Chelsea Green Publishing

Not One Drop

eBook: 9781603581110
Pub. Date November 15, 2008

Not One Drop

Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

By Riki Ott
Foreword by John Perkins

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
November 15, 2008

$21.95 $17.56

Betrayed by oilmen’s promises in the 1970s, the people of Prince William Sound, Alaska, awaken on March 14, 1989, to the nation’s largest oil spill. Not One Drop is an extraordinary tale of ordinary lives ripped apart by disaster and of community healing through building relationships of trust. This story offers critical lessons for a society traumatized by political divides and facing the looming catastrophe of global climate change.

Author Riki Ott, a rare combination of commercial salmon “fisherm’am” and PhD marine biologist, describes firsthand the impacts of oil companies’ broken promises when the Exxon Valdez spills most of its cargo and despoils thousands of miles of shore. Ott illustrates in stirring fashion the oil industry’s 20-year trail of pollution and deception that predated the tragic 1989 spill and delves deep into the disruption to the fishing community of Cordova over the following 19 years. In vivid detail, she describes the human trauma coupled inextricably with that of the sound’s wildlife and its long road to recovery.

Ott critically examines shifts in scientific understanding of oil-spill effects on ecosystems and communities, exposes fundamental flaws in governance and the legal system, and contrasts hard won spill-prevention and spill-response measures in the sound to dangerous conditions on the Alaska pipeline. Her human story, varied background, professional training, and activist heart lead readers to the root of the problem: a clash of human rights and corporate power embedded in law and small-town life.

Not One Drop is as much an example of how too many corporate owners and political leaders betray everyday citizens as it is one of the universal struggle to maintain heart, to find the courage to overcome disaster, and to forge a new path from despair to hope.


"Ott is the Erin Brockovitch of the Exxon Valdez oil disaster. In Not One Drop she recounts a riveting tale of loss, intrigue, cover-ups, and courage--and in the process helps us all see why we will be glad to leave behind the age of oil."--Fran Korten, Publisher of YES! Magazine

"Riki Ott, a modern day Joan of Arc, was in the right place at the right time to become witness to one of the most egregious crimes against man and nature in modern day history. Riki has proven through her willingness to expose the corporate corruption and cover up of the Exxon Valdez oil spill that she is a courageous, caring, and passionate voice for the people and the planet."--Laura Turner Seydel, Chair of the Captain Planet Foundation and cofounder of Mothers & Others for Clean Air

"Aldo Leopold wrote, 'A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.'The tragic Exxon Valdez oil spill is wrong!Riki Ott is the right person--at the right place--at the right time. Her expertise as an author and as a marine toxicologist alerts us to the true cost of our addiction to oil--not just monetary cost, but ecological cost. Democracy and the planet are at stake."--Nina Bradley, Director of the Aldo Leopold Foundation

"Riki Ott takes the debate on fossil fuels to a new level in this compelling book. When will the oil companies wake up to realize that--just as U.S. car companies missed the boat on fuel efficient cars--the ExxonMobils of the world need to diversify the types of energy they offer? Somehow, the people of Cordova, Alaska, knew the truth before the oil executives or the politicians they elected."--David Rockefeller, Jr., Founder, Sailors for the Sea

“As you read the following pages, allow your heart to break. Imagine Cordova as your home and Prince William Sound as your backyard. When you set the book down, make an absolute, iron-clad commitment to join other men and women who are determined to create a world that future generations will want to inhabit.”--John Perkins, from the Foreword

"Not One Drop unflinchingly documents the full measure of sacrifice made by a few so the rest of us can get our next fix of oil. The price at the pump must now also be measured in shattered communities and our humanity itself. Bravo to Riki Ott for delivering another knockout punch to our petroleum-powered complacency."--Terry Tamminen, Cullman Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, and former Secretary of the California EPA

"Millions of words have been written about the Exxon Valdez spill. It's been my (sometimes dreary and depressing) duty to read most of them. But of all the official reports, learned papers, TV documentaries, newspaper articles and books, this is by far the best. Riki has written her masterpiece. It's not just about an oil spill and about its dire effects on a community of a few thousand fishing families in a remote and beautiful corner of the North Pacific; it's bigger than that. The themes are community values and corporate lies; the endless tussle between truth and falsehood, between good and evil.Surprisingly, Riki's long-awaited book is more cheerful than I expected; she meticulously logs the catastrophe and its aftermath (and hints at the sacrifices in her personal life that all this campaigning entailed), but out of the despair there is hope here--hope that a better-informed, more vigilant and more self-confident public will follow her example and challenge the corporate arrogance that continues to make so many people's lives an avoidable misery, worldwide."--Dr. Jonathan Wills, writer, wildlife guide, and Shetland (Scotland) Councillor

Publishers Weekly-
Ott, a former Prince William Sound fisherman and longtime activist around the Exxon Valdez Alaska oil spill of 1989, pours plenty of passion into this exhaustive account of the financial and psychological toll on the residents of Cordova, the town most affected by the disaster. Her book is a scathing indictment of Exxon's take-no-prisoners legal roadblocks. She enumerates the full horror of the spill's aftermath: the 1989 loss of $50 million in fishery revenue, a botched cleanup effort, the onslaught of oil-company lobbyists and continuing fish habitat degradation. Ott focuses on Cordova's struggle to rebuild a sense of community while coping with personal bankruptcies and failing marriages, and covers the legal skirmishing for compensation for the more than 3,000 fishermen who filed claims, closing with a melancholy coda following the Supreme Court's decision to reduce the original jury award against Exxon from more than $5 billion to about $500 million--"devastating news" for those "whose lives entered a state of turmoil some 19 years ago." Though Ott's narrative is often bogged down with too much detail, she covers an enormous amount of ground with engaging humanity.

Not One Drop is a gripping story of what happened in Cordova, a small fishing village of some 2,500 people, as a result of the 4.11 million gallons of oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez tanker into Prince William Sound on March 14, 1989. Developed from interviews with townspeople, state and federal officials, and politicians, this book describes a classic case of the worst of commercialism versus the best of environmentalism, with the former aided and abetted by those with vested interests. Beginning with a description of marine biologist Ott's idyllic but demanding life in commercial fishing, the four subsequent parts of the work, "Promises," "Betrayal," "Courage," and "New Beginnings," provide a comprehensive inventory of the events that devastated the social fabric of Cordova. The superbly detailed "Timeline" covers the 1968 discovery of oil on the Alaska North Slope up to the June 25, 2008, Supreme Court decision limiting punitive damages from the spill. The book includes color photographs of happy and sad times as well as ones showing oil-slicked waterfowl and humans, many of whom suffered from a respiratory condition known as "Valdez Crud." Detailed listing of supporting notes and excellent index. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels of readership.


Riki Ott

Marine oil pollution expert Riki Ott, PhD, was on the scene before, during, and after one of the biggest environmental disasters in the United States--the Exxon Valdez oil spill. A former commercial salmon "fisherma'am" in Prince William Sound, she experienced firsthand the spill's effects, including environmental devastation, economic losses to the fishing industry, and psychosocial trauma to the close-knit community. 1993's spill-related salmon- and herring-population collapses prompted Ott to retire from fishing and found three nonprofit organizations to deal with the area's lingering social, economic, and environmental harm. A popular and dynamic lecturer, her talks weave the legacy of the Exxon Valdez spill into current issues of public health, environmental pollution, and our energy future--and inspire individuals to take action.


Separation of Corporation and State: The 28th Amendment

Dr. Riki Ott, author of Not One Drop, speaks about oil spill

Live Locally: Dr. Riki Ott Recommends Local Sustainability

20 Years After Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Alaskan Coastline Remains Contaminated

1989 Exxon Meeting in Cordova, Alaska

The Oil Polluting Alaska Twenty Years after Exxon Valdez

Riki Ott discussing her book Not One Drop

Riki Ott discussing her book Not One Drop

Riki Ott on the environment: "We are running out of time." 1/3

Riki Ott on the environment: "We are running out of time." 1/3


What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming

What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming

By Per Espen Stoknes

Why does knowing more mean believing—and doing—less? A prescription for change

The more facts that pile up about global warming, the greater the resistance to them grows, making it harder to enact measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare communities for the inevitable change ahead.

It is a catch-22 that starts, says psychologist and economist Per Espen Stoknes, from an inadequate understanding of the way most humans think, act, and live in the world around them. With dozens of examples—from the private sector to government agencies—Stoknes shows how to retell the story of climate change and, at the same time, create positive, meaningful actions that can be supported even by deniers.

In What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming, Stoknes not only masterfully identifies the five main psychological barriers to climate action, but addresses them with five strategies for how to talk about global warming in a way that creates action and solutions, not further inaction and despair.

These strategies work with, rather than against, human nature. They are social, positive, and simple—making climate-friendly behaviors easy and convenient. They are also story-based, to help add meaning and create community, and include the use of signals, or indicators, to gauge feedback and be constantly responsive.

Whether you are working on the front lines of the climate issue, immersed in the science, trying to make policy or educate the public, or just an average person trying to make sense of the cognitive dissonance or grapple with frustration over this looming issue, What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming moves beyond the psychological barriers that block progress and opens new doorways to social and personal transformation.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming

Jorgen Randers, Per Espen Stoknes

Paperback $24.95

The Song of the Earth

The Song of the Earth

The Song of the Earth is the fourth and final volume in the Four Keys to Sustainable Communities series and brings together the voices of leading visionaries in science, spirituality, indigenous wisdom, innovative community, and social activism to paint a powerful portrait of new possibilities for the human family.

People across the globe yearn for a new civilization of harmony and vibrant cooperation among all peoples—living in balance with the Earth. This vision is not a dreamy fantasy; it is the birthright of humanity.

Stories, interviews, articles, and ideas from all over the world are collected to create an integral worldview for others to build upon. “The Song of the Earth contains voices that need to be heard, voices that affirm the unity of all life.”—Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

The Song of the Earth is the attempt to create an integral picture. It is the call to explore the marvelous web of life on our planet. It asks that we consciously design gentle, sustainable lifestyles and communities that honor diversity in all forms. The celebrated list of contributors includes Satish Kumar, Wangari Maathai, Joanna Macy, Chris Johnstone, Duane Elgin, Thomas Berry, Elisabet Sahtouris, Ross and Hildur Jackson, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, David Korten, The Venerable Dugu Choegyal Rinpoche, and Stephan Harding.

The Four Keys represent the four dimensions of sustainable design—the Worldview, the Social, the Ecological and the Economic. This series is endorsed by UNESCO and is an official contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. The other books of the series are Beyond You and Me, Gaian Economics, and Designing Ecological Habitats. The Four Keys to Sustainable Communities series was completed in 2012 and is now available in the U.S. for the first time.

Available in: Paperback

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The Song of the Earth

Maddy Harland, William Keepin

Paperback $29.95

Living at Nature's Pace

Living at Nature's Pace

By Gene Logsdon

For decades, Logsdon and his family have run a viable family farm. Along the way, he has become a widely influential journalist and social critic, documenting in hundreds of essays for national and regional magazines the crisis in conventional agri-business and the boundless potential for new forms of farming that reconcile tradition with ecology.

Logsdon reminds us that healthy and economical agriculture must work "at nature's pace," instead of trying to impose an industrial order on the natural world. Foreseeing a future with "more farmers, not fewer," he looks for workable models among the Amish, among his lifelong neighbors in Ohio, and among resourceful urban gardeners and a new generation of defiantly unorthodox organic growers creating an innovative farmers-market economy in every region of the country.

Nature knows how to grow plants and raise animals; it is human beings who are in danger of losing this age-old expertise, substituting chemical additives and artificial technologies for the traditional virtues of fertility, artistry, and knowledge of natural processes. This new edition of Logsdon's important collection of essays and articles (first published by Pantheon in 1993) contains six new chapters taking stock of American farm life at this turn of the century.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Living at Nature's Pace

Gene Logsdon, Wendell Berry

Paperback $25.00

Defending Beef

Defending Beef

By Nicolette Hahn Niman

For decades it has been nearly universal dogma among environmentalists and health advocates that cattle and beef are public enemy number one.

But is the matter really so clear cut? Hardly, argues environmental lawyer turned rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman in her new book, Defending Beef.

The public has long been led to believe that livestock, especially cattle, erode soils, pollute air and water, damage riparian areas, and decimate wildlife populations.

In Defending Beef, Hahn Niman argues that cattle are not inherently bad for either the Earth or our own nutritional health. In fact, properly managed livestock play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems by functioning as surrogates for herds of wild ruminants that once covered the globe. Hahn Niman argues that dispersed, grass-fed, small-scale farms can and should become the basis for American food production, replacing the factory farms that harm animals and the environment.

The author—a longtime vegetarian—goes on to dispel popular myths about how eating beef is bad for our bodies. She methodically evaluates health claims made against beef, demonstrating that such claims have proven false.  She shows how foods from cattle—milk and meat, particularly when raised entirely on grass—are healthful, extremely nutritious, and an irreplaceable part of the world’s food system.

Grounded in empirical scientific data and with living examples from around the world, Defending Beef builds a comprehensive argument that cattle can help to build carbon-sequestering soils to mitigate climate change, enhance biodiversity, help prevent desertification, and provide invaluable nutrition.

Defending Beef is simultaneously a book about big ideas and the author’s own personal tale—she starts out as a skeptical vegetarian and eventually becomes an enthusiastic participant in environmentally sustainable ranching.

While no single book can definitively answer the thorny question of how to feed the Earth’s growing population, Defending Beef makes the case that, whatever the world’s future food system looks like, cattle and beef can and must be part of the solution.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Defending Beef

Nicolette Hahn Niman

Paperback $19.95