Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Giving Tree

I'm thankful for Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree as both a beautiful story for children, but one that can prompt a variety of discussions between parent and child. Silverstein created a work that is fluid and precise with illustrations that are unforgettable in their charming simplicity.

Most readers are probably already familiar with this book as it is perhaps one of the best known works of children's literature. But change the lens on how you may have interpreted it upon a first reading. It can prompts a few deep and philosophical discussions as there are a variety of interpretations of the work.

Is this simply a story on giving, or unconditional love? Is it a story of how we use our resources with only our own intentions in mind? Is it a story that parallels parental love? Is it a story of selfishness, of complete unselfishness? I can't tell you a final interpretations because that is left entirely up to the reader. I've talked to a few that feel that it is a powerful story of love, and some that are almost angry at the boy in the book as he took from the tree bit by bit until there was nothing left.

I think also sometimes that a final interpretations of this work can depend on where you are at any given moment, how you see the world and what assumptions we bring into the reading.
And yes, this is a book meant for kids. Or is it? All in all I'm thankful for this book that I revisit year after year with a fresh perspective each time. What is your interpretation?

Green readers can enjoy this book individually, or shared with their children. Warning, guaranteed sniffles at the end.

Gratitude Giveaway: Two-Fer

From Simple Prosperity's Dave Wann along with Dan Chiras, Superbia: 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods is exactly what it advertises itself to do. If you are looking for ways to create community and make a local eco-difference, this is a great and easy resource for you.

Blue Frontier: Dispatches from America's Ocean Wilderness, by David Helvarg, details the true conditions of our ocean, how they got that way and what we can do about them.

Enter to win these two books by leaving a comment. If you only want a particular book, please simply note that in the comments.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

And The Winner Is . . .

Electronic Goose, you are the winner of Depletion and Abundance! Please email me at with your shipping information so that I can mail you your book.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Fans of enviro themed fiction will enjoy Carl Hiaasen's Hoot, a chapter book styled for your juvenile reader. Roy is a middle schooler that recently relocated to Florida from Montana, a move that left him missing mountains and woods. He develops a new circle of friends including one tough chick named Beatrice and a mysterious running boy.

Roy discovers tiny land burrowing owls will soon have their habitat threatened by a stack of flapjacks, AKA Mother Paula's Pancake House. We follow Roy through an ecological mystery as he works to save the tiny homes of the owls and convinces us to give a hoot. It is a rough go as he works against adult conspiracy, apathy and a twist of legalistics that could drive most growns ups nuts.

I'm thankful for writers that are exploring contemporary themes of conservation, justice and sustainability as they mesh real world plots and characters for a read that grips us. This is a book that I've often recommended to parent and child to read together, and even more exciting if you piggyback other non-fiction materials to study upon while you progress through the novel.

If you like Hoot, try Flush, another ecological mystery book Hiaasen writes with the same sense of style and humor for kids. Hoot has indeed been made into a film version, a fun followup you may enjoy after working through the book.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

"All the people you meet here have one thing to teach you." Eddie was skeptical. His fists stayed clenched. "What?" he said. "That there are no random acts. That we are all connected. That you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind."

I read Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven right at a pivotal point in my life, and can't imagine that a better book could have landed in my hands right when I needed it. Wiki actually has a content rich summary and analysis of the book, and I really don't think I could produce anything better then what is produced HERE. Browse the site for more details on themes, characters and interpretations.

I am thankful that I read this book as explores how our stories and lives are interwoven, and each of us imperfect beings may experience and give a legacy of forgiveness to each other. I read this book shortly after my father died, and though I loved him dearly and deeply I had a few unresolved feelings to work through. Well, mainly being the out-there daughter of a very religious, quiet and reserved person can lend itself to a few communication issues. Albom's book landed in my hands and it really and truly was a book that enabled me to become a "better" person if you want to call it that. One that could look at issues at a deeper level and look at the human heart in all of its glory and weaknesses. Ah, oh so thankful.

This book isn't really about dying, but more about the living and what we give each other. A Six Degrees in a way, showing both the good and bad of our human experience, and the ability to reconcile with each other and with our emotions.

I finished this book curled up in a ball and crying my eyes out, and I'd firmly rate it as a five-tissue read out of five. But it is one of those books that you read and walk around absorbing for days, the thoughts and characters now entrenched in your own mind. I'm happy to say I feel I was all the better for it. I don't know if books can make us "badder" or "gooder" people, but I found that I was deeply moved by the content in this book in my own life.

So I'm thankful for Five People, and thankful that I read it. I find that though it isn't a "Green" read, it is one that Greener readers may surely enjoy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Roundup: Thankful for Books

Hello Wormers! I'm happy to have my week at the Bookworm land on Thanksgiving week. I'm very thankful for books, and for the joy and intellectual illumination that they give my spirit and soul.

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.~ Gilbert Highet

My selections this week may have elements of Green to them, and just a few that I'm just plain thankful to have read. Pictured above is Beatrice's Goat, a book that I used this year at a guest storytelling gig for a Heifer benefit. I'm thankful for this book as it illustrates how the power of a simple gift changes lives for the better.

What books are you thankful for this week? They don't have to be only Green, but could be books that move you, help you, or just make your life better. Let us know in the comments, and we will be mighty thankful.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gratitude Giveaway: Depletion and Abundance

This week, we are giving away a copy of Depletion and Abundance by Peak Oil blogger Sharon Astyk. The book has been reviewed here and here at The Blogging Bookworm and is a quick and illuminating read.

Please leave a comment to be entered to win this book. The random drawing closes on Saturday, November 29. I'll announce the winner next Sunday (November 30) and, at the same time, announce the last book to be given away in our month-long Gratitude Giveaway.

And The Winner Is . . .

Joyce from tallgrassworship.

Joyce, give me a shout at greenbeandreams(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing info so that I can shop Green Christmas out to you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Book Review: How to Grow Fresh Air

I didn't really intend this to be "how to avoid toxins week," that's just what seems to be on everybody's mind! Anyway, this review comes to us from Joyce from tallgrassworship and I think it follows nicely after Joce's review of "The Body Toxic." Thanks for showing us a pleasant way to help solve a problem, Joyce. I might just have to get over my habit of murdering every house plant I grow!

As much as I love houseplants for their beauty, and the homeyness I think they lend to any room, there is another good reason to have them. In his book "How To Grow Fresh Air", Dr. B. C. Wolverton synthesizes 25 years of research on indoor air quality, and explains how we can prevent Sick Building Syndrome, which can cause allergic and respiratory problems. Since most Americans spend about 95% of their time indoors, this is very important information.

Wolverton worked for NASA, teaming with others to find ways to keep air breathable in space stations, and potentially in sealed modular housing that could be used to inhabit other planets. They studied what chemicals building materials, furniture, and appliances and electronics off-gas into the indoor atmosphere, and which plants most effectively remove certain gasses and toxins.

I appreciated the careful explanation of what chemicals are present in our buildings, and what effect they have on our health. Wolverton is able to make this information accessible to some one like me, who does not have a strong background in chemistry. He gives a clear review of the process of plant respiration.

After you learn all this information, there is a good chapter on caring for the plants. Then, most helpful of all, is an extensive list of plants to choose from, with photos, care information, and an explanation of which chemicals that particular plant is good at removing from the environment. For instance, some plants are very useful used in close proximity to computer equipment, some are especially good in bedrooms, since they do more of their breathing at night, when you are sleeping there, and so on.

I loved this book for it's readability, accessible research, and the way it broadened my understanding of the symbiotic relationship we have with the plant kingdom. If you are new to the houseplant world, you should be able to get off to a good start with the growing information. If you are an old hand at it, you will still learn plenty of interest to you. If you are interested in environmental issues, and how to live in a less toxic space, this book would definitely be of use to you, as well.

I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book Review: The Body Toxic

Our guest review today comes curtesy of Joce (aka JAM), who was kind enough to wade through this book and summarize it! Thanks, so much, Joce. I especially appreciate the list of suggestions on how to avoid introducing even more chemicals into our bodies!

The Body Toxic: How the Hazardous Chemistry of Everyday Things Threatens Our Health and Well-being by Nena Baker is a book that talks about the many chemicals that are present in the products we use every day, how they create a body burden within us, and what we can do to limit or remove them. The book is written by an investigative journalist who previously wrote about Nike’s Indonesian factories. Her works on that led to many improvements for workers, so let’s hope that her writing about chemicals in everyday products brings about positive change there as well.

The book begins by talking about the chemical burden that we all have within our bodies. People that have been tested show significant levels of many different chemicals, many of which are stored in fat cells, which means that even if you limit exposure from now on to those chemicals, they will be with you for a very long time. People who have lived very healthy lives are not free from this body burden, while it might be lower than some others, even “clean living” nets you lots of chemicals in your body.

There are then five chapters, each devoted to a different chemical (atrazine, phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, bisphenol A, and perfluorinated chemicals). Research is discussed which shows the effects of these chemicals on wildlife and how we are stewing in these chemicals at a level higher than what damages wildlife. There is a lot of explanation of how difficult it is to avoid these chemicals. For example, polybrominated diphenyl ethers are used in flame retardation, so not only are they in obvious places like mattresses, they are a significant part of every day items like TVs, microwaves, and dishwashers. Also, any item with a stain or wrinkle resistant treatment gets that way due to added chemicals.

The book then talks about new policies that are in effect, or will hopefully soon be in effect, to find safer alternatives to these chemicals. One of the most difficult things is that these are not labeled – for instance a consumer would not know whether a TV has an older, dangerous chemical in it or whether it has been reformulated. A lot of cosmetic companies are starting to reformulate and use that as a selling point, but in more traditional every day items it will be very difficult to know what the hazards are. The book ends with a list of what the author herself does personally to avoid excess chemicals, and then has some resources on environmental and public health groups where you can find out more information.

Overall, the book was very interesting, and pretty scary, but worth a read, even if some of the technical stuff can be skimmed over. I tend to go in spurts as to how worried I am about things – for a while I clean out my house and vow to use only safe things, but then convenience and laziness come into play and I go back to my old ways. This book is a good reminder to stick with things for the long haul. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars, for medium to dark green readers.

I’m going to summarize what the author does to avoid chemicals, since I thought it was a great list and while I think the book is worth reading, if you don’t have it in your library system or if reading about chemicals is not something you can concentrate on right now, I suspect we could all move towards adapting some of her guidelines without reading the book. I think most of us know these already (or most of them) but reading that they were the things that the author does in her own life, after her very extensive research on the subject makes me feel like they are definitely worth doing and being reminded about.

Buy and eat organic foods whenever possible.
Don’t eat microwave popcorn (lots of chemicals in the paper packaging).
Ditch all plastic food containers, use glass or ceramic instead.
Cancel contract for monthly bug control inside and outside your home.
Decline all optional stain protection treatments for furniture and rugs.
Use low VOC paint for home improvement projects.
Replace BPA plastic bottle with aluminum bottle.
Vacuum and dust at least once per week (because dust is loaded with chemical pollutants).
Buy hard-anodized aluminum pots and pans when Teflon cookware wears out.
Ask retailers about things you buy. If they don’t know, contact manufacturers.
Read labels. Even if they don’t tell the whole story, they can give you clues.
Talk to family and friends about the changes you’ve made and why you make them.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Roundup

(Photo by Donna's dad, taken at the Monarch Butterfly reserve near Santa Cruz, CA)

Well, happy Monday, everybody! As we near Thanksgiving, it's good to remember all the things we're thankful for and this week I am especially thankful for two blogging friends who have offered to contribute guest book reviews which I'll post later this week! Also I plan to write a post on a book or two for which I am thankful. Stay tuned!

After winning kale for sale's book giveaway last month, I've been busy reading "The Green Collar Economy." It's very good so far, but the review is going to have to wait until I finish the book -- I keep getting sidetracked reading books like "A Wrinkle in Time" and "Ozma of Oz." (I'm working on a children's chapter book that I'm getting ready to self-publish and I needed some inspiration!)

So what are you reading? Any new bookworms out there in blogland? Drop us a comment!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Book Review & Gratitude Giveaway: Green Christmas

About a month ago, I was contacted by a PR firm regarding the book Green Christmas. I occasionally get offers for free items or books and, for the most part, pass. With the holiday season barreling down on us and all my green mom friends scratching their heads as to how to survive the holidays with their values intact, I accepted.

Boy, am I glad I did!

I expected Green Christmas: How to Have a Joyous, Eco-Holiday Season by Jennifer Basye Sander, Peter Sander and Anne Basye to extol the virtues of LED Christmas lights and canvas bags and let folks go on their merry way. It does that, true, but the book goes much much further.

Green Christmas provides ideas by the oodles for a less wasteful and more environmentally meaningful holiday. The tips on reducing consumption, giving meaningful gifts (e.g., experiential, used or "vintage", handmade, charitable), spreading the word through fun and festive parties, and decorating with what you have, what you make and what you grow are insightful and creative. The section on buying local, alone, made my heart sing! It's rare to encounter such a clean and concise argument on why supporting your local merchants is green. Green Christmas doesn't stop at Christmas though. It guides the way to a more eco-friendly life once the holidays are just a slim-carbon footprint memory.

This is the type of book that those who are newly green will embrace. It compiles virtually every eco-holiday idea I've encountered on the web, in magazines and stole from green friends in less than 200 pages. Those further down the eco-path will enjoy the book just as much. It is helpful, meaningful and real. I bet even the deep green can find a nugget or two in the pages of this little book.

Indeed, I liked this book so much, I don't want to give it away! Alas, I promised to so here goes. If you are interested in winning this book, please leave your name in the comments to be entered to win. Check back next Sunday to find out who the winner is and what book is up next in our month-long Gratitude Giveaway.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Recommended: Light to medium green readers.

And the Winner Is . . .

Diane, under anonymous, is the winner of the book Fast Food Nation. Diane, please email me at greenbeandreams(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address so I can send your book out to you.

Thanks to those who put their names in the proverbial hat. Next Gratitude Giveaway coming later today.

Friday, November 14, 2008

November Gratitude #2

When I saw the wormers were posting books we are grateful for this month I grimaced. Not at the concept but at the challenge of separating my favorite books from books I'm grateful for. But I did it.

The two authors I'm grateful for over the long run are Anne Lamott and Natalie Goldberg. I love them both.

Anne Lamott for her honesty, her humor. For her encouragement to be part of the solution. For her struggle and subsequent ability to include everyone. For her endearing and enduring humanness. I love her because she's crazy. But a really nice crazy.

And I'm grateful for Natalie Goldberg's books, Writing Down The Bones and Wild Mind because it was in those pages, in Natalie's wild mind committed to the page, that I found my way to pen and paper. Make positive effort for the good, Natalie instructs with her toothy grin and Zen minimalism. And keep your pen moving. Not always easy, but generally always a surprise.

What books are you grateful for in the long run? Or even in the short run? Let us know.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Uber Amazing Blog

We've won an award. Our first.

Melinda at One Green Generation has tagged us for an Uber Amazing Blog award! And she said nice things about us too.

That us however is You. This blog is nothing without your comments, thoughts and reviews. All of which makes what we have such a great resource for anyone looking for a green read on any number of avenues that road leads.

Thanks everybody for your reading and your participation. It all matters.

And thank you Melinda!

(If you haven't signed up for this week's book giveaway of Fast Food Nation there's still time. Do it here.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Platter of Figs

I rarely use cookbooks for a recipe, I only wish I were that kind of a cook, but they do feed me in a different way. I take note of spices, of combinations, of what ingredients are first toasted, mixed, set aside. I read through lists of ingredients, smelling or imagining the texture of each one. I put an apron in my mind and store the knowledge somewhere between my taste buds and pantry shelves. And then I look at the pictures. It's frivolous but it makes me happy. A Platter of Figs makes me happy.

The photography is delicious. I want to eat the light and the raw beauty of the food primarily unadorned is stunning. The menus are arranged by season which is another of my favorite parts of this book as that's the way we eat. When it's winter, our meals reflect it and I want to cultivate my instinct to make the best of that time. The author, a chef at Chez Panisse six months out of the year, encourages improvising and making the best out of what's available. He knows seasonal cooking.

My last favorite part of the book is that each menu begins with a vignette that provides a back drop to the recipes. The stories make the recipes personal, they prop the kitchen door open and invite the reader in. They're an invitation to notice the stories around the food in our own kitchens, where it came from, how it got there and to think about the people along the way.

And that's a good invitation to accept.

Do you have a favorite cookbook that inspires and makes you happy?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Round Up

Are you finding time to read? I finally finished Three Cups of Tea and needed a week off work to do it. Like all the reviews that inspired me, the book is a good one and timely given all the activity on the Pakistan and Afghanistan border where this book primarily takes place. If one person can embody the slogan of our President Elect, yes we can, the hero of this true story can. We need as many of these narratives in our collective consciousness as we can get. At least I do.

What are you reading or reviewing? Let's us know. I'm optimistic with the rainy days ahead there will be more time for reading.

And don't forget to sign up for the book giveaway of Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser. He's a personal hero of mine and if you'd like to see him in action watch this clip. The guy is hot.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gratitude Giveaway: Fast Food Nation

To show how thankful we are to all you bookworms out there, The Blogging Bookworm will give away a green book every Sunday this month.

This week, we are giving away the classic Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. Please leave a comment to be entered to win this book. The random drawing closes on Saturday, November 15. I'll announce the winner next Sunday (November 16) and, at the same time, announce the next book to be given away.

Leave your name so you too can be grateful for the insight this book gives into our industrial food system.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I Am Grateful For . . .

November is the month of Thanksgiving. A month when we look around us and feel grateful for all that we have. In keeping with that sentiment and in participating in tallgrassworship's November challenge, we Wormers thought we would share our gratitude with fellow bookworms both in word (each of us will write a post on books for which we are grateful) and in deed (look out for several book giveaways every remaining Sunday this month).

Here's mine:

I am grateful for books.

All books. I've devoured more than my share since I was a fourth grader busted for staying up all night reading Little Women. I've since moved on to other categories of books, including the ecologically relevant ones littering our side bar, but I find myself particularly grateful these days to a different sort of book. Ones that help teach my children a new, better way of life. That demonstrate clearly the path. And that reconnect them with the cycle of life.

Here are a couple of my favorites for the fall:

Red Are the Apples by Marc Harshman is a beautifully illustrated book that explores the seasonal harvest on a farm, complete with free ranging chickens and a frisky cat. The book takes the fruits and vegetables from plant to bottle (cider) and even has a page about canning. What's not to love?

Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell cleverly illustrates the life cycle of a pumpkin - from Jack O Lantern, to a composted pumpkin with a few extra seeds, to plant, to pumpkin, to, well, Jack again. This is a favorite of my boys took a page from the book and, this year, put their Jack O Lanterns under the orange tree and check on them daily for signs of change.

'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey is a fun book about children who visit turkeys at the farm and then spirit them away for a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone is thankful - "the turkeys the most." Recommended for vegetarians as this one drives my carnivorous husband nuts. ;-)

That's my list. What are you grateful for? Check back each week to see what books other Wormers hold near and dear to their hearts.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Educate Our Next Leaders

Not the ones elected yesterday. The ones who will run tomorrow.

The ones whom Abbie, at Farmers' Daughter, is teaching as I write this.

If you are not familiar with Abbie, she is a real life super hero. One who teaches AP Environmental Science to high schoolers. She has assigned her students a book review project (due in December) in which they are to read a book on an environmental topic and give a class presentation. Click here for a look at what her students read last year.

Can you make an impact on the leaders of tomorrow? Can you recommend any environmentally relevant books that would be appropriate for very bright and interested high schoolers to read?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Book Review: Depletion and Abundance

I share a phone booth with this week's guest blogger, the Green Phone Booth that is. Hannah, aka The Purloined Letter, aka The Green Raven, has offered to share her abundant thoughts on Sharon Astyk's Depletion and Abundance.

Leading the Way

"If we can take one message from Hurricane Katrina, it is that our government is probably not going to lead," writes Sharon Astyk in her new book Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front. "It wasn't the federal government that was first on the scene in Hurricane Katrina. It was regular people with boats, or at least courage, who got out there and rescued their neighbors and people they'd never seen and would never seen again. It was ordinary people who tended one another's hurts. It was ordinary people who sought solutions. It was ordinary people who led the way, and the government eventually followed."

Astyk's book is a reminder of the power of individuals to make a difference in the world during times of crisis. In New Orleans in 2005, it was Hurricane Katrina. Now we face a global financial crisis, climate chaos, war, and energy depletion (peak oil). People are struggling to hold on to their homes, to pay for their groceries, to know what to do next. As Astyk writes, "Now it is the time for ordinary people like us to get out our boats again and lead the way."

If you are like me, this book will make you rethink your assumptions about population, about the separation of public and private, about the global impact of creating local economies. As Green Bean said in her recent review, Depletion and Abundance is both troubling and reassuring. It will make you have moments of panic and it will also make you commit to creating a just and meaningful life.

I finished the book with a feeling not only of hope, but also with a feeling of radical responsibility. What I love best about Astyk's book is her unshakable commitment to her inner ethical compass. Usually, I am very resistant to authors telling me to do what they think is right for the world. But Astyk combines belief in universal morals (like truly committing our lives to taking care of elderly parents and children, connecting with our communities, and helping strangers in need) with acceptance and respect for diversity. Instead of feeling like she is preaching at me, I feel like she is inspiring me to try to live up to my ideals and attempt to be my highest self.

I highly recommend this book. I'm thinking about buying a second copy just so I can make all my friends read it and yet keep a copy on my shelf, too, for any moment when I need to be reminded what power we have and how we must use it.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Recommended: For medium and dark green readers.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday Roundup

Another Monday, another round up. This one to kick off the month of gratitude - of Thanksgiving. With that in mind, you'll encounter posts from each of us wormers regarding the book or books for which we are grateful. Check in weekly for those.

On to the round up.

I am reading Van Jones' Green Collar Economy. I'm only a couple of chapters in but so far I feel pretty strongly that the next President should read this book. If we could work toward a greener lifestyle, create new meaningful jobs, get the economy going again and alleviate poverty, well, Van Jones seems capable of pointing the way.

How about you? What are you reading this month? Have you written any reviews that we can share?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vital Signs 2007-2008

I found a fantastic little handbook that takes the pulse of our globe in only 166 pages if you read the notes and bibliography. Vital Signs 2007-2008 from the WorldWatch Institute provides a clear overview of an extensive range of scientific data on key indicators across our planet. The bibliography of scientific studies stretches for 35 pages with every indicator studies backed up by cold, hard facts.

The introduction provides a profound quote from Utah Phillips, an American Labor organizer and folk singer. He said: "The earth is not dying. It is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses." Vital signs goes on to say, and to prove that the planet is not dying, but "ecological systems are. And the names of people killing them include political leaders, corporate executives, and millions of ordinary people who are part of an unsustainable consumer economy." (p. 9)

Vital Signs tracks a variety of key indicators for global health. I"m shamelessly pulled this from their web site as they document it nicely:

Food and Agriculture Trends
Grain Production Falls and Prices Surge
Soybean Demand Continues to Drive Production
Meat Output and Consumption Grow
Seafood Increasingly Popular and Scarce
Irrigated Area Stays Stable

Energy and Climate Trends
Fossil Fuel Use Up Again
Nuclear Power Virtually Unchanged
Wind Power Still Soaring
Solar Power Shining Bright
Biofuel Flows Surge
Carbon Emissions Continue Unrelenting Rise
Weather-related Disasters Climb
Ozone Layer Stabilizing But Not Recovered

Social and Economic Trends
Population Rise Slows But Continues
World is Soon Half Urban
Economy and Strain on Environment Both Grow
Steel Production Soars
Aluminum Production Continues Upward
Gold Mining Output Drops Slightly
Roundwood Production Up

Transportation and Communications Trends
Vehicle Production Rises Sharply
Bicycle Production Up Slightly
Air Travel Reaches New Heights
Cell Phones Widely Used, Internet Growth Slows

Conflict and Peace Trends
Number of Violent Conflicts Steady
Peacekeeping Expenditures Hit New Record
Nuclear Weapons Treaty Eroding

Food and Agriculture Features
Agribusinesses Consolidate Power
Egg Production Doubles Since 1990
Avian Flu Spreads

Environment Features
Climate Change Affects Terrestrial Biodiversity
Threats to Species Accelerate
Invasive Species Drive Biodiversity Loss
Ocean Pollution Worsens and Spreads
Bottled Water Consumption Jumps
Sustainable Communities Become More Popular

Social and Economic Features
Progress Toward the MDGs Is Mixed
Literacy Improves Worldwide
Child Labor Harms Many Young Lives
Informal Economy Thrives in Cities
Socially Responsible Investment Grows Rapidly

Health Features
HIV/AIDS Continues Worldwide Climb
Malaria Remains a Threat
Male Reproductive Health Declines

This little handbook isn't necessarily uplifting, but it provides me with clear data to incorporate in my own research and writing. It also dispels many of the willy-nilly statements I hear about skewed data and/or cyclical cycles. (And there are some, but it doesn't account for everything that we see in our systems). I also loved the charts, graphs and photographs that capture the data in a very usable manner.

Signs also provides for narrative facts that are useful and intriguing. For example, the Inuits in the Arctic are now using air conditioners for the very first time. (p. 42) Fishing employs 38 million people worldwide, and as many species are farmed out and our oceans are polluted we have vast economic and job related issues to consider as well as a concern about food source. (p. 26) The portion of adults in the world that have basic reading and writing skills is now up to 82% (p. 110) and I say hooray to that.

I know it isn't a book of joy for the most part, but it is a book of clarity in data and issues. As a lover of facts and figures from time to time I found it an interesting though eye opening read. If you are a lover of data and part of a Green-centric movement, then this may be a valuable resource for you.