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The Age of Consequences: A Chronicle of Concern and Hope Hardcover – January 13, 2015
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"Age of Consequences admirably shows how ranching and farming, when done right, can be not only profitable, but can heal land and people at the same time."Weekly Alibi
" White strikes a refreshing tone that will resonate with readers turned off by the superior or condescending attitudes of some environmentalist writers. Throughout, he balances abstract questions and ideas with tangible life experiences. readers will be engaged by his frank and thoughtful discussion of our modern environment." Kirkus
"White’s considerable insight emphasizes the need to save a diminished world” before the point of no return." Publishers Weekly
" a series of deeply personal essays that cogently examine pertinent issues from both grassroots and global perspectives. With a tone that is predominantly upbeat yet tempered by the intensely personal concerns of a parent, White offers specific examples of beneficial strategies that can mitigate present conditions and secure future successes." Booklist
About the Author
Wendell Berry is the author of over fifty books of poetry, fiction, and essays. He lives with his wife in Kentucky.
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One example is White's advice to cut down pinon pines to provide more space for grasses. He ignores that the nuts from these trees are a vital food source for many animals and also for the animals that in turn prey on them. A oak woodland supports 500 species but an area subject to cattle grazing supports only a few species and these are not native species.
He states that methane from ruminants is not a reason for people to not eat red meat. This ignores the total impact of the meat industry that requires a vast supply of GMO corn and wheat with the damage done to the environment and people's health by the repeated application of glyphosates (10 times with a wheat crop by the time it is harvested) or the amount of oil and natural gas that goes into the production of artificial fertilizers and pesticides and herbicides and the contribution to global warming.
I live in California where ruminants have devastated the landscape and have done irreparable damage. The plants were eaten to the ground and so topsoil has been lost and the ground is so heavily compacted that no native plants can get a toe hold. It is also highly misleading to talk about the benefits of best practices by a tiny portion of the cattle industry when their overall impact is so harmful.
White also is evidently ignorant of the degree to which taxpayer money has gone to subsidize the tree harvesters and miners and cattle grazers who make use of public land. The US Forest Service recovers pennies on the dollar with its cost to provide and maintain roads for the logging industry. The same applies to grazing fees that do not begin to recover the cost of the agencies programs to mitigate the damage done by cattle on public lands.
I also disagree with his belief that the environment must provide an economic return for a minority of the population to have value to the world at large. It needs to be recognized that the gold and coal mining benefits the shareholders who are less than 10% of the population while poisoning the drinking water and poisoning the air for the people. These externalities are what is completely ignored by Courtney White in his book.
In economics and exernality is described as a side effect or consequence of an industrial or commercial activity that affects other parties without this being reflected in the cost of the goods or services involved. We have that with owners of gold mines who remove the gold but leave being slag heaps with arsenic and lead that are leached into the water supply. We see that with loggers who remove the trees and the end result is massive soil erosion that suffocates life in streams and creates massive flooding that destroys bridges and roads and people's homes. This is why unbridled capitalism is so destructive as the capitalist is a thief who takes more than he pays for and leaves others to make up the difference.
This book's strength is in the authors writing skill. He can effortlessly lead a reader from personal reveries and family memories into the deeper currents of regret and anger at the shape of the world his children will be living in. Still, he doesn't let this darkness blur his vision of what is possible in returning life to even badly degraded ecosystems. He is well experienced with the most difficult work of building trust and agreement between hardened adversaries, and has scars to prove it. What makes his stories compelling is the success he has had by stubbornly looking for truth and convincing others that it can work for everyone involved.
The only criticism I will make is the same that I make for many such books. Taking into account the huge array of ecological disasters in motion, plus the barely guessed at impact of climate change, it's irresponsible to use the word 'hope'. It has no more promise than the word 'salvation' at a tent revival. We have created our fate, and it is inescapable. Good people will follow their nature and work to save what they can, but it will not be much.
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White. It was a hard read, not because of the linguistics, but because of
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