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


Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

By Gary Paul Nabhan

How to harvest water and nutrients, select drought-tolerant plants, and create natural diversity

Because climatic uncertainty has now become "the new normal," many farmers, gardeners and orchard-keepers in North America are desperately seeking ways to adapt their food production to become more resilient in the face of such "global weirding." This book draws upon the wisdom and technical knowledge from desert farming traditions all around the world to offer time-tried strategies for:

  • Building greater moisture-holding capacity and nutrients in soils
  • Protecting fields from damaging winds, drought, and floods
  • Harvesting water from uplands to use in rain gardens and terraces filled with perennial crops
  • Delecting fruits, nuts, succulents, and herbaceous perennials that are best suited to warmer, drier climates

Gary Paul Nabhan is one of the world's experts on the agricultural traditions of arid lands. For this book he has visited indigenous and traditional farmers in the Gobi Desert, the Arabian Peninsula, the Sahara Desert, and Andalusia, as well as the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Painted deserts of North America, to learn firsthand their techniques and designs aimed at reducing heat and drought stress on orchards, fields, and dooryard gardens. This practical book also includes colorful "parables from the field" that exemplify how desert farmers think about increasing the carrying capacity and resilience of the lands and waters they steward. It is replete with detailed descriptions and diagrams of how to implement these desert-adapted practices in your own backyard, orchard, or farm.

This unique book is useful not only for farmers and permaculturists in the arid reaches of the Southwest or other desert regions. Its techniques and prophetic vision for achieving food security in the face of climate change may well need to be implemented across most of North America over the next half-century, and are already applicable in most of the semiarid West, Great Plains, and the U.S. Southwest and adjacent regions of Mexico.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Gary Paul Nabhan, Bill McKibben

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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

Sex and the River Styx

Sex and the River Styx

By Edward Hoagland

Called the best essayist of his time by luminaries like Philip Roth, John Updike, and Edward Abbey, Edward Hoagland brings readers his ultimate collection. In Sex and the River Styx, the author's sharp eye and intense curiosity shine through in essays that span his childhood exploring the woods in his rural Connecticut, his days as a circus worker, and his travels the world over in his later years.

Here, we meet Hoagland at his best: traveling to Kampala, Uganda, to meet a family he'd been helping support only to find a divide far greater than he could have ever imagined; reflecting on aging, love, and sex in a deeply personal, often surprising way; and bringing us the wonder of wild places, alongside the disparity of losing them, and always with a twist that brings the genre of nature writing to vastly new heights. His keen dissection of social realities and the human spirit will both startle and lure readers as they meet African matriarchs, Tibetan yak herders, circus aerialists, and the strippers who entertained college boys in 1950s Boston. Says Howard Frank Mosher in his foreword, the self-described rhapsodist "could fairly be considered our last, great transcendentalist."

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Edward Hoagland, Howard Frank Mosher

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Grass, Soil, Hope

Grass, Soil, Hope

By Courtney White

This book tackles an increasingly crucial question: What can we do about the seemingly intractable challenges confronting all of humanity today, including climate change, global hunger, water scarcity, environmental stress, and economic instability?

The quick answers are: Build topsoil. Fix creeks. Eat meat from pasture-raised animals.

Scientists maintain that a mere 2 percent increase in the carbon content of the planet’s soils could offset 100 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere. But how could this be accomplished? What would it cost? Is it even possible? 

Yes, says author Courtney White, it is not only possible, but essential for the long-term health and sustainability of our environment and our economy.

Right now, the only possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is through plant photosynthesis and related land-based carbon sequestration activities. These include a range of already existing, low-tech, and proven practices: composting, no-till farming, climate-friendly livestock practices, conserving natural habitat, restoring degraded watersheds and rangelands, increasing biodiversity, and producing local food.

In Grass, Soil, Hope, the author shows how all these practical strategies can be bundled together into an economic and ecological whole, with the aim of reducing atmospheric CO2 while producing substantial co-benefits for all living things. Soil is a huge natural sink for carbon dioxide. If we can draw increasing amounts carbon out of the atmosphere and store it safely in the soil then we can significantly address all the multiple challenges that now appear so intractable.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Grass, Soil, Hope

Michael Pollan, Courtney White

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