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23 May 2013

Gaining Ground, by Forrest Pritchard

Gaining Ground, by Forrest Pritchard

Last week, I got a great new book from Amazon. I had pre-ordered it months ago, so when it finally arrived, I was delighted, and dove right in. Within 24 hours, I had finished it. It’s the story of how my friend Forrest Pritchard re-made his family’s farm into a sustainable enterprise by going organic. The book is called Gaining Ground, and it’s less academic than something like The Omnivore’s …

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29 November 2012

Living in the Appalachian Forest, by Chris Bolgiano

Living in the Appalachian Forest, by Chris Bolgiano

Last week, I finished reading Living in the Appalachian Forest: True Tales of Sustainable Forestry, by Chris Bolgiano. It’s a grab-bag of stories from the forested mountains of the south-central Appalachians, ranging from Pennsylvania down to Kentucky and maybe Georgia, too. West Virginia and Virginia get the most attention. The driving question behind the book is: How should I manage my land? Since this is a key question in my …

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4 October 2012

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan

The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan

In the delivery room last week, while we waited for Lily’s labor to ramp up, I finished reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. I think it was one of the most insightful, important books I’ve ever read. I was pre-disposed to like it, because I really enjoyed Pollan’s earlier book The Botany of Desire, which served as four botanico-cultural “micro-histories” in one book (one on apples, one on marijuana, …

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22 April 2012

Time, Mind, Earth, Junior

Time, Mind, Earth, Junior

Once again, we roll around to another Earth Day. I find myself in a more-contemplative-than-normal mood this year, and I’d like to take this opportunity to share a bit about what I’ve been thinking. This is a post about the personal side of geoscience – taking data, and its logical implications, and smashing it into life, and seeing what comes out the other side. Two years ago (to the day!), …

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31 October 2011

7 billion people

The root of every issue that we collectively term “environmental problems” is human overpopulation. It wouldn’t matter if everyone on Earth drove a Hummer and used incandescent light bulbs and dumped raw sewage in their local watershed — if there were only fifteen people on the Earth. But the reverse is also true: if everyone lives a low-impact lifestyle, it still has an enormous aggregate effect on the planet – …

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12 January 2011

Experimental vs. historical science, and environmentalism

Experimental vs. historical science, and environmentalism

A diagram on “how science works” betrays an “experimentalist” bias. This sets Callan off on a rumination on the much-maligned validity of historical science, and that leads to a discussion of the Big Experiment, which is humanity’s influence on the Earth system.

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5 January 2011

Dirt: the Erosion of Civilizations, by David Montgomery

The final book I read over the break was Dirt: the Erosion of Civilizations, by David Montgomery. Montgomery got a MacArthur “Genius” Award for his soil work, and I use an article he wrote for GSA Today (2007) as one of the assigned readings for my Environmental Geology course. In Dirt, he lays out the case for protecting civilization by protecting soils. Attention is given to soil-forming processes, and rates …

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Dirt: the Erosion of Civilizations, by David Montgomery

The final book I read over the break was Dirt: the Erosion of Civilizations, by David Montgomery. Montgomery got a MacArthur “Genius” Award for his soil work, and I use an article he wrote for GSA Today (2007) as one of the assigned readings for my Environmental Geology course. In Dirt, he lays out the case for protecting civilization by protecting soils. Attention is given to soil-forming processes, and rates …

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29 August 2010

Follow directions!

This recycling collection can in Istanbul amused me:

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7 May 2010

"Climate Change and the Integrity of Science"

The following letter, signed by 255 members of the National Academy of Science, appears in the current issue of the journal Science. I wholeheartedly concur with the content of this letter, and republish it here in the interest of getting its message out to the world. Please take the next four minutes of your life to read it. As a responsible citizen of the planet Earth, I encourage you to …

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