The Carnivore Way
6 x 9
15 photos, 28 illustrations
6 x 9
15 photos, 28 illustrations
What would it be like to live in a world with no predators roaming our landscapes? Would their elimination, which humans have sought with ever greater urgency in recent times, bring about a pastoral, peaceful human civilization? Or in fact is their existence critical to our own, and do we need to be doing more to assure their health and the health of the landscapes they need to thrive?
In The Carnivore Way, Cristina Eisenberg argues compellingly for the necessity of top predators in large, undisturbed landscapes, and how a continental-long corridor—a “carnivore way”—provides the room they need to roam and connected landscapes that allow them to disperse. Eisenberg follows the footsteps of six large carnivores—wolves, grizzly bears, lynx, jaguars, wolverines, and cougars—on a 7,500-mile wildlife corridor from Alaska to Mexico along the Rocky Mountains. Backed by robust science, she shows how their well-being is a critical factor in sustaining healthy landscapes and how it is possible for humans and large carnivores to coexist peacefully and even to thrive.
University students in natural resource science programs, resource managers, conservation organizations, and anyone curious about carnivore ecology and management in a changing world will find a thoughtful guide to large carnivore conservation that dispels long-held myths about their ecology and contributions to healthy, resilient landscapes.
"Using personal anecdotes of encounters with North America predators, supplemented by the results of a number of studies, Eisenberg makes a case for the place of carnivores in the wild."
"Ecologist Cristina Eisenberg travels wildlife corridors between Alaska and northern Mexico, focusing on six species: the grizzly bear, wolf, wolverine, lynx, cougar and jaguar. Examining the science and public policy surrounding these majestic creatures, she argues that we need to give them room to roam—and we can do it in a way that allows us to peacefully coexist."
"[T]his fascinating book...offers a blend of research and narrative that will appeal to lay readers..."
"Unfortunately, the topic of large predators can draw plenty of passion and emotion, but that often leaves little room for clear thinking. That's why Cristina Eisenberg's The Carnivore Way is so refreshing. It brings science and rational thought to the issue and shows that we can indeed coexist with large, carnivorous animals—and that most of the issue is with us, not them."
The Nature Conservancy's Cool Green Science Blog
"In The Carnivore Way, ecologist Cristina Eisenberg argues for the protection of North America's big predators and their expansive habitats. As a researcher, she illustrates the creatures' ecological importance as linchpins of their ecosystems, affecting the populations and dynamics not only of their prey, but of trophic levels throughout the system. She also urges cooperation among the various stakeholders whose livelihoods are impacted by the presence of large carnivores. Coexistence with carnivores is her steady mantra."
"Eisenberg is showing us the greatest hope that may exist for a "carnivore way"--the people among us who care enough about the wildlife in their backyards to become engaged in a large carnivore conservation on their own terms."
"It is both informative and thoroughly enjoyable to read, with its combination of personal narrative and well-explained science."
"The Carnivore Way is an accessible, engaging expert’s view of the complex biological, social, and political situation of North American carnivore conservation."
"In today’s political hysteria, I found this profoundly refreshing. Fluidly written, engaging, and informative."
San Francisco Book Review
"...[Eisenberg] is skilled at translating complex ecological ideas into prose."
"An impressive synthesis of conservation and science, The Carnivore Way is the road map for carnivore conservation and connected landscapes in North America's Rocky Mountains. With keen insights into carnivores' roles in ecosystems, their behaviors, and their complex relationships with humans, Cristina Eisenberg compels us to understand why carnivores are essential to the health of ecosystems and our need to coexist with them."
Jodi A. Hilty, North American Program Executive Director, Wildlife Conservation Society
"Eisenberg investigates the extensive cascading biological medicine wheel we know as the natural world, continuing to prove carnivore coexistence is fundamental to our own survival—inextricable. The Carnivore Way makes a remarkable case for immediate overhaul of human intrusion. Our brothers and sisters in other forms depend on us to get this right and their wellbeing distinguishes our own sustained presence. Genius narrative, essential knowledge, this book is beautiful lifeblood."
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, Author of "Blood Run & Streaming" and editor of "Sing: Poetry of the Indigenous Americas"
"With characteristic insight and clarity, Cristina Eisenberg paints the large-carnivore story across a vast canvas. Few can boil down the essentials like Eisenberg in prose that both informs and inspires. She has come through again with an engaging read about iconic species that put to the test our willingness to coexist with other life forms."
Douglas W. Smith, Senior Wildlife Biologist, Yellowstone National Park
"...Eisenberg is always worthwhile reading..."
"[Eisenberg] write[s] inspiringly about research on large carnivores and convincingly argue[s] for the need to deeply understand large carnivore behavior and ecology in order to better manage and conserve them."
"an exceptionally well-written book"
Natural Areas Journal
Introduction: Journey into Wildness
PART I. Wildways
Chapter 1. Corridor Ecology and Large Carnivores
Chapter 2. The Ecological Role of Large Carnivores
Chapter 3. Crossings
PART II. Where the Carnivores Roam
Chapter 4. Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos)
Chapter 5. Wolf (Canis lupus)
Chapter 6. Wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus)
Chapter 7. Lynx (Lynx canadensis)
Chapter 8. Cougar (Puma concolor)
Chapter 9. Jaguar (Panthera onca)
Conclusion: Earth Household Notes
About the Author
Join Cristina Eisenberg at the High Desert Museum on Tuesday, April 12 at 7:00 pm.
Join predator ecologist Cristina Eisenberg as she explores the return of large carnivores such as wolves, wolverines, lynx and grizzly bears to the Northwest. She will discuss the relationships between humans and carnivores in the West, the ecological benefits of large carnivores on whole ecosystems, and the social challenges that come with coexisting with them in a mixed-use landscape. She will share stories from years spent afield worldwide studying these relationships as a scientist and will read from her book, The Carnivore Way: Coexisting with and Conserving America's Predators.
Free, but seating is limited and RSVP is required. More details here.
The most powerful environmental law on Earth, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), is under the gravest assault it has ever faced. Last week I spent time in Washington, DC briefing US congressional leaders on ESA threats and brainstorming about how to safeguard this venerable law.
The ESA has faced previous formidable challenges. While it has withstood some, it has succumbed to others. One of the most strident attacks occurred when Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) introduced the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005. While his fulminations against the ESA failed, the 2011 gray wolf delisting quietly proposed by Montana Senator John Tester (D-Mont.) as a federal budget rider succeeded. This unorthodox pathway to delisting opened a Pandora's box of species attacks.
Flash forward to 2015, when seven bills aimed at "reforming" the ESA (S 112, S 292, S 293, S 655, S 736, S 855, S 1036) are rapidly advancing through the 114th Congress. These bills, discussed on May 6, 2015 by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, work in concert with three bills (HR 843, HR 884, HR 1985) that would remove protection from gray wolves in the Upper Midwest (Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) and the West (Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming). Ominous as all that may seem, it's just the tip of the iceberg.
Our legislators have attached myriad insidious riders to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 (HR 1735), which passed in the House of Representatives on May 15, 2015. Many congressional offices I visited were unaware of some of these riders, which are literally buried in the bill. (It's necessary to scroll far down in this 934-page bill to find them.) One rider calls for eliminating possible protection for sage grouse, a species whose critical habitat is severely threatened by energy development and cattle ranching. Another would halt recovery efforts for the sea otter. Beyond the ESA, many of these riders also threaten other benchmark environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Some of the bills under review would eliminate the right of citizens to sue the government if they think the ESA is being misapplied, would obviate the use of "best science" as mandated by the ESA, and would counter "critical habitat" consideration for species risking extinction. Some would apply economic and state political filters as criteria for listing species.
Taken individually, each bill and rider represents a significant menace. Taken collectively, a disturbing picture emerges of a smoothly-orchestrated effort to gut the ESA. While it is troubling to see proposals to remove current or future protection for sensitive species such as the gray wolf, red wolf, sage grouse, grizzly bear, wolverine, and many others, equally troubling is this unconstitutional effort to open our natural resources for corporate exploitation.
Beyond a Noah's Ark approach to saving species, the ESA safeguards ecological processes, such as predation, and maintains biodiversity. Today best science tells us that the most effective way to mitigate climate change is by maintaining ecological resiliency. The ESA protects keystone species, such as the gray wolf and sea otter, which create more resilient ecosystems by increasing biodiversity of entire food webs--a mechanism called trophic cascades. According to the journal Science, at time when climate change is already greatly accelerating extinction, we should not encourage further extinction.
We've made enormous national conservation policy inroads since the 1940s, but we risk losing all we have gained. In 1948, when Aldo Leopold entreated us to "think like a mountain" and conserve species such as the gray wolf due to their ability to benefit entire ecosystems, he also emphasized the importance of keeping "every cog and wheel" when managing public lands. Today, thanks to his influence and that of leaders such as Rachel Carson, no other nation on Earth has a policy safety net with the strength and beauty of our American environmental laws. To preserve our American environmental heritage at this critical juncture, please urge your senators and representatives to maintain the integrity of the ESA.
I was speaking in Congress when the gray wolf was delisted in 2011 via a budget rider. Back then, as now, I watched the Obama administration allow the ESA to be used as a partisan bargaining chip. Today I see our presidential administration enabling the same thing. However, the strong avowal of the importance of the ESA by the majority of congressional offices I visited last week gives me hope that we will overcome these challenges.
Dr. Cristina Eisenberg is the lead scientist at Earthwatch Institute, a Smithsonian Research Associate, and a Boone and Crockett Club professional member. She is the author of The Wolf's Tooth and The Carnivore Way.
A. n the mid-1990s, our family moved to a part of northwest Montana where there were more large carnivores (grizzly bears, black bears, and cougars) than there were people. By the late 1990s wolves had begun to naturally recolonize our land, dispersing south from Canada, driven by their instinct to leave home, find a mate, and claim new territory. One day my young daughters and I saw a pair of wolves hunting on our land. The following year we heard wolf pups howling—evidence that the wolves had formed a pack and produced pups. And within four years, things had changed noticeably on our land. The deer and elk had to be much more alert to avoid getting killed by wolves. This reduced these herbivores’ impacts on plants. Soon a meadow that had been heavily browsed by deer and elk became filled in with tall shrubs and trees. At the same time, bears and cougars continued to live on our land. These fascinating food web relationships inspired me to become an ecologist. I waited until my daughters grew up a bit then went to graduate school to learn more about how large carnivores help create healthier ecosystems—and how humans can live more peacefully with them.
A. I characterize our human relationships with carnivores as being in flux. Initially, these relationships resembled a war. We killed as many carnivores as we could, because as we settled North America and ranching spread across the West in the 1800s and early 1900s, the prevailing wisdom was that the only good predator was a dead one. However by the 1930s and 1940s, conservation leaders such as Aldo Leopold and Adolph Murie were teaching us that carnivores are essential to the healthy functioning of ecosystems, as part of nature’s “checks and balances.” Inspired by these conservationists’ insights into how nature works, between 1970 and 2000 we created powerful environmental laws in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Since then we have been working hard in these nations to recover species such as wolves, grizzly bears, and jaguars. As endangered carnivores are reaching the recovery goals mandated by environmental laws, we have begun to remove protection from them. In the US, the federal government has given state governments responsibility for carnivore management. In the case of the wolf, states are proceeding to greatly reduce numbers of this species through hunting and control actions. Some experts believe that by managing wolves as intensively as we are today (i.e., reducing their numbers severely), we are taking a huge step backward and resuming the predator wars. In other places, such as Alaska and the Yukon, predators have never been protected. In these far northern lands, today we are debating adopting a more tolerant approach toward predators. All of this suggests that while we have come a very long way in carnivore conservation, we still have far to go in learning to coexist with recovered populations of these animals.
A. Of all the species I profiled in The Carnivore Way, I was most surprised by the wolverine. Widely characterized as a fierce, tenacious carnivore, I was astonished to discover that even under the best conditions, members of this species often starve to death. When you add to that the profoundly negative impacts on the wolverine of climate change, fur trapping, and human development, you see that this species faces a most uncertain future. Today heroic measures are being considered to save this species from extinction in the 48 contiguous United States, such as a reintroduction in Colorado, which has more than twenty peaks above 14,000 feet in elevation. Yet, despite these measures and the wolverine’s formidable nature, it remains highly at risk.
A. To thrive, carnivores need connected habitat. Habitat connectivity is the ability of the landscape to allow animal movements and other ecological flows. The ability to move is the key to survival for large carnivores and many other species. Movement corridors function like lifelines, enabling animals to flow from one core area to another and to disperse from the place where they were born to a new home. Carnivores and other species use dispersal as a key survival mechanism to maintain genetic diversity. Species also use dispersal to adapt to climate change. Large carnivores have taught us that they need lots of space, and that national parks aren’t enough to meet their fundamental needs for food and a mate. For example, in the 1990s, during an eighteen-month period, Pluie, a young Canadian radio-collared wolf, traveled an area that encompassed more than 40,000 square miles, crossing more than 30 legal jurisdictions, including two Canadian provinces and several US states. She demonstrated that carnivores need connected landscapes that transcend political boundaries, and that thinking about conservation on a continental scale is essential in order for us to restore and recover carnivores. Pluie inspired conservationists and scientists to find continental-scale solutions, using the science of corridor ecology. These solutions include crossing structures, such as the Bow Valley wildlife crossings in Banff, which enable animals to find safe passage over the Trans-Canada Highway’s four lanes of heavy vehicle traffic.
A. That we have any carnivores left at all today is due to the web of environmental laws that protect them. This imperfect web provides the framework for wildlife conservation across the three nations in the Carnivore Way: Canada, the United States, and Mexico. In Canada, the Species at Risk Act, SARA, protects species from extinction. However, Canadian citizens have a limited ability to hold their federal government legally accountable for this law’s enforcement. In the United States, we have the Endangered Species Act (ESA), one of the most powerful environmental laws in the world, because it directly prohibits what we can do to wildlife. US citizens dissatisfied with this law’s implementation can sue the government. However, the ESA is cumbersome and expensive to apply. For example, as of 2013 it had taken one and a half decades to create a lynx recovery plan, two decades to protect the wolverine, and four decades to fully protect the jaguar and create a recovery plan. While successes such as the wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains (NRM) demonstrate that this law works, we have failures, such as the case of the Mexican gray wolf in the southwestern United States, which, due to illegal killing by humans, hasn’t reached the modest recovery threshold of 100 animals despite almost two decades of conservation efforts. Of all three nations, Mexico has the weakest environmental laws. But even there, people are making headway in conserving carnivores, such as the jaguar, with government support of private land stewardship. Tribal law sustains the rich cultural heritage and traditions of Canadian First Nations, US Native Americans, and Mexican indigenous people, via treaty rights and tribal sovereignty. However, these rights are far stronger in the US and Canada than in Mexico.
A. Large carnivores are showing us that their wildness serves a real ecological purpose. Large carnivores, which touch everything in the web of life, create biodiverse, healthy ecosystems. Richer in species, ecosystems that contain large carnivores will be more resilient to climate change, and therefore will better enable humans to live sustainably, capably, and happily on this planet.
Throughout the Carnivore Way, wolves, lynx, and other carnivores are teaching us about how rewilding nature by bringing them back from the brink of extinction is as necessary to the exchange of energy in food webs as the flow of soil nutrients. By creating trophic cascades—food web relationships in which apex predators affect their prey, which in turn affects prey food consumption—wolves and other apex predators increase ecosystem health. For example, lynx prey on snowshoe hares, which eat willows. By reducing snowshoe hare numbers, lynx indirectly create healthier willows, and these healthier willows can provide better habitat for songbirds. But in addition to actual, direct acts of predation, these predator–prey relationships can have indirect effects related to fear. In Glacier National Park, for example, fear of wolves makes elk more alert. To avoid getting attacked by wolves, elk must move around more and avoid spending time in aspen stands that have burned and become filled with deadfall. The downed trees in these burned stands make it difficult for elk to run to escape wolves. In Glacier, burned stands now contain thickets of aspen saplings growing vigorously above the reach of elk. Thus, together with fire, wolves are helping aspen flourish.
However, some carnivores, such as cougars, which are solitary and stealthy and can eat many different types of animals, do not have as strong of an apex predator signature in an ecosystem. Yet they are highly important members of an ecological community because of being predators. When cougars kill an animal, they eat their fill and typically cache the leftover meat to eat later. These carcasses end up providing a precious food resource to hundreds of other species—everything from golden eagles to weasels to insects.
A. It’s really difficult to pick a favorite story, as over the years I’ve had so many powerful lessons about coexistence from the carnivores. However, as I was finishing writing my book, I received a “capstone” lesson from a bear in the Great Bear Rainforest in coastal British Columbia. One morning near dawn, I sat very close to a wild grizzly bear mother, watching her teach her tiny cub to fish for salmon. She kept catching salmon and passing them to her cub. And the cub kept dropping the fish. At one point the frustrated bear mother looked at me calmly, making eye contact with me, a classic “What’s a mother to do?” expression on her face. And in that moment the distinction between species was gone and we were just two mothers at a stream. She and the other bears in that rainforest taught me that there are still places on this Earth where humans and carnivores can just live in peace. Spending time with those bears at the height of the salmon run showed me how it once was, between humans and wild creatures sharp of tooth and claw, long before we thought we knew everything and could grow forests and elk like crops. While we can’t quite re-create the close relations that we may once have had with living things and that I experienced in the Great Bear Rainforest, we can envision a world in which we base our relationships with carnivores on respect and trust.
A. Science tells us that if we want to have a healthy world, we need to conserve the carnivores. Doing so necessitates creating a new model for coexistence. This means developing a contemporary land ethic, one that takes us beyond seeing wildlife as a crop or a renewable resource. This means envisioning a world in which we base our relationships with carnivores on respect, rather than fear, and where we allow them to fulfill their ecological roles as much as possible. To do so, we need to give them room to roam, so that their benefits can cascade through whole ecosystems.
Sharing this Earth with thriving, healthy carnivores comes down to coexistence. The problem is that coexistence means different things to different people. To some people, coexistence means keeping carnivore numbers as low as possible short of extermination, in order to produce more moose for hunting by humans. Conversely, some define coexistence as protecting every carnivore, completely and always. Realistically, in our fragmented, modern world, coexistence lies somewhere between these two perspectives. To create and support thriving populations of large carnivores in our rapidly changing world we need to learn to live more sustainably and ethically on the earth. While science and environmental laws can help us learn to share landscapes with fierce creatures, ultimately coexistence has to do with our human hearts. Editor's note: Our Rewilding Adventure sweepstakes with Cristina is almost over! Enter by March 22 to win a trip for two to Yellowstone National Park for her Carnivores and Corridors course.
Publicity and marketing associate at Island Press; avid reader and tea drinker.
As was the case for other large carnivores in the lower 48 United States, by the 1960s grizzly bears were nearly extinct. This species had dropped to less than 2 percent of its former range south of Canada and occurred in six small, discrete populations, totaling 800-1,000 individuals.
In response, the US federal government listed the grizzly bear as "threatened" under the new Endangered Species Act (ESA). In 1983, Congress approved a recovery plan and convened the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone (stock image)
Protection worked. Between 1975 and 2007, Yellowstone's grizzlies increased from 136 to 571, inspiring US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to delist the species in 2008. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition sued, due to inadequate regulatory mechanisms post-delisting and whitebark pine decline.
While grizzly bears can eat over 270 different foods, they require high protein at specific times of year--such as before hibernation. Protein-rich, high-fat items like pine nuts enable them to pack on pounds. For breeding females, body fat determines their ability to reproduce. Pregnant females going into hibernation with insufficient body fat absorb their fertilized eggs. Given the importance of whitebark pine to this species, scientists linked grizzly bear reproductive decline to climate change.
Grizzly Bear Mother and Cubs (stock image)
Due to federal failure to apply best science, US District Judge Donald Molloy ruled in favor of relisting the species. He then asked USFWS to look further into the relationship between whitebark pine and grizzly bear demography.
Meanwhile, from 2008 to 2012, grizzly bear numbers in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) held steady at over 600. Some experts believe this population has reached carrying capacity and that because the grizzly is an omnivore, whitebark pine decline is unlikely to have a negative impact on it.
For any species, recovery hinges on the portion of the population capable of reproducing, called the ecologically effective population. Species with a low reproductive rate, such as the grizzly bear (which doesn't begin to reproduce until the age of 6-8 years, and then only has 1-3 young every 3 years), will have a low ecologically effective population. For example, a population of 100 bears may have only 15 reproducing females. Scientists have identified sustainable mortality for females with cubs of the year of 4 percent. Based on new science, in 2013 USFWS adjusted this to 7.6 percent, although not all agree.
How one counts grizzly bears has emerged as a leading delisting challenge. In 2013, USFWS found 741 grizzlies roaming the GYE, well above the recovery threshold of 500. However, this count may be biased because whitebark pine and cutthroat trout declines have altered bear feeding patterns, driving them to alternative high-protein, high-fat foods, such as army cutworm moths. The moths live on open, rocky slopes, above treeline. According to Daniel Doak and Kerry Cutler, bears eating moths are more visible and easier to count, making it seem like their numbers have gone up. These scientists suggest that the GYE grizzly population has probably increased far less than is believed. In 2013 in response to questions about habitat, climate change, and how one counts grizzly bears, USFWS published several recovery plan supplements.
Continue reading the full post here.
Dr. Cristina Eisenberg is the lead scientist at Earthwatch Institute, a Smithsonian Research Associate, and a Boone and Crockett Club professional member. She is the author of The Wolf's Tooth and The Carnivore Way.
This holiday season, give the gift of an Island Press book. With a catalog of more than 1,000 books, we guarantee there's something for everyone on your shopping list. Check out our list of staff selections, and share your own ideas in the comments below.
For the OUTDOORSPERSON in your life:
Water is for Fighting Over...and Other Myths about Water in the West by John Fleck
Anyone who has ever rafted down the Colorado, spent a starlit night on its banks, or even drank from a faucet in the western US needs Water is for Fighting Over. Longtime journalist John Fleck will give the outdoors lover in your life a new appreciation for this amazing river and the people who work to conserve it. This book is a gift of hope for the New Year.
Satellites in the High Country: Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man by Jason Mark
Do you constantly find your friend waxing poetic about their camping tales and their intimate connection to the peaceful, yet mysterious powers of nature? Sounds like they will relate to Jason Mark’s tales of his expeditions across a multitude of American landscapes, as told in Satellites in the High Country. More than a collection of stories, this narrative demonstrates the power of nature’s wildness and explores what the concept of wild has come to mean in this Human Age.
What Should a Clever Moose Eat?: Natural History, Ecology, and the North Woods by John Pastor
Is the outdoorsperson in your life all dressed up in boots, parka, and backpack with nowhere to go? Looking for meaning in another titanium French press coffeemaker for the camp stove? What Should a Clever Moose Eat leaves the technogadgets behind and reminds us that all we really need to bring to the woods when we venture out is a curious mind and the ability to ask a good question about the natural world around us. Such as, why do leaves die? What do pine cones have to do with the shape of a bird’s beak? And, how are blowflies important to skunk cabbage? A few quality hours among its pages will equip your outdoor enthusiast to venture forth and view nature with new appreciation, whether in the North Woods with ecologist John Pastor or a natural ecosystem closer to home.
Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change by Yoram Bauman
This holiday season, give your favorite climate-denier a passive aggressive “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” with The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change featuring self –described Stand-up Economist Yoram Bauman and award-winning illustrator Grady Klein. Give the gift of fun, entertaining basic understanding of what is, undeniably and not up for subjective debate, scientific fact!
For the HEALTH NUT in your life:
Unnatural Selection: How We Are Changing Life, Gene by Gene by Emily Monosson
Give the health nut in your life the gift of understanding with Unnatural Selection. Your friends and family will discover how chemicals are changing life on earth and how we can protect it. Plus, they’ll read fascinating stories about the search for a universal vaccine, the attack of relentless bedbugs, and a miracle cancer drug that saved a young father’s life.
For the ADVOCATE in your life:
Prospects for Resilience: Insights from New York City's Jamaica Bay by Sanderson, et. al
Need an antidote to the doom and gloom? Stressed-out environmental advocates will appreciate Prospects for Resilience: Insights from New York City's Jamaica Bay. It’s a deep dive into one of the most important questions of our time: how can we create cities where people and nature thrive together? Prospects for Resilience showcases successful efforts to restore New York’s much abused Jamaica Bay, but its lessons apply to any communities seeking to become more resilient in a turbulent world.
Ecological Economics by Josh Farley and Herman Daly
Blow the mind of the advocate in your life with a copy of Ecological Economics by the godfather of ecological economics, Herman Daly, and Josh Farley. In plain, and sometimes humorous English, they’ll come to understand how our current economic system does not play by the same laws that govern nearly every other system known to humankind—that is, the laws of thermodynamics. Given recent financial and political events, there’s a message of hope within the book as it lays out specific policy and social change frameworks.
For the CRAZY CAT PERSON in your life:
An Indomitable Beast: The Remarkable Journey of the Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz
The cat lovers in your life will lose themselves in An Indomitable Beast, an illuminating story about the journey of the jaguar. This is the perfect book for any of your feline loving friends, whether they want to pursue adventure with the big cats of the wild, or stay home with a book and cup of tea.
For the GARDENER in your life:
Wild by Design: Strategies for Creating Life-Enhancing Landscapes by Margie Ruddick
Give your favorite gardener an antidote to the winter blues. The lush photographs of Wild by Design, and inspirational advice on cultivating landscapes in tune with nature, transport readers to spectacular parks, gardens, and far-flung forests. This book is guaranteed to be well-thumbed and underlined by the time spring planting season arrives!
For the STUBBORN RELATIVE in your life:
Common Ground on Hostile Turf: Stories from an Environmental Mediator by Lucy Moore
For the person keeping the peace in your family this holiday season, the perfect gift is Common Ground on Hostile Turf, an inspiring how to guide demonstrating it is possible to bring vastly different views together. This book gives lessons learned on setting down at the table with the most diverse set of players and the journey they take to find common grounds and results. If your holiday dinner needs some mediation, look to the advice of author Lucy Moore.
Also consider: Communication Skills for Conservation Professionals by Susan Jacobson, Communicating Nature by Julia Corbett
For the HISTORY BUFF in your life:
The Past and Future City: How Historic Preservation is Reviving America's Communities by Stephanie Meeks with Kevin C. Murphy
When it comes to the the future of our cities, the secret to urban revival lies in our past. Tickle the fancy of your favorite history buff by sharing The Past and Future City, which takes readers on a journey through our country's historic spaces to explain why preservation is important for all communities. With passion and expert insight, this book shows how historic spaces explain our past and serve as the foundation of our future.
For the BUSINESS PERSON in your life:
Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature by Mark Tercek
For the aspiring CEO in your life who drools at phrases like "rates of return" and "investment," share the gift of Nature's Fortune, an essential guide to the world's economic (and environmental) well-being.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.
The environment is facing tough times in a Trump presidency. Within an hour of his inaguration, all mentions of climate change were removed from the White House website. Since then, key environmental regulations have been slashed, and a bill has been introduced calling for the abolishment of the EPA. So what's an environmentalist to do? Below, Island Press authors share their advice for agitating for action on climate change and continuing to push an environmental agenda forward in the face of an unsupportive administration.
Don't freak out. OK, maybe freaking out is in order. But do it judiciously. There are many gaps between administration pronouncements and actual policy. Do not react to every executive order, press release, or tweet. Find the connections between administration statements and real policies. For whatever issue you care about, there's a group - environmental, immigrants rights, etc. - that's been working on it for years. Find them, look to them for guidance, volunteer or give them money. Get involved.
-John Fleck, Water is for Fighting Over...and Other Myths about Water in the West
The threats facing big cats and their landscapes remain unchanged in light of the recent U.S. presidential election, but the urgency with which we need to protect them remains. There are many meaningful ways to take action on this front, whether it’s by supporting nonprofits like Panthera or purchasing goods from companies committed to using resources sustainably. Everyone should follow organizations whose missions speak to them and whose actions are in sync with their words. Share their work and start conversations about why and how animals and their landscapes are so important to the health of our planet and ultimately ourselves as well.
-Alan Rabinowitz, An Indomitable Beast and CEO of Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization
In my book, I describe how food waste contributes dramatically to climate change, noting that food waste is the world’s third-leading contributor of atmospheric greenhouse gases, which trails only two whole countries—China and the United States—in that category. I also describe how government regulations promote food waste and, hence, climate change. The USDA's National School Lunch Program and food-grading standards both promote massive amounts of food waste, and should be overhauled and/or eliminated. Even if our unhinged president does nothing about either of these issues, regular people can vote with their forks by, for example, purchasing ungraded produce at farmers markets and packing a school lunch for their child (and a second lunch for a student in need).
-Baylen Linnekin, Biting the Hands that Feed Us
One would think the great coniferous forests of the Northwest could withstand just about anything nature had to throw at them. In truth, however, these forests have been drastically changed by human activities. Increasingly unusual temperature and rainfall patterns are ratcheting up the threat level. A person would surely be excused for thinking that a one degree Celsius rise in average temperature would have no effect on these magnificent trees and the animals they harbor, but consider that such a small temperature increase would raise the lower edge of the snowpack by about 500 feet. That’s a lot of water no longer contributing to spring and summer runoff when plants and animals are most thirsty. Such a temperature increase would also cause the vegetation to transpire a lot more water, drying out the soils and shrinking the creeks and waterways. Forests that have dried out too much are more susceptible to widespread pest and disease infestations as well as to fire.
All is not lost, however; there are ways to deal with climate effects. Probably the most straightforward of these is to maintain a diverse forest with a variety of tree species, tree ages, and vegetation layers. Openings in the forest canopy can help to support a healthy shrub layer. Vegetation around streams helps to cool them so they can support cold-water fish, such as salmon. Forest restoration efforts following fires or other disturbances can help. Planting diverse native species and perhaps using seed or stock from an area where temperatures are more similar to those predicted over next several decades can help these forests to be resilient to climate change and other disturbances that come with changing climate. Replacing small culverts with larger ones that are carefully set can accommodate spring floods while helping fish to navigate upstream when water flows are reduced.
People concerned about the future of these forests can get involved in local forest planning. Speaking up for the forests, and providing a voice for their future and that of the communities that rely on them, is a great way to roll up your sleeves and make a difference.
-Bea Van Horne, People, Forests, and Change
1.) Get involved locally. There are environment, climate change issues that are impacting your community. Get involved on the local, grassroots level.
2.) Don’t get discouraged. Get informed, know the facts (and yes, there is such a thing as factual information) and don’t lose your resolve.
-Alan Kolok, Modern Poisons
There are ample opportunities for everyone to get involved with local planning to address climate change. Tools you can use to make your communities or natural areas more resilient and resistant to climate change include: 1) retaining and restoring moist areas – such as by keeping downed wood and ephemeral wetlands, installing riparian buffer zones, and paying attention to shading including hill-shading which naturally increases moisture potential; and 2) a mixed approach to natural-area management can increase both habitat heterogeneity at larger spatial scales and consequently species diversity, and then think about linking those habitats together across larger areas with corridors to reduce fragmentation.
-Dede Olson, People, Forests and Change
As the federal government proceeds to put its head further into the sand on climate change, the action will increasingly shift to local policy. Cities can’t solve the problem through regulation—their jurisdictions are too limited. But they can help through purchasing policies, utility pricing and transportation planning. Think globally/act locally suddenly takes on more significance than ever.
-Grady Gammage, The Future of the Suburban City
You can’t stop human-caused climate change on your own, but you can slow it down a bit. And you can do it with a president in the White House who’s working to uncork new gushers of heat-trapping carbon dioxide.
Slowing climate change begins with personal behavior, since all human beings contribute heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. For those thinking about having children, it’s worth pondering that managing greenhouse gas emissions will be a challenge for as long as we’re on the planet. That’s a good argument for having a small family—or foregoing childbearing if ambivalent about becoming a parent. A smaller world population will have an easier time keeping emissions low and adapting to the massive changes on the way. In our own lives, without withdrawing from the world, we can walk our talk in eschewing emissions-intensive actions that are inefficient, frivolous, or do little or nothing for anyone’s joy or quality of life.
Without major policy change, behavior change falls way short of game change, and it’s game changing that the world desperately needs. For that, nothing short of expressing our views as often as we can manage—in letters to legislators and newspapers, in petition signatures, in responses to pollsters, in marching in protests, even in organizing communities—is likely to make enough difference to notice. A rising tax on carbon is essential, and while we can differ on the details of how to do that (ideally returning most or all revenue generated to citizens), nothing we attempt will turn the corner on climate change until the price of fossil fuels rises.
We can think about connections, too—climate change relates to the food we eat, the appliances we use, the electricity and water we pay for. Policies that are local and statewide as well as national can make a difference with these.
Finally, we can support women’s reproductive rights—the theme of the marches that went global on the second day of Trump’s presidency. Unintended pregnancy undermines women’s capacity to contribute productively to society, including to slowing climate change, and it takes us further from a future of sustainable human populations more likely to manage emissions and climate change safely.
-Robert Engelman, More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want
What can we do to ensure that sound science continues to inform how we address climate change? We can urge the president to hire a national science advisor and other scientists with appropriate credentials in ecology and engineering to fill key posts in his administration. As members of a democratic society, we can support freedom of scientific inquiry and diversity in science. Specifically, we can comment publicly on proposed policies that affect the environment and vote accordingly. On a personal level, we can get directly involved in supporting science that informs climate policy by participating in science via citizen science. A variety of organizations enable public participation in science such as Earthwatch Institute. Whatever our approach, putting science into action represents our best hope to address climate change.
-Cristina Eisenberg, The Carnivore Way
1) Do that which only you can do and at least some of what everyone must do.
2) Don’t compete: Discern ways that your actions complement others’ actions toward the goods of health and justice.
3) Resist tyranny. Speak out, especially when someone tells you not to.
4) Have each others’ backs.
5) Recognize that not all hopes are equally worthy, and that skillful love requires intimate knowledge.
-Julianne Warren, Aldo Leopold's Odyssey, Tenth Anniversary Edition
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.