The Common Good
May 2009

Green Reads

by Molly Marsh | May 2009

Books on the environment, the economy, and equity.

Whether you’re a die-hard “greenie” or someone just trying to keep up with the issues, there’s a blizzard of books out there that address the perils our planet is facing. In previous issues, we’ve highlighted The Green Collar Economy, by Van Jones, which examines how a “Green New Deal” can address economic inequality and environmental devastation, and Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy, which urges us to create localized economies that are sustainable and community-oriented. Here are others to check out.

Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis, by Vandana Shiva. Environmental, economic, and agricultural degradation are deeply connected—industrial agricultural practices not only destroy the environment, but actually cause hunger and poverty. Shiva says we must return to local economies and small-scale food production, and provides examples of how we can use agricultural principles to build a sustainable, just society. (South End Press)

Christians, the Care of Creation, and Global Climate Change, edited by Lindy Scott. Part one of this essay collection addresses aspects of climate change, including its impact on our health and the economy. The second half looks at the greening of Wheaton College and the steps and people involved in making it happen—former student Ben Lowe among them (Pickwick Publications). Lowe has written his own book on the topic, Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for Creation, geared toward the Millennial Generation. Lowe works with campuses, churches, and communities to start local movements and support existing ones, so the book offers a timely look at what’s happening on campuses around these issues. (InterVarsity Press)

Holy Ground: A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation, edited by Lyndsay Moseley. A variety of faith leaders articulate the spiritual imperative of caring for the Earth—Wendell Berry, Sally Bingham, Pope Benedict XVI, Terry Tempest Williams, Joel Hunter, and Abraham Joshua Heschel, among others. (Sierra Club Books)

You Are Here: Exposing the Vital Link Between What We Do and What That Does to Our Planet, by Thomas Kostigen. Kostigen examines the most environmentally scary places on earth—Mumbai, for example, the final resting place for much of our computer hardware. Other “encampments of ruin”—places that demonstrate how our actions are changing the landscape—include Linfen City, China, the Amazon jungle, and Fresh Kills Landfill in New York. (HarperOne)

Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth, by Ilia Delio OSF, Keith Douglass Warner OFM, and Pamela Wood. We have lost a Christian theology that conveys the idea that “creation is God speaking to us,” the authors write. They articulate a Franciscan spirituality of creation, one that encompasses ecology, theology, and reflective action. (St. Anthony Messenger Press)

Race, Place, and Environmental Justice After Hurricane Katrina, edited by Robert Bullard and Beverly Wright. Hurricane Katrina showed that the effects of climate change have the greatest impact on the poor and people of color. The authors look at developments—historical and modern—that left these populations vulnerable to economic and environmental devastation. (Westview Press)

Unbowed, by 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, recounts Maathai’s environmental activism that led her to found the Green Belt Movement, which encouraged women to plant trees—not only to reverse the devastating effects of deforestation in Kenya, but to improve their economic lives. Despite facing discrimination and jail time, Maathai persevered—and the movement is going strong. (Anchor)

A New Climate for Theology: God, the World, and Global Warming, by Sallie McFague. What role does theology play in our response to climate change? A big one—Christian faith is concerned with a just and sustainable existence for all of God’s creation. McFague writes that we live and move and have our being in God; our world is enclosed within God. Our job is to acknowledge this and live accordingly. (Fortress Press)

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America, by Thomas Friedman. The New York Times columnist—and free-market fan—says the United States can, and should, lead the world in strategies for clean power, alternate energy, conservation, and energy-efficient systems. (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Molly Marsh is an associate editor of Sojourners.

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