Humanity is deeply committed to living along the world’s shores, but a catastrophic storm like Sandy—which took hundreds of lives and caused many billions of dollars in damages—shines a bright light at how costly and vulnerable life on a shoreline can be. Taking Chances offers a wide-ranging exploration of the diverse challenges of Sandy and asks if this massive event will really change how coastal living and development is managed.
Bringing together leading researchers—including biologists, urban planners, utilities experts, and climatologists, among others—Taking Chances illuminates reactions to the dangers revealed by Sandy. Focusing on New Jersey, New York, and other hard-hit areas, the contributors explore whether Hurricane Sandy has indeed transformed our perceptions of coastal hazards, if we have made radically new plans in response to Sandy, and what we think should be done over the long run to improve coastal resilience. Surprisingly, one essay notes that while a large majority of New Jerseyans identified Sandy with climate change and favored carefully assessing the likelihood of damage from future storms before rebuilding the Shore, their political leaders quickly poured millions into reconstruction. Indeed, much here is disquieting. One contributor points out that investors scared off from further investments on the shore are quickly replaced by new investors, sustaining or increasing the overall human exposure to risk. Likewise, a study of the Gowanus Canal area of Brooklyn shows that, even after Sandy swamped the area with toxic flood waters, plans to convert abandoned industrial lots around the canal into high-density condominiums went on undeterred. By contrast, utilities, emergency officials, and others who routinely make long-term plans have changed operations in response to the storm, and provide examples of adaptation in the face of climate change.
Will Sandy be a tipping point in coastal policy debates—or simply dismissed as a once-in-a-century anomaly? This thought-provoking collection of essays in Taking Chances makes an important contribution to this debate.
In the last three decades of the twentieth century, the environmental movement experienced a quiet revolution. In This is Our Land, Cody Ferguson documents this little-noted change as he describes the efforts of three representative grassroots groups—in Montana, Arizona, and Tennessee—revealing how quite ordinary citizens fought to solve environmental problems.
Here are stories of common people who, confronting environmental threats to the health and safety of their families and communities, bonded together to protect their interests. These stories include successes and failures as citizens learned how to participate in their democracy and redefined what participation meant. Equally important, Ferguson describes how several laws passed in the seventies—such as the National Environmental Policy Act—gave citizens the opportunity and the tools to fight for the environment. These laws gave people a say in the decisions that affected the world around them, including the air they breathed, the water they drank, the land on which they made their living, and the communities they called home. Moreover, Ferguson shows that through their experiences over the course of the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, these citizen activists broadened their understanding of “this is our land” to mean “this is our community, this is our country, this is our democracy, and this is our planet.” As they did, they redefined political participation and expanded the ability of citizens to shape their world.
Challenging us to see activism in a new way, This is Our Land recovers the stories of often-unseen citizens who have been vitally important to the environmental movement. It will inspire readers to confront environmental threats and make our world a safer, more just, and more sustainable place to live.
Launched in 1964, the War on Poverty quickly took aim at the coalfields of southern Appalachia. There, the federal government found unexpected allies among working-class white women devoted to a local tradition of citizen caregiving and seasoned by decades of activism and community service.
Jessica Wilkerson tells their stories within the larger drama of efforts to enact change in the 1960s and 1970s. She shows white Appalachian women acting as leaders and soldiers in a grassroots war on poverty--shaping and sustaining programs, engaging in ideological debates, offering fresh visions of democratic participation, and facing personal political struggles. Their insistence that caregiving was valuable labor clashed with entrenched attitudes and rising criticisms of welfare. Their persistence, meanwhile, brought them into unlikely coalitions with black women, disabled miners, and others to fight for causes that ranged from poor people's rights to community health to unionization.
Inspiring yet sobering, To Live Here, You Have to Fight reveals Appalachian women as the indomitable caregivers of a region--and overlooked actors in the movements that defined their time.
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • Winner of The New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award
A new classic of science reporting.”—The New York Times
The true story of a small town ravaged by industrial pollution, Toms River won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and has been hailed by The New York Times as "a new classic of science reporting." Now available in paperback with a new afterword by acclaimed author Dan Fagin, the book masterfully blends hard-hitting investigative journalism, scientific discovery, and unforgettable characters.
One of New Jersey’s seemingly innumerable quiet seaside towns, Toms River became the unlikely setting for a decades-long drama that culminated in 2001 with one of the largest environmental legal settlements in history. For years, large chemical companies had been using Toms River as their private dumping ground, burying tens of thousands of leaky drums in open pits and discharging billions of gallons of acid-laced wastewater into the town’s namesake river. The result was a notorious cluster of childhood cancers scientifically linked to local air and water pollution.
Fagin recounts the sixty-year saga of rampant pollution and inadequate oversight that made Toms River a cautionary tale. He brings to life the pioneering scientists and physicians who first identified pollutants as a cause of cancer and the everyday people in Toms River who struggled for justice: a young boy whose cherubic smile belied the fast-growing tumors that had decimated his body from birth; a nurse who fought to bring the alarming incidence of childhood cancers to the attention of authorities who didn’t want to listen; and a mother whose love for her stricken child transformed her into a tenacious advocate for change.
Rooted in a centuries-old scientific quest, Toms River is an epic of dumpers at midnight and deceptions in broad daylight, of corporate avarice and government neglect, and of a few brave individuals who refused to keep silent until the truth was exposed.
When oil and gas exploration was expanding across Aotearoa New Zealand, Patricia Widener was there interviewing affected residents and environmental and climate activists, and attending community meetings and anti-drilling rallies. Exploration was occurring on an unprecedented scale when oil disasters dwelled in recent memory, socioecological worries were high, campaigns for climate action were becoming global, and transitioning toward a low carbon society seemed possible. Yet unlike other communities who have experienced either an oil spill, or hydraulic fracturing, or offshore exploration, or climate fears, or disputes over unresolved Indigenous claims, New Zealanders were facing each one almost simultaneously. Collectively, these grievances created the foundation for an organized civil society to construct and then magnify a comprehensive critical oil narrative--in dialogue, practice, and aspiration. Community advocates and socioecological activists mobilized for their health and well-being, for their neighborhoods and beaches, for Planet Earth and Planet Ocean, and for terrestrial and aquatic species and ecosystems. They rallied against toxic, climate-altering pollution; the extraction of fossil fuels; a myriad of historic and contemporary inequities; and for local, just, and sustainable communities, ecologies, economies, and/or energy sources. In this allied ethnography, quotes are used extensively to convey the tenor of some of the country’s most passionate and committed people. By analyzing the intersections of a social movement and the political economy of oil, Widener reveals a nuanced story of oil resistance and promotion at a time when many anti-drilling activists believed themselves to be on the front lines of the industry’s inevitable decline.
This book identifies a major problem facing developing nations and the countries and sources that fund them: the lack of attention and/or effective strategies available to prevent farmers in underdeveloped and poorly endowed regions from sinking still deeper into poverty while avoiding further degradation of marginal environments. The contributors propose an alliance of scientific knowledge with native skill as the best way to proceed, arguing that folk systems can often provide effective management solutions that are not only locally effective, but which may have the potential for spatial diffusion. While this has been said before, the volume makes one of the best articulated statements of how to implement such an approach.
Canada and the United States share a border that spans several of the world’s major watersheds and encompasses the largest reserves of fresh water on the planet. The border that separates these two neighbors is political, but the natural environment is a matter of common concern. In recent years, dramatic changes have taken place in the political and environmental landscapes that shape the conversations, possibilities, and processes associated with the management of this shared interest. More than ever, Indigenous populations are recognized to be a necessary part of negotiations and decision-making regarding matters ranging from pipelines to the protection of endangered species’ habitats. Globalization and, in particular, the continuing elaboration of a transnational conversation and architecture for addressing issues related to climate change have ramifications for Canada-US transboundary issues. The contributors to this volume examine the state of the existing transboundary relationship between Canada and the United States, including the governance structures and processes, the environmental impacts and adequacy of these structures and processes, and the opportunities and obstacles that exist for reform and improved outcomes.
The most acute water crises occur in everyday contexts in impoverished rural and urban areas across the Global South. While they rarely make headlines, these crises, characterized by inequitable access to sufficient and clean water, affect over one billion people globally. What is less known, though, is that millions of these same global citizens are at the forefront of responding to the challenges of water privatization, climate change, deforestation, mega-hydraulic projects, and other threats to accessing water as a critical resource.
In Transforming Rural Water Governance Sarah T. Romano explains the bottom-up development and political impact of community-based water and sanitation committees (CAPS) in Nicaragua. Romano traces the evolution of CAPS from rural resource management associations into a national political force through grassroots organizing and strategic alliances.
Resource management and service provision is inherently political: charging residents fees for service, determining rules for household water shutoffs and reconnections, and negotiating access to water sources with local property owners constitute just a few of the highly political endeavors resource management associations like CAPS undertake as part of their day-to-day work in their communities. Yet, for decades in Nicaragua, this local work did not reflect political activism. In the mid-2000s CAPS’ collective push for social change propelled them onto a national stage and into new roles as they demanded recognition from the government.
Romano argues that the transformation of Nicaragua’s CAPS into political actors is a promising example of the pursuit of sustainable and equitable water governance, particularly in Latin America. Transforming Rural Water Governance demonstrates that when activism informs public policy processes, the outcome is more inclusive governance and the potential for greater social and environmental justice.
The settlement of Indian water rights cases remains one of the thorniest legal issues in this country, particularly in the West. In a previous book, Negotiating Tribal Water Rights, Colby, Thorson, and Britton presented a general overview of the processes involved in settling such cases; this volume provides more in-depth treatment of the many complex issues that arise in negotiating and implementing Indian water rights settlements. Tribal Water Rights brings together practicing attorneys and leading scholars in the fields of law, economics, public policy, and conflict resolution to examine issues that continue to confront the settlement of tribal claims. With coverage ranging from the differences between surface water and groundwater disputes to the distinctive nature of Pueblo claims, and from allotment-related problems to the effects of the Endangered Species Act on water conflicts, the book presents the legal aspects of tribal water rights and negotiations along with historical perspectives on their evolution.
In 1800, the highlands of Sri Lanka had some of the most biologically diverse primary tropical rainforest ecosystems in the world. By 1900, only a few craggy corners and mountain caps had been spared the fire stick. Highland villagers, through the extension of slash-and-burn agriculture, and British managers, through the creation of plantations—first of coffee, then cinchona, and finally tea—had removed virtually the entire primary forest cover.
Tropical Pioneers documents the conversion of a tropical rainforest biome and the collision between what previously had been more discrete ecological zones within South Asia. The ecological impacts were transformational. Author James L. A. Webb, Jr., demonstrates that profound ecological disruption occurred in the central highlands of Sri Lanka during the nineteenth century and suggests that the theme of ecological crisis brought about by the integration of tropical ecological zones during precolonial and colonial periods alike is an important one for historians to investigate elsewhere.
Tropical Pioneers is based on extensive research in the National Archives of Sri Lanka, the National Agricultural Library at Gannaruwa, the Library of the Royal Asiatic Society-Ceylon Branch, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the Public Record Office of the United Kingdom, and the British Library.
Whereas most scholars study alternative energy policy in developed, Western nations, Oksan Bayulgen wonders why renewable energy has not advanced in countries that do not have deep fossil fuel resources. This book focuses on the political determinants of clean energy transitions, especially in developing country settings, which most of the literature has overlooked. Using an in-depth case study of energy policymaking in Turkey, Bayulgen constructs a dynamic, multidimensional theoretical model to explain the political feasibility of energy solutions to climate change in much of the world. By using Turkey as a case study, she clearly shows the role of the state and elites in energy policies that have failed to make the transition to renewables. This timely topic will be of interest to scholars, policymakers, energy investors, and anyone interested in environmental studies.