got the chance to talk to him about the new book, farming, and the importance of trees in our everyday lives.
For the love of trees. By Sara Arthurs, Staff Writer
UPPER SANDUSKY — Gene Logsdon has loved trees all his life and is on a mission: to get people to focus on wood rather than plastic.
Our modern culture focuses on things made out of plastic to the exclusion of wood and trees and nature, he said. Logsdon, of Upper Sandusky, has written several fiction and nonfiction books. His most recent, “A Sanctuary of Trees: Beechnuts, Birdsongs, Baseball Bats, and Benedictions,” comes out on April 27 through Chelsea Green Publishing. The purpose of the book is to “try to remind people that we once were a wood culture, you know, not a plastic culture. … We’re getting too far away from that,” he said.
The book is a mixture of autobiography and nature writing, talking largely about how Logsdon’s own relationship with trees has changed since his childhood. But he also explores subjects such as a controversy over sassafras tea, which Logsdon believes to be safe despite a governmental ban on the beverage, and trees’ resilience and ability to spread their seeds despite Dutch elm disease and emerald ash borer.
And he writes of how heat from wood kept him and his fellow country dwellers from freezing during a blizzard.
In the book Logsdon touches upon many different issues involved with trees, from objects that can be made from wood to the many edible fruits and nuts that grow on trees to the wildflowers and animals that make their home in or near trees.
Asked what prompted the book, Logsdon said simply, “I love the woods.” He said it was also a “sneaky way” to work autobiography into a book about nature.
In his own life, he said, every time “when I thought I was getting away from the woods, I would always end up back there.” For example, he went off to boarding school only to realize the school was in the midst of the woods.
Logsdon talks about how to identify many species of trees and appreciate the virtues of each. White oaks are probably his favorite, he said.
“They last 200 years if you give them a chance,” he said.
The hard wood of this tree is good for fuel and for building furniture, among other uses, he said.
Logsdon said people in cities as well as rural areas love trees. City parks provide urban dwellers a chance to get close to trees. In the first chapter of the book he talks about Central Park in New York City.
Fly over nearly anywhere in an airplane and even the cities may look like forests from above, with trees everywhere, he said.
“People love having trees around,” Logsdon said.
For people who live in cities, parks are “a great way to learn about trees,” Logsdon said. Others may be able to buy land in the country. In Ohio, buying 5 acres of woodland is more affordable than in some parts of the country and “you’re buying yourself your own vacation spot, your own retreat from anxiety,” Logsdon said.
One area Logsdon is interested in is Shaker Heights in Cleveland, where there are trees two or three centuries old.
“This is really old-growth forest,” he said.
Logsdon, 80, said attitudes about trees have changed in his lifetime. When he was a child it was in vogue to clear the land of trees for farming and there was “a feeling that trees were pests,” he said. Then attitudes swung the other way and trees became considered “sacred” and something that shouldn’t be cut down.
Logsdon said as trees age it is natural to harvest them for wood. Trees grow old and die, and new trees are planted, he said.
Logsdon said trees are interesting not only on their own but because many flowers live under them and many animals live in them.
“It’s all the flora and fauna that comes along with woodland,” he said.
Trees also cleanse the air, increasing the amount of oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide, Logsdon said.
Logsdon said he also enjoys the beauty of wood.
“It’s much prettier than plastic,”he said. “And you can make all sorts of things out of it.”
In China, bamboo is used to make bicycles, he said.
“The tensile strength of bamboo, if you work it right, is just as good as metal,” he said.
Different types of wood have different grains and colors and can be used for woodworking, Logsdon said.
Logsdon said wood is also a good fuel for heating your home, although there are pollution concerns in cities, but in the country it is frequently used. With concerns about energy and oil prices, wood may play a role, he said.
Logsdon said his grandchildren, when they walk through the woods, tend to be looking at electronic gadgets. The younger generation is ” so taken up with their cellphones and their iPads,” he said.
But Logsdon is not opposed to technology altogether and said the Internet was a great help when he was researching the book.
Logsdon said his books, both fiction and nonfiction, focus on rural life. One novel he wrote, “Pope Mary and the Church of Almighty Good Food,” has to do with the local food movement. One of Logsdon’s next projects will be to write a nonfiction book on the subject.
He said at first he thought the interest in locally grown food was “just another fad” but he has changed this opinion.
“I really think there’s something very significant going on here,” he said.
People who may have different ideas about politics and religion may be united in their desire to eat good, locally farmed food, he said. He wants to look at whether there is a way to “keep all these people in the same camp.”
A Sanctuary of Trees is available now.
Chelsea Green is proud to announce that two of its authors have been named finalists for major book awards, while a third is a finalist for a readers’ choice award.
The news of these three authors comes on the heels of essayist Edward Hoagland being named the 2012 winner of the John Burroughs Medal, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for environmental essay writing, for his book Sex and the River Styx. He will be awarded the medal at a ceremony in April.
This trio of authors addresses everything from the impact of the decades-old wars fought in Afghanistan, cooking seasonally for both flavor and health from homegrown and wild herbs and edibles, and gardening for resiliency and community.
The authors are:
• Ed Girardet is one of five finalists to receive the 2012 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism for his memoir, Killing the Cranes. Girardet’s memoir reflects on his more than three decades of experience covering war-torn Afghanistan, and the impact this has had on Afghani people. Established in 1987, the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism is given annually to a journalist whose work has brought public attention to important issues and includes a $15,000 cash prize. The winner will be announced on June 5.
• Didi Emmons is a finalist for this year’s International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) cookbook awards for her book Wild Flavors: One Chef’s Transformative Year Cooking from Eva’s Farm, which offers wide-ranging recipes that reflect the shifting seasonal harvest but also show us how wild edibles and cultivated herbs add flavor to our food and improve our health. IACP is considered the gold standard among cookbook awards, and has been presenting its awards for more than 25 years. Winners will be announced on April 2.
• Carol Deppe has been selected as a finalist in the 2012 About.com Readers’ Choice Awards for “Best New Gardening Book Since 2010” for her book The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times. Deppe’s book demonstrates how resilient gardeners and their gardens can flourish even in challenging times and help their communities to survive and thrive through everything that comes their way — from tomorrow through the next thousand years About.com — which is owned by the New York Times Company — is a consumer-focused website that offers expert advice and reviews on a wide variety of topics. Winners will be announced March 30 (voting runs from Feb. 22 to March 21).
Carol has also launched a new seed catalog, which editor Ben Watson wrote about here.