Chelsea Green Publishing

Seeing Nature

Pages:193 pages
Book Art:Black and white illustrations
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781890132422
Pub. Date December 01, 1999

Seeing Nature

Deliberate Encounters with the Visible World

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
December 01, 1999


Seeing Nature is a series of true stories or parables that offer tools for understanding relationships in the natural world. Many of the stories take the reader to wild landscapes, including canyons, tundra, and mountain ridges, while others contemplate the human-made world: water-diversion trenches and supermarket check-out lines. At one point, Krafel discovers a world in a one-inch-square patch of ordinary ground.

Inspiring for parents and teachers seeking to encourage excitement about the positive role of people in nature, Krafel's work harkens to St. Exupery's The Little Prince, Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and Jean Giono's The Man Who Planted Trees. As Barbara Damrosch has noted:

[This book] is a gift.... With curiosity, wit, and a spare and graceful style, Krafel notes why birds in flocks land as they do, how islands can move upstream in a river, how kelp forests, swaying gently, break the force of the sea's power, how tundra plants create whole ecosystems on bare rock from mere specks of life. Yet there are no long-winded sermons about the woods, or cute anthropomorphizations of animals. The book's economical, unsentimental style is part of its originality.

Paul Krafel's years as a park ranger afforded him time to walk and think—his job was to observe the world around him. He is now a teacher, creating a curriculum for young people that is built on a startlingly simple truth: The world around us is an extended conversation between "upward spirals"—nature in regenerative, procreative modes—and downward spirals toward entropy and disintegration. As nature refreshes and rebuilds, the downward spirals are overcome. Nature's process becomes the process of replenishing hope.


Publishers Weekly-
Krafel gets his insights while exploring granite basins deep in the Rockies that once cradled Ice Age glaciers, or while watching a million heliotropic buttercups' synchronized turning toward the sun on the Arctic tundra, or while climbing into an ancient cliff dwelling that housed the Hopis' ancestors. His deeply personal, lyrical meditation beckons readers to see the world as a spiral of coevolution, whereby life forms grow symbiotically through small, accumulating changes, rather than in linear cause-and-effect fashion. A former park ranger and naturalist with the National Park Service for eight years, Krafel is now a teacher in Northern California, where he and his wife founded Chrysalis, a chartered public school operating out of a natural science museum, with emphasis on nature study outdoors. Originally self-published 10 years ago under the title Shifting, this quietly ambitious book is an individualistic attempt to reorient everyday observation along the lines of the Gaia hypothesis formulated by scientists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, who envision Earth as a single, gigantic, self-regulating organism. The book unfolds as a series of perceptual exercises and intense interactions with the natural world. Though Krafel seems to aspire to the soaring lyricism of Annie Dillard or Loren Eiseley, he seldom achieves their profundity, and while some of his examples are illuminating, others are murky or pedestrian. Nevertheless, his inquiry beautifully underscores his central message that we tend to become what we practice: hope spirals into new possibilities, while cynicism restricts one's range of vision and begets more cynicism. Line drawings.


Paul Krafel

Paul Krafel and his family live in Cottonwood, California, where he is a founding teacher at Chrysalis, a chartered public school emphasizing nature study.


The End of Stationarity

The End of Stationarity

By Mark Schapiro

Scientists have devised a new term to explain the turmoil caused by climate change: the end of stationarity. It means that our baselines for rainfall, water flow, temperature, and extreme weather are no longer relevant—that making predictions based on past experience is no longer possible. But climate change has upended baselines in the financial world, too, disrupting the global economy in ways that are just becoming clear, leaving us unable to assess risk, and causing us to fundamentally re-think economic priorities and existing business models. 

At the heart of that financial unrest is the role of carbon, and as the world moves toward making more and more polluters pay to emit it, a financial mystery unfolds: What are the costs? Who has the responsibility to pay for them? Who do you pay? How do you pay? And how will those costs ripple through the economy?

These are the questions veteran journalist Mark Schapiro attempts to answer as he illuminates the struggle to pinpoint carbon's true costs and allocate them fairly--all while bumping up against the vagaries of the free market, the lobbying power of corporations, the political maneuverings of countries, and the tolerance of everyday consumers buying a cup of coffee, a tank of gas, or an airplane ticket. 

Along the way, Schapiro tracks the cost of carbon through the drought-ridden farmland of California, the jungles of Brazil, the world's greatest manufacturing center in China, the carbon-trading center of Europe, and the high-tech crime world that carbon markets have inspired. He even tracks the cost of carbon through the skies themselves, where efforts to put a price tag on the carbon left by airplanes in the no-man's land of the atmosphere created what amounted to a quiet but powerful global trade war. 

The End of Stationarity deftly depicts the wild, new carbon economy, and shows us how nations, emerging and developed, teeter on its brink. Originally published in hardcover as Carbon Shock, the book is updated throughout and includes a new afterword, based on the Paris climate talks.

Available in: Paperback

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The End of Stationarity

Mark Schapiro

Paperback $17.95

Out on a Limb

Out on a Limb

By Benjamin Kilham

In Out on a Limb, Ben Kilham invites us into the world he has come to know best: the world of black bears. 

For decades, Kilham has studied wild black bears in a vast tract of Northern New Hampshire woodlands. At times, he has also taken in orphaned infants—feeding them, walking them through the forest for months to help them decipher their natural world, and eventually reintroducing them back into the wild. Once free, the orphaned bears still regard him as their mother. And one of these bears, now a 17-year-old female, has given him extraordinary access to her daily life, opening a rare window into how she and the wild bears she lives among carry out their daily lives, raise their young, and communicate.

Witnessing this world has led to some remarkable discoveries.  For years, scientists have considered black bears to be mostly solitary.  Kilham's observations, though, reveal the extraordinary interactions wild bears have with each other. They form friendships and alliances; abide by a code of conduct that keeps their world orderly; and when their own food supplies are ample, they even help out other bears in need.  

Could these cooperative behaviors, he asks, mimic behavior that existed in the animal that became human?  In watching bears, do we see our earliest forms of communications unfold? 

Kilham's dyslexia once barred him from getting an advanced academic degree, securing funding for his research, and publishing his observations in the scientific literature. After being shunned by the traditional scientific community, though, Kilham’s unique findings now interest bear researchers worldwide. His techniques even aid scientists working with pandas in China and bears in Russia.

Moreover, the observation skills that fueled Kilham’s exceptional work turned out to be born of his dyslexia. His ability to think in pictures and decipher systems makes him a unique interpreter of the bear's world.

Out on a Limb delivers Kilham’s fascinating glimpse at the inner world of bears, and also makes a passionate case for science, and education in general, to open its doors to different ways of learning and researching—doors that could lead to far broader realms of discovery.

Kilham and his work have been featured in five internationally televised documentaries. In addition to being on over forty nationally broadcast radio shows including National Public Radio, he has appeared on The Today ShowGood Morning AmericaABC Nightly NewsThe David Letterman Show, and more.

Available in: Hardcover

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Out on a Limb

Benjamin Kilham, Temple Grandin

Hardcover $24.95

Dazzle Gradually

Dazzle Gradually

By Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan

At the crossroads of philosophy and science, the sometimes-dry topics of evolution and ecology come alive in this new collection of essays--many never before anthologized. Learn how technology may be a sort of second nature, how the systemic human fungus Candida albicans can lead to cravings for carrot cake and beer, how the presence of life may be why there's water on Earth, and many other fascinating facts.

The essay "Metametazoa" presents perspectives on biology in a philosophical context, demonstrating how the intellectual librarian, pornographer, and political agitator Georges Bataille was influenced by Russian mineralogist Vladimir Vernadsky and how this led to his notion of the absence of meaning in the face of the sun--which later influenced Jacques Derrida, thereby establishing a causal chain of influence from the hard sciences to topics as abstract as deconstruction and post-modernism.

In "Spirochetes Awake" the bizarre connection between syphilis and genius in the life of Friedrich Nietzsche is traced. The astonishing similarities of the Acquired-Immune-Deficiency-Syndrome symptoms with those of chronic spirochete infection, it is argued, contrast sharply with the lack of evidence that "HIV is the cause of AIDS". Throughout these readings we are dazzled by the intimacy and necessity of relationships between us and our other planetmates. In our ignorance as "civilized" people we dismiss, disdain, and deny our kinship with the only productive life forms that sustain this living planet.

Available in: Paperback

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Dazzle Gradually

Dorion Sagan, Lynn Margulis, Roald Hoffman

Paperback $25.00

The Zero Waste Solution

The Zero Waste Solution

By Paul Connett

Waste is something we all make every day but often pay little attention to.  That's changing, and model programs around the globe show the many different ways a community can strive for, and achieve, zero-waste status.

Scientist-turned-activist Paul Connett, a leading international figure in decades-long battles to fight pollution, has championed efforts to curtail overconsumption and keep industrial toxins out of our air and drinking water and bodies. But he’s best known around the world for leading efforts to help communities deal with their waste in sustainable ways—in other words, to eliminate and reuse waste rather than burn it or stow it away in landfills.

In The Zero Waste Solution, Connett profiles the most successful zero-waste initiatives around the world, showing activists, planners, and entrepreneurs how to re-envision their community’s waste-handling process—by consuming less, turning organic waste into compost, recycling, reusing other waste,  demanding nonwasteful product design, and creating jobs and bringing community members together in the process. The book also exposes the greenwashing behind renewed efforts to promote waste incinerators as safe, nontoxic energy suppliers, and gives detailed information on how communities can battle incineration projects that, even at their best, emit dangerous particles into the atmosphere, many of which remain unregulated or poorly regulated.

An important toolkit for anyone interested in creating sustainable communities, generating secure local jobs, and keeping toxic alternatives at bay.

Available in: Paperback

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The Zero Waste Solution

Paul Connett, Jeremy Irons

Paperback $24.95