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Diagnosis: Mercury

Soundings for Island Press: Jane Hightower

July 08, 2011


Jane M. Hightower, M.D., is a board certified internal medicine physician in San Francisco, California. She published a landmark study that brought the issue of mercury in seafood to national attention.
She continues to publish scientific papers and give lectures on the subject. In Diagnosis: Mercury, now available in paperback, Hightower  tells the story of unlikely allies like the coal industry, the fishing industry, and even the Food & Drug Administration working to hide the  truth from consumers. And the truth is simple: people get sick when they eat too much fish with too much mercury.




Foundations of Restoration Ecology: The Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration

Soundings from Island Press: Don Falk

May 11, 2011


In restoration ecology, scientists work with ecosystems under great stress to return them to their natural state. Today, with the promise of altered world ecosystems due to climate change, many ask what role restoration ecologists can play. Don Falk, Associate Professor in the School of Natural Resources, University of Arizona, speaks to these concerns. As a leading researcher and educator in ecosystem restoration, Falk sees the potential of large scale system restoration to positively address climate change.




Climate Adaptation Panel

Soundings from Island Press: Anthony Barnosky, Jennifer Hoffman, and Matt Kuharic

April 22, 2011


Well before the introduction of humans into North America, climate change was affecting our surrounding environment. But since the advent of modernized culture, the rate of change in areas like the Pacific Northwest has drastically altered. In this region, factors like a declining snowpack would greatly affect the region’s hydrology which, in turn, will impact fishery habitat and energy generation in the coming years. These impending problems and many more has forced the issue to adapt and find solutions for both urban and protected areas, sooner rather than later. This panel will discuss how to plan for adaptation in various sectors through on-the-ground efforts as well as policy, and will address the issues directly facing the Pacific Northwest region.



Peter Calthorpe: Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change
Soundings from Island Press: Peter Calthorpe
February 9, 2011


There are many factors at play in the struggle to mitigate climate change including green technologies, alternative energy sources, and addressing industrial inefficiencies. But alone, these measures will not be enough. In Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change, Peter Calthorpe argues that sustainable urbanism—community design that considers the traditional tenets of urbanism, with an added emphasis on conservation and regionalism—is essential to addressing climate change.

Calthorpe, a leading architect, urban designer, and a founding member of the Congress for New Urbanism, spoke at Town Hall Seattle on February 9th about his newest book Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change.




Cascadia: A Vision for a Restorative Future
Town Hall Built Environment Series
January 17, 2010


Creating more sustainable cities is often seen as simply adopting the latest technologies to reach our desired goal. Beyond specific strategies, what ways of looking at the world will help us navigate change? The challenge of sustainability is not one of science but one of understanding. It is time to begin viewing cities as larger systems, shaped in great measure by the availability of key resources and optimized to meet the long-term needs of their citizens.


Denis Hayes, President, Bullitt Foundation
Lucia Athens, Island Press Author and Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Austin, Texas
Professor Patrick M. Condon, Island Press Author and University of British Columbia, James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments

Jason S. Twill, Senior Project Manager, Sustainability, Vulcan Inc.




Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What to Do About It
Soundings from Island Press: Robert Glennon: 'Unquenchable'
November 18, 2010


The water we depend on every day for a cold drink, to bathe, to water our lawns, to grow our food, operate our factories, and even flush our toilets is running out. In his new book, Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What to Do About It, Robert Glennon captures the irony—and tragedy—of America's water crisis that is both frightening and wickedly comical. Glennon spoke on Thursday, November 18 at Town Hall Seattle about his new book and how our water woes are going from bad to worse.

From the Vegas Strip to faux snow in Atlanta, from our supersized bathrooms to mega-farms, from billion-dollar water deals to big time politics and personalities, Glennon reveals the extravagances and everyday waste that are sucking the nation dry. The clean energy of ethanol and biofuels will soon turn to heartbreak once America realizes that thousands of gallons of water are required to produce just one gallon of fuel. Glennon tells how a celebrated, new ethanol plant in Minnesota—The Land of 10,000 Lakes!—is already sucking local wells dry. Glennon argues that we cannot engineer our way out of the problem with the usual fixes or zany ideas—but with very real, and difficult choices—and Glennon's answer is a provocative market-based system that values water as a commodity and a fundamental human right.

Interviewed on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, Robert Glennon is the Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy in the Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. He is the author of many articles and books, including the acclaimed Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America's Fresh Waters.




Smart Power: Climate Change, the Smart Grid, and the Future of Electric Utilities
Soundings from Island Press: Peter Fox-Penner: 'Smart Power'
September 21, 2010

Despite the failure of Congress to pass Senator Harry Reid's proposed energy bill, one thing remains undeniably true: the changing climate has forced us to re-examine the way we look at energy-the producers, the users, the infrastructure and more.

To address these policy and business challenges, internationally recognized energy expert and author of the new bookSmart Power: Climate Change, the Smart Grid, and the Future of Electric Utilities—Dr. Peter Fox-Penner examines the industry's technology, cost characteristics, and ability to function as a sustainable business, as well as the practical and political dimensions of making these dramatic changes. He also explains how the smart grid will enable a new generation of technology and change the fundamental relationship between utilities and their customers. Ultimately, he argues that the smart grid will prove to be a game changer for the utility industry and the key to developing these new business models.




Our Future: Walkable Urbanism
Island Press: Thought Leaders on Walkable Urbanism
July 1, 2010

This event was the first in a new series, the Thought Leaders Discussion Panel on the Built Environment, sponsored by Island Press at Town Hall Seattle.

The American Dream has long been defined by two markers: the suburb and the automobile. Though planners and environmentalists have worked to redefine that vision, the economy has recently produced a confluence of factors—the rising cost of oil and the declining value of suburban homes, among them—that have ordinary citizens rethinking this archetypical image of our prosperity. Island Press assembled a panel featuring Brookings Institution fellow Christopher B. Leinberger, developer, teacher and author of The Option of Urbanism; Bruce Agnew, Director of the Cascadia Center; Alex Steffen, Executive Editor of, and Scott Matthews, Vulcan Real Estate's Senior Director, Acquisitions along with moderator Ron Sher, owner of Third Place Books and a nationally-recognized pioneer in the realm of commerce, community and civic space.


They discussed ways to create walkable urban centers and encourage transit in the context of local and federal policy, as well as opportunities for architects, developers, and preservationists to consider current regulations and policy change. This event was the first in a new series, the Thought Leaders Discussion Panel on the Built Environment, sponsored by Island Press and Town Hall Seattle.