The second consecutive pandemic Earth Day (April 22) brings with it renewed hope this planet’s health will improve, and that the well-being of its more than 7.8 billion inhabitants won’t be harmed for a period of years by the mutating coronavirus.
Earth Day can be a vehicle to help people become more environmentally conscious, get involved in local efforts and educate themselves about such matters as climate change, energy issues, illegal dumping, at-risk species and the protection of waterways.
In pre-pandemic days, community cleanup programs, school projects, public library events and government initiatives were a big part of Earth Day – often family- focused, outdoor activities that could lead volunteer participants to do other environmentally-friendly things during the year.
Regarding self-education, books might be a good starting point.
Below is a short list of nonfiction and fiction titles that may be of interest to HalifaxToday.ca readers. There are many more, of course, that have environmental themes and shed some light on the challenges our world is facing.
For parents, the internet is full of good ideas about children’s books on nature, wildlife, protecting the environment and even about teenage climate crusader Greta Thunberg.
Earth Day 2021 marks the 51st year of the worldwide endeavour.
There’s Something In The Water: Environmental Racism In Indigenous And Black Communities (2018)
Ingrid Waldron, a Dalhousie University sociologist and faculty member, tackles environmental contamination and how it has harmed Mi’kmaw and African-Nova Scotian communities. For example: the former City of Halifax’s garbage dump was situated next to the Black community of Africville. (Halifax-born actor Elliot Page directed a documentary film, released in 2019, based on Waldron’s book.)
The Overstory (2018)
American writer Richard Powers’ intriguing and well-researched novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2019, weaves together stories of eco-activists/eco-terrorists and their big fight to save big trees. The main characters’ backstories are separate and different at the outset, and then the author has them joined in a common bond.
David Suzuki: The Autobiography (2006)
It’s more than a book about the environment, as it includes necessary personal material about Suzuki’s Japanese Canadian heritage. But his passion for the natural world shines through in passages describing environmental causes at home and abroad which have been close to his heart. Readers already know, or will learn, Suzuki has worn many hats: geneticist, broadcaster, author, activist, founding member of a nonprofit environmental group bearing his name.
The Living Beach: Life, Death and Politics Where the Land Meets the Sea (1998)
In this study of beaches and their various components, Silver Donald Cameron, who died in Halifax last year at age 82, melds beach experts’ science with his own theories. The result is a book he referred to, in 2012, as his “most extensive piece of environmental writing – an account of the fascinating dance of wind, sand and water.”
In the Shadow of Man (1971)
British primatologist Jane Goodall is known around the world for her decades-long work to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. To this end, the book is a nonfiction tale of her earlier experiences as a researcher in the field and a champion of these creatures in the wilds of Africa. At first, the chimps would take off whenever Goodall approached. Later, they observed her observing them.
Silent Spring (1962)
Rachel Carson’s controversial book made a huge impact on the pesticide industry in the United States, American politicians and participants in the environmental movement’s infancy – including a young David Suzuki. Carson’s work was attacked by industry types and her character was called into question. Silent Spring wasn’t only a wakeup call about the indiscriminate poisoning of nature and about commercial pollution, it motivated the White House to act on protecting the environment. Carson died in 1964 at age 56.
Michael Lightstone is a freelance reporter living in Dartmouth