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The Green Life: Book Roundup Wednesday: Inspirations for Local Change

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January 05, 2011

Book Roundup Wednesday: Inspirations for Local Change

Books about environmentalismEach Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today, we're recommending books to inspire local change for a better world.

The Circumference of Home: One Man's Yearlong Quest for a Radically Local Life (by Kurt Hoelting, $17, Da Capo Press, 2010) Kurt Hoelting, commercial fisherman, wilderness guide, and meditation teacher, was shocked one day to find that his carbon footprint was more than twice the national average despite his efforts to live a low-impact life. This book is his account of a yearlong commitment to travel no further than a 100 kilometers from his home in Puget Sound. His walking, cycling, and kayaking adventures are admirable and inspirational, proving that we are all capable of effecting change right from where we are.

Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid & Beyond The American Dream (by William Powers, $11, New World Library, 2010) A decade of aid work in the underdeveloped world left author William Powers full of despair about the problems he saw in the world. But after meeting Dr. Jackie Benton, an American physician who chooses to live in a 12-foot-by-12-foot cabin in the woods of rural North Carolina, he became inspired by her "see, be, do" way of life. This eye-opening memoir explores Powers's quest for a sustainable and meaningful life, and illustrates how much there is to be gained by living without.

Actions Speak Loudest: Keeping Our Promise for a Better World (by Robert McKinnon, $19, Lyons Press, 2009) With contributions from 35 committed world citizens, this book of hope for a better tomorrow explores how we can leave the world better off. Each chapter opens with black-and-white portraits of people who embody the human element of the 32 issues addressed — issues critical to the well-being of the next generation — and each ends with ideas for simple actions in our homes, our communities, and our nation.

Climate Refugees (by Collectif Argos, $21, MIT Press, 2010) From the dust bowl that was once Lake Chad to the melting permafrost in Alaska, ten journalists take readers to nine places around the world that have been devastated by climate change. The stunning color photographs and interviews with people affected by erosion, rising sea levels, floods, and hurricanes raise awareness about the tragic consequences of global warming, potentially inspiring page-flippers to protect their own communities from such fates.

Low Carbon Communities: Imaginative Approaches to Combating Climate Change Locally (edited by Michael Peters, Shane Fudge, and Tim Jackson, $130, Edward Elgar Pub, 2010) This book, which will appeal mostly to academic researchers and policymakers, highlights that community action is crucial in mobilizing social change. It explores the challenges for local-level climate change, and provides models and case studies of low-carbon community activities that will help guide us toward a sustainable future.

--Molly Oleson

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