Aaron Wolf | An Island Press Author

Aaron T. Wolf

Aaron T. Wolf is a Professor of Geography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. His research and teaching focus is on the interaction between water science and water policy, particularly as related to conflict prevention and resolution. He has acted as a consultant to the World Bank and several international government agencies on various aspects of transboundary water resources and dispute resolution. Wolf is a trained mediator/facilitator, and directs the Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation, through which he has offered workshops, facilitations, and mediation in basins throughout the world. He coordinates the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database, and is a co-director of the Universities Partnership on Transboundary Waters. He has been an author/editor for seven books, as well as almost 50 journal articles, book chapters, and professional reports on various aspects of transboundary waters.
Island Press | Imgur

Island Press Authors Share the Love

This Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be fun for Island Press authors to share the love. We asked a few authors to choose their favorite Island Press book—other than their own, of course—and explain what makes it so special. Check out their...

This Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be fun for Island Press authors to share the love. We asked a few authors to choose their favorite Island Press book—other than their own, of course—and explain what makes it so special. Check out their responses below, and use code 4MAGICAL for 25% off and free shipping all of the books below, as well as books from participating authors.

What’s your favorite Island Press book? Share your answer in the comments.

My favorite IP book—not that I’ve read them all—is Mike Lydon’s Tactical Urbanism. This book shows how ad hoc interventions can improve the public realm, especially if they’re later made permanent. I discussed the concept on the latest Spokesmen podcast with architect Jason Fertig and illustrator Bekka “Bikeyface” Wright, both of Boston. 

Carlton Reid, Bike Boom and Roads Were Not Built for Cars

Last year I wrote a cover story for SIERRA magazine about how Donald Trump's proposed wall along the US-Mexico border would all but eliminate any chance for recovering jaguar species in the Southwest. In the course of my research I came across Alan Rabinowitz's An Indomitable BeastIt's a great read, blending Rabinowitz's own experiences as a big cat biologist with cutting-edge findings on this amazing species. As a writer, this book and its amazing details helped me bring the jaguar to life for readers. 

Jason Mark, Satellites in the High Country

This day is a time for reaching beyond data and logic to think about deeper ways of knowing. Love, specifically, but I would add to that faith, tradition and ethics. That's why I love Aaron Wolf's new book, The Spirit of Dialogue: Lessons from Faith Traditions in Transforming Conflict. Going beyond the  mechanical "rationality" of the typical public meeting is necessary if we are to address the big issues of global sustainability and the smaller issues of how we sustain our local communities. Aaron Wolf provides the experience, tools and promise of a better, deeper approach.

Larry NielsenNature's Allies

Like many others, I am indebted to to Island Press for not one but three books that profoundly influenced my thinking. Panarchy (2001, edited by Lance Gunderson and C.S. Holling) introduced me to the concept of socio-ecological systems resilience. Resilience Thinking (2006, by Brian Walker and David Salt) taught me what systems resilience really means. And the follow-up book Resilience Practice (2012) helped me start to understand how systems resilience actually works. The latter remains the most-consulted book on my shelf—by Island Press or any other publisher—and I was thrilled and frankly humbled when Brian and David agreed to write a chapter for our own contribution to the field, The Community Resilience Reader (2017).

Daniel Lerch, The Community Resilience Reader

"A large percentage of my urbanism bookshelf is comprised of Island Press books, so it's very difficult to share my love for just one! So, I won't because the books we pull of the shelf most often these days are the NACTO Design Guides. Finally, a near complete set of highly usable and mutually supportive design standards that help us advocate for and build better streets, better places." 

Mike Lydon, Tactical Urbanism

 

 

Nicols Fox's Against the Machine is a book that’s becomes more relevant each year as technology impinges ever further on our daily lives. It’s a fascinating, deeply researched look at how and why people have resisted being treated as extensions of machines.

Phil Langdon, Within Walking Distance

Lake Effect by Nancy Nichols. I read this book several years ago. It is so important to hear the voices of those whose lives are impacted by industrial age pollutants, lest we slide into complacency. In this case, the story of the chemicals of Lake Michigan. It is a short, beautifully written, disturbing read.
Emily Monosson, Natural Defense and Unnatural Selection

Peter Gleick’s series, The World’s Water, is one of the most useful surveys of the cutting edge of global waters there is. Each edition brings in-depth coverage of the issues of the day, always eminently readable and backed up by the crack research team that he puts together for each topic. I use it in my classes, always confident that students (and I) will be kept abreast of the best of The World’s Water.
Aaron Wolf, The Spirit of Dialogue

Mark Jerome Walters' important book, Seven Modern Plagues, places great emphasis on linking emerging diseases with habitat destruction and other forms of modification natural processes. This book is a call for us to recognize that each new disease reflects an environmental warning.
Andy Dyer, Chasing the Red Queen

My favorite Island Press book is The New Agrarianism: Land, Culture, and the Community of Life, edited by Eric T. Freyfogle. Perhaps it remains my favorite IP text because it is the first IP text I remember reading front to back, twice! I first encountered the book as a graduate student and was struck my its scope and tone. The book is thought provoking. But it's also a joy to read, which isn't surprising in hindsight given the award-winning contributors.   
Michael Carolan, No One Eats Alone

Don't see your Island Press fave? Share it in the comments below!

Great books to give this holiday season from Island Press

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

This holiday season, consider the Icelandic tradition of gifting books. They don't go bad, are one-size-fits-all,...

This holiday season, consider the Icelandic tradition of gifting books. They don't go bad, are one-size-fits-all, and are sure to make anyone on your shopping list smile.With a library of more than 1,000 books, make Island Press your one-stop shop for book buying, so you can get back to enjoying the holidays. To help you out, we've compiled a list of staff selections and mentions on various best-of lists. 

Get any of these books at your favorite neighborhood bookstore or online retailer!

 

For the health nut in your life – Whitewash

Let me just say I am unequivocally a health nut; I am definitely that friend who will straight up say “you so should not eat, it is so unhealthy for you.” So If you have a friend or family member that is kind of like me and cares about the kind of food and chemicals they put in their body; Carey Gillam Whitewash is the book to have!  This riveting number exposes just how far one company is willing to go to line their pockets while showing total disregard for public health and safety. You think you know what is being sprayed on your food, well this book is here to say think again!

Whitewash is aslo one of Civil Eats' Favorite Food and Farming Books of 2017

 

For the Lego lover in your life – Design for Good

What good is building something if it doesn’t help the people it’s build for? In John Cary’s Design for Good, readers are presented with colorful, character-driven stories about project around that are designed with dignity in mind. Did we mention it also contains a ton of drool-worthy photos of architecture?

Design for Good is aslo featured on the San Francisco Chronicle's 2017 holiday books gift guide. Check it out!

 

For the peacekeeper in your life – The Spirit of Dialogue

Know someone who always serves as the conflict resolver for your friends or family? Give them some new ideas of masterful mediation with The Spirit of Dialogue which draws lessons from a diversity of faith traditions to transform conflict. Whether atheist or fundamentalist, Muslim or Jewish, Quaker or Hindu, any reader involved in difficult dialogue will find concrete steps towards meeting of souls. 

 

For the history buff in your life – Toms River

Toms River recounts the sixty-year saga that plagued this small New Jersey town. Your history-loving friend will meet industrial polluters and the government regulators who enabled them, the pioneering scientists who first identified pollutants as a cause of cancer, and the brave individuals who fought for justice. Longtime journalist Dan Fagin won the Pulitzer Prize for this page-turner, and gives us all a reason to think twice about what’s lurking in the water.

 

For the person in your life who thinks the environmental movement is made up of white outdoorsmen (or for the person in your life who thinks that the environmental movements doesn’t include them) – Energy Democracy

Energy Democracy frames the international struggle of working people, low-income communities, and communities of color to take control of energy resources from the energy establishment and use those resources to empower their communities—literally providing energy, economically, and politically. The diverse voices in this book show that the global fight to save the planet—to conserve and restore our natural resources to be life-sustaining—must fully engage community residents and must change the larger economy to be sustainable, democratic, and just.

 

For the lazy environmentalist in your life – Design Professionals Guide to Zero-Net Energy Building

We all know someone who really means well and cares about the environment, but cannot be bothered to change his lifestyle. With the Design Professionals Guide to Zero-Net Energy Building, you can introduce the zero-net energy building, which offers a practical and cost-effective way to address climate change without compromising quality of life.

 

For the foodie in your life – No One Eats Alone

For your favorite gourmand, give the gift of No One Eats Alone, an exploration of how to deepen connections to our food sources and to our own communities. Through over 250 interviews, Michael Carolan shows concerned food citizens opportunities for creating a more equitable and sustainable foodscape

 

For the conservation warrior in your life – Nature’s Allies

Worried about the state of nature in our divided world? Or know someone who is? Nature’s Allies is a refreshing antidote to helplessness and inertia. Within its pages Larry Nielsen brings alive stories of brave men and women around the world who have responded to the conservation crises of their time by risking their reputations, well-being, and even lives to stand up for nature when no one else would do so. These stories provide inspiration for a new generation of conservationists to step up in the face of adversity and challenge social and environmental injustice occurring today—and to assure them that they can make a difference by speaking out. This year, give a holiday gift of courage and inspiration: Nature’s Allies.

 

 

For the traveler in your life – Let Them Eat Shrimp

This book brings to life the importance of mangroves. Mangroves have many jobs: protecting coastlines, acting as nurseries for all kinds of fish, provide livlihoods and food for people. Kennedy Warne dives into the muddy waters of the mangrove world and shares the stories of the people who depend on them. The book is both a well-written travelogue and exploration of the science of the mangroves ecological service they provide.

Don't just take our word for it, check out these best-of lists:

 

For the nature-in-cities lover in your life – Handbook of Biophilic City Planning & Design

Featured on the ASLA's The Dirt Best Books of 2017

 

For the bike lover in your life – Bike Boom

One of Planetizen's Best Books of 2017 and one of the four books in Bicycle Times' Gift Guide Cycling Enthusiast

 

Busting the "Water Wars" Myth

Oregon State University’s Aaron Wolf, in his studies of conflict and cooperation around international waterways, has found something both counter-intuitive and remarkable. Despite myths of “water...

Oregon State University’s Aaron Wolf, in his studies of conflict and cooperation around international waterways, has found something both counter-intuitive and remarkable. Despite myths of “water wars,” cooperation is far more common than conflict when neighbors share a river and an aquifer, according to Wolf, author of the new Island Press book The Spirit of Dialogue.

This goes beyond simply cooperating over water. “Once cooperative water regimes are established…,” Wolf wrote in a 1999 essay, “they turn out to be tremendously resilient over time, even between otherwise hostile … states, and even as conflict is waged over other issues.”

Lake Mead Panorama 2
Lake Mead as seen from the Hoover Dam with the white band clearly showing the high water level, via Wikimedia Commons

Wolf’s point was put strikingly on display last month at a meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as representatives of the Unites States and Mexico gathered for a formal signing ceremony of an agreement over sharing the waters of the Colorado River.

The Colorado River is often described as being shared among seven states, but the number is really nine—seven in the United States and two in Mexico. U.S. farms and cities use most of the river’s water, and what little is left when it arrives at the U.S.-Mexico border near the towns of Algodones and San Luis is diverted for use by Mexican farms and cities. The last hundred miles of river channel between the border and the Sea of Cortez is usually dry.

The agreement includes provisions for the two nations to share shortages if (when?) drought and climate change shrink the river. The deal gives Mexican water users the ability to store their water in Lake Mead, the massive storage reservoir behind Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border, near the city of Las Vegas. Storage is critical to give Mexico flexibility in managing its water. U.S. water agencies will contribute under the deal to water efficiency improvements to Mexican infrastructure, with some of the saved water available for use in the United States.

Yuma arizona map

Satellite view of the Colorado River valley near Yuma, Arizona; the Mexico–United States border runs from left to right just below center, via Wikimedia Commons

Crucially, the agreement also sets aside water for habitat restoration in the dry river channel of Mexico.

The agreement was negotiated over a more than two-year period, but it is really rooted in more than a decade of increasingly deep collaboration between a community of water managers on both sides of the border. When the Trump administration took over in January, there was fear that the carefully crafted deal, so beneficial and important to communities on both sides of the border, would be sidelined by the heated rhetoric over free trade and immigration, over NAFTA and walls. But Wolf was right. Even as conflict raged over other issues, the trust and reciprocity built around the Colorado River proved remarkably resilient. The old saw that “water is for fighting over” was proven wrong again.