Class of 2012
This year we have added a third book to the two excellent books recommended as supplemental reading. We hope to convene some after class discussions to examine the analysis and proposals contained in these stimulating tracts.
“Protecting New Jersey’s Environment: from cancer alley to the new Garden State”
Thomas Belton, 2011 Rutgers University Press
As the most densely populated state New Jersey is destined to have a unique environmental history. Tom Belton is a fine writer who happens to have worked for the past 25 years at the place where state policy meets the environment, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. His brand new book is an encapsulation of modern environmental history in NJ. By focusing on people he has known he not only holds our interest but helps remind us why the rules are written. Cancer clusters, toxic fish, environmental crime, brownfields, woodlands and watersheds are part of the picture that Belton uses to unveil how nascent science and efforts at regulation co-evolved in New Jersey. It is not always a pretty picture but when you finish this book you do feel you have shared some of the insights, hopes and frustrations that were part of the careers of Tom Belton and many others who have attempted to find a balance between the short and long term public interests that are at the heart of almost every environmental issue.
"Plant Communities of NJ: A Study in Landscape Diversity"
Beryl Robichaud Collins and Karl H. Anderson, 1994 Rutgers University Press
This is an updated version of the 1973 classic "Vegetation of New Jersey". Probably the single best book for anyone seeking to understand the unique interrelationships of geology, soil, vegetation and environment in New Jersey. What more can we say? Also available free on-line from Google.
"The Bridge at the Edge of the World" J. G. Speth, 2009 Yale University Press
Speth is Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and founder of the Natural Resources Defence Council. His book begins with a clear and scholarly analysis of where we stand environmentally. You will have the urge to underline items on almost every page as he neatly presents the troubled state of our planet's systems. He asserts and documents that despite all efforts to date we are not getting the job done. Then in the latter part of the book he examines the economic/political/social system in which we live and makes the case that it contains serious flaws which cannot properly take ecological and social needs into account. Whether you agree with him or not, his analysis and critique of the corporation and his prescriptions for change will in itself make for stimulating thought and discussion!
Are we in the New Garden State? Is Speth the incarnation of Karl Marx? You be the judge and share your ideas with classmate later this year.