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Environmental Science

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  1. 4.4 hrs • 11/1/2015 • Unabridged

    The word “sustainability” has been connected to everything from a certain kind of economic development to corporate promises about improved supply sourcing. But despite the apparent ubiquity of the term, the concept of sustainability has come to mean a number of specific things. In this accessible guide to the meanings of sustainability, Kent Portney describes the evolution of the idea and examines its application in a variety of contemporary contexts—from economic growth and consumption to government policy and urban planning. Portney takes as his starting point the 1987 definition of sustainability by the World Commission on Environment and Development as economic development activity that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” At its heart, Portney explains, sustainability focuses on the use and depletion of natural resources. It is not the same as environmental protection or natural resource conservation; it is more about finding some sort of steady state so that the earth can support both human population and economic growth. Topics covered by Portney include:Political opposition to the promotion of sustainability, which usually questions the need for sustainability or calls its costs unacceptable;Collective and individual consumption of material goods and resources and to what extent they must be curtailed to achieve sustainability;The role of the private sector and the co-opting of sustainability by corporations;Government policy on sustainability at the international, national, and subnational levels; andHow cities could become models for sustainability action.

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    Sustainability by Kent E. Portnoy, Kent E. Portney
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  2. 10.4 hrs • 3/17/2015 • Unabridged

    While examining the history of our planet and actively exploring our present environment, science journalist Michael Tennesen describes what life on earth could look like after the next mass extinction. A growing number of scientists agree we are headed toward a mass extinction, perhaps in as little as three hundred years. There have already been five in the last 600 million years, including the Cretaceous extinction, during which an asteroid knocked out the dinosaurs. Though these events were initially destructive, they were also prime movers of evolutionary change in nature. And we can see some of the warning signs of another extinction event coming as our oceans lose both fish and oxygen. In The Next Species, Michael Tennesen questions what life might be like after it happens. Tennesen discusses the future of nature and whether humans will make it through the bottleneck of extinction. Without man, could the seas regenerate, returning to what they were before fishing vessels? Could life suddenly get very big as it did before the arrival of humans? And what if man survives the coming catastrophes but in reduced populations? Would those groups be isolated enough to become distinct species? Could the conquest of Mars lead to another form of human? Could we upload our minds into a computer and live in a virtual reality? Or could genetic engineering create a more intelligent and long-lived creature that might shun the rest of us? And how would we recognize the next humans? Are they with us now? Tennesen delves into the history of the planet and travels to rain forests, canyons, craters, and caves all over the world to explore the potential winners and losers of the next era of evolution. His predictions, based on reports and interviews with top scientists, have vital implications for life on earth today.

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    The Next Species by Michael Tennesen

    The Next Species

    10.4 hrs • 3/17/15 • Unabridged
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  3. 8.8 hrs • 1/21/2015 • Unabridged

    Monster wildfires in Australia, January golfers in Price Edward Island, ruined fruit crops in California, and starving polar bears in the north: climate change is no longer a vague threat. Over the next few centuries climate changes will be greater and occur faster than at any time in ten thousand years. Brilliantly researched, Keeping Our Cool is an engaging examination of global warming, with specific emphasis on Canada. Weaver explains the levels of greenhouse gas emissions needed to stabilize the climate and offers solutions and a path toward a sustainable future.

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    Keeping Our Cool

    8.8 hrs • 1/21/15 • Unabridged
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  4. 12.4 hrs • 9/10/2014 • Unabridged

    As Diane Ackerman writes in her brilliant new book, The Human Age, “our relationship with nature has changed…radically, irreversibly, but by no means all for the bad. Our new epoch is laced with invention. Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable.” Ackerman is justly celebrated for her unique insight into the natural world and our place in it. In this landmark book, she confronts the unprecedented reality that one prodigiously intelligent and meddlesome creature, Homo sapiens, is now the dominant force shaping the future of planet Earth. Humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” We tinker with nature at every opportunity; we garden the planet with our preferred species of plants and animals, many of them invasive; and we have even altered the climate, threatening our own extinction. Yet we reckon with our own destructive capabilities in extraordinary acts of hope-filled creativity: we collect the DNA of vanishing species in a “frozen ark,” equip orangutans with iPads, and create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. With her distinctive gift for making scientific discovery intelligible to the layperson, Ackerman takes us on an exhilarating journey through our new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating—perhaps saving—our future and that of our fellow creatures. A beguiling, optimistic engagement with the changes affecting every part of our lives, The Human Age is a wise and beautiful book that will astound, delight, and inform intelligent life for a long time to come.

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    The Human Age

    12.4 hrs • 9/10/14 • Unabridged
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  5. 11.4 hrs • 4/8/2014 • Unabridged

    An award-winning journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist offers an insightful, no-holds-barred exploration of today’s most controversial yet promising new energy technology: fracking.  Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of injecting fluid into the ground at extremely high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks and release the oil and natural gas inside. It has been the subject of three major films, countless news articles, and has become a hotly contested topic both for its environmental impact and its positive effect on the economy and job creation. In The Boom, Russell Gold examines both sides of the arguments and illuminates the truth of this frequently misunderstood technology.  It is a thrilling journey filled with memorable and colorful characters: a green-minded Texas oilman who created the first modern frack; an Oklahoman natural gas empire-builder who gave the world an enormous new supply of energy but was brought down by his own success; and a cast of many. Gold melds his natural gift for engaging, in-depth storytelling and reportage with his insight into the energy industry to bring to life the fascinating history of how this major new source is changing the way we use energy. The Boom is not simply the story of fracking, it is the compelling and thought-provoking story of the modern global economy and how the United States—and the world—have been forever changed.

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    The Boom

    11.4 hrs • 4/8/14 • Unabridged
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  6. 1 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5 (1)
    10.0 hrs • 2/11/2014 • Unabridged

    A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

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    The Sixth Extinction

    10.0 hrs • 2/11/14 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5 (1)
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  7. 15.2 hrs • 11/1/2013 • Unabridged

    The riveting, untold story of the men who are transforming global energy In five years, the United States has seen a historic burst of oil and natural gas production, easing our insatiable hunger for energy. A new drilling process called fracking has made us the world’s fastest growing energy power, on track to pass Saudi Arabia by 2020. But despite headlines and controversy, no previous book has shown how the revolution really happened. The Frackers tells the dramatic tale of how a group of ambitious and headstrong wildcatters ignored the ridicule of experts and derision of colleagues to pursue massive, long-overlooked deposits. Against all odds, they changed the world—and made astonishing fortunes in the process. Zuckerman’s exclusive access enabled him to get close to men like George Mitchell, who developed a new way to drill for gas in shale rock; Harold Hamm, who discovered so much oil he’s now worth more than the estate of Steve Jobs; and Aubrey McClendon, who lost more than $2 billion on a misguided gambit. Zuckerman shows how the frackers are now using their wealth to shake up Hollywood, education, politics, sports, and other fields, much like the Rockefellers and Gettys before them. He also explores the debate over the environmental risks of fracking, and whether those risks are worth it for the United States to achieve energy independence and for the rest of the world to follow.

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    The Frackers

    15.2 hrs • 11/1/13 • Unabridged
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  8. 9.2 hrs • 9/17/2013 • Unabridged

    Bestselling author and environmental activist Bill McKibben recounts the personal and global story of the fight to build and preserve a sustainable planet. McKibben is not a person you’d expect to find handcuffed and behind bars, but that’s where he found himself in the summer of 2011 after leading the largest civil disobedience in thirty years, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House. With the Arctic melting, the Midwest in drought, and Irene scouring the Atlantic, McKibben recognized that action was needed if solutions were to be found. Some of those would come at the local level, where McKibben joins forces with a Vermont beekeeper raising his hives as part of the growing trend toward local food. Other solutions would come from a much larger fight against the fossil-fuel industry as a whole. Oil and Honey is McKibben’s account of these two necessary and mutually reinforcing sides of the global climate fight—from the center of the maelstrom and from the growing hive of small-scale local answers. With empathy and passion he makes the case for a renewed commitment on both levels, telling the story of raising one year's honey crop and building a social movement that’s still cresting.

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    Oil and Honey

    9.2 hrs • 9/17/13 • Unabridged
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  9. 10.2 hrs • 6/27/2013 • Unabridged

    Our rapidly industrializing world has an insatiable hunger for energy and conventional sources are struggling to meet demand. Oil is running out, coal is damaging our climate, many nations are abandoning nuclear; yet solar, wind, and water will never be a complete replacement. The solution, says Daniel Clery in this deeply researched and revelatory audiobook, is to be found in the original energy source: the Sun itself. There, at its center, the fusion of 620 million tons of hydrogen every second generates an unfathomable amount of energy. By replicating even a tiny piece of the Sun’s power on Earth, we can secure all the heat and energy we would ever need. Nuclear fusion scientists have pursued this simple yet extraordinary ambition for decades. Skeptics say it will never work but, as A Piece of the Sun makes clear, large-scale nuclear fusion is scientifically possible and has many advantages over other options. Fusion is clean, green and virtually limitless, and Clery argues passionately and eloquently that the only thing keeping us from proving its worth is our politicians’ shortsightedness. The world energy industry is worth trillions of dollars, divert just a tiny fraction of that into researching fusion and we would soon know if it is workable. Timely and authoritative, A Piece of the Sun is a rousing call-to-arms to seize this chance of avoiding the looming energy crisis.

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    A Piece of the Sun

    10.2 hrs • 6/27/13 • Unabridged
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  10. 11.8 hrs • 6/25/2013 • Unabridged

    Why does the bumblebee have better aerodynamics than a 747? What structural design is shared by a tornado and a blood vessel? Since the Industrial Revolution, manufacturers have built things by a process known as “heat, beat, and treat.” They use enormous amounts of energy to heat raw material, shape it with heavy machinery, and maintain its design, strength, and durability with toxic chemicals. Now, in a world of depleted natural resources, entrepreneurs and scientists are turning to nature to inspire future products that are more energy and cost efficient. Biomimicry, the science of employing nature to advance sustainable technology, is arguably one of the hottest new business concepts. At the center of this growing movement has been award-winning inventor and biomimetic entrepreneur Jay Harman. In The Shark’s Paintbrush, Harman introduces us to pioneering engineers in a wide array of businesses who are uncovering and copying nature’s hidden marvels. He shows business leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs how we can reconcile creating more powerful, lucrative technologies with maximizing sustainability. He injects a whole new vocabulary and way of thinking into the business sphere that speaks to both small start-ups and corporate giants.

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    The Shark’s Paintbrush by Jay Harman

    The Shark’s Paintbrush

    11.8 hrs • 6/25/13 • Unabridged
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  11. 1 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5 (1)
    18.5 hrs • 3/19/2013 • Unabridged

    The riveting true story of a small town ravaged by industrial pollution, Toms River melds hard-hitting investigative reporting, a fascinating scientific detective story, and an unforgettable cast of characters into a sweeping narrative. One of New Jersey’s seemingly innumerable quiet seaside towns, Toms River became the unlikely setting for a decades-long drama that culminated in 2001 with one of the largest legal settlements in the annals of toxic dumping. A town that would rather have been known for its Little League World Series champions ended up making history for an entirely different reason: a notorious cluster of childhood cancers scientifically linked to local air and water pollution. For years, large chemical companies had been using Toms River as their private dumping ground, burying tens of thousands of leaky drums in open pits and discharging billions of gallons of acid-laced wastewater into the town’s namesake river. In an astonishing feat of investigative reporting, prize-winning journalist Dan Fagin recounts the sixty-year saga of rampant pollution and inadequate oversight that made Toms River a cautionary example for fast-growing industrial towns from South Jersey to south China. He tells the stories of the pioneering scientists and physicians who first identified pollutants as a cause of cancer, and brings to life the everyday heroes in Toms River who struggled for justice: a young boy whose cherubic smile belied the fast-growing tumors that had decimated his body from birth; a nurse who fought to bring the alarming incidence of childhood cancers to the attention of authorities who didn’t want to listen; and a mother whose love for her stricken child transformed her into a tenacious advocate for change. A gripping human drama rooted in a centuries-old scientific quest, Toms River is a tale of dumpers at midnight and deceptions in broad daylight, of corporate avarice and government neglect, and of a few brave individuals who refused to keep silent until the truth was exposed.

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    Toms River

    Read by Dan Woren
    18.5 hrs • 3/19/13 • Unabridged
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  12. 11.3 hrs • 7/15/2012 • Unabridged

    For the first time, HRH The Prince of Wales shares his views on how our most pressing modern challenges—from climate change to poverty—are rooted in mankind’s disharmony with nature, presenting a compelling case that the solution lies in our ability to regain a balance with the world around us With its holistic approach, this provocative and well-reasoned book takes the discussion of sustainability and climate change in a new direction. Prince Charles shows how the solutions to problems like climate change lie not only in technology but in our ability to change the way we view the modern world. For decades, the Prince of Wales has been studying a wide array of disciplines to understand every aspect of man’s impact on the natural world, and in that time he has examined everything from architecture to organic farming to sustainable economics. Now, for the first time, he speaks out about his years of research, presenting a fascinating look at how modern industrialization has led us to a state of disharmony with nature, created climate change, and pushed us to the brink of disaster. From the rice farms of India to the prairies of America’s corn belt, from the temples of Ancient Egypt to the laboratories of industrial designers, Harmony spans the globe to identify the different ways that contemporary life has abandoned the hard-earned practices of our history, a shift that has spurred a host of social problems and accelerated climate change. Drawing on cases from farming, healthcare, transportation, and design, the Prince of Wales also offers solutions for change, creating a new vision for our world—one that incorporates the traditional wisdom of our past with the modern science of our present to avert catastrophe. In the end, Harmony paints a holistic portrait of what we as a species have lost in the modern age, while outlining the steps we can take to regain the harmony of our ancestors.

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    Harmony

    By the Prince of Wales, with Tony Juniper, and Ian Skelly
    Read by the Prince of Wales
    11.3 hrs • 7/15/12 • Unabridged
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  13. 0.2 hrs • 7/15/2012 • Unabridged

    His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales sends an inspiring message about how we can change the course of environmental destruction by living in harmony with nature. In an adaptation of his adult book Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World for young readers, the prince shares how many years of research have led him to a series of holistic solutions for change. He encourages global citizens of all ages to search for a harmonious balance with nature in order to solve the greatest crisis in modern history—the survival of our planet.

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    Harmony, Children’s Edition

    Read by the Prince of Wales
    0.2 hrs • 7/15/12 • Unabridged
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  14. 5.7 hrs • 3/26/2012 • Unabridged

    Hybrid cars, fast trains, compact florescent lightbulbs, solar panels, carbon offsets—everything you’ve been told about being green is wrong. The quest for a breakthrough battery or a hundred-mile-per-gallon car is a dangerous fantasy. We are consumers, and we like to consume greenly and efficiently. But David Owen argues that our best intentions are still at cross-purposes to our true goal: living sustainably while caring for our environment and the future of the planet. Efficiency, once considered the holy grail of our environmental problems, turns out to be part of the problem—we have little trouble turning increases in efficiency into increases in consumption. David Owen’s elegant narrative, filled with fascinating information and anecdotes, takes you through the history of energy and the quest for efficiency. Owen introduces the listener to some of the smartest people working on solving our energy problems. He details the arguments of efficiency’s proponents and its antagonists—and in the process overturns most traditional wisdom about being green. This is a book that will change how you look at the world. Scientific geniuses will not invent our way out of the energy and economic crisis we’re in. We already have the technology and knowledge we need to live sustainably. But will we do it? That is the conundrum.

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    The Conundrum

    5.7 hrs • 3/26/12 • Unabridged
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  15. 11.0 hrs • 12/19/2011 • Unabridged

    From author Paul Gilding comes an unflinching look at the challenges we face as a global climate crisis approaches—and the unique opportunities this crisis presents for moving toward an ethic of sustainability. It’s time to stop just worrying about climate change, says Paul Gilding. We need instead to brace for impact, because global crisis is no longer avoidable. This Great Disruption started in 2008 with spiking food and oil prices and dramatic ecological changes, such as the melting ice caps. It is not simply about fossil fuels and carbon footprints. We have come to the end of economic growth, version 1.0, a world economy based on consumption and waste, where we lived beyond the means of our planet’s ecosystems and sources. The Great Disruption offers a stark and unflinching look at the challenge humanity faces—yet also a deeply optimistic message. The coming decades will see loss, suffering, and conflict as our planetary overdraft is paid; however, they will also bring out the best humanity can offer: compassion, innovation, resilience, and adaptability. Gilding tells us how to fight—and fight in—what he calls the One Degree War to prevent catastrophic warming of the earth, and how to start today. The crisis represents a rare chance to replace our addiction to growth with an ethic of sustainability, and it’s already happening. It’s also an unmatched business opportunity: old industries will collapse while new companies will literally reshape our economy. In the aftermath of the Great Disruption, we will measure “growth” in a new way. It will mean not quantity of stuff but quality and happiness of life. Yes, there is life after shopping.

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    The Great Disruption

    11.0 hrs • 12/19/11 • Unabridged
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  16. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    5.7 hrs • 11/1/2011 • Unabridged

    Trashing the Planet is the one book you need to get a commonsense grasp on the contentious issues of environmentalism, where science and politics overlap and well-meaning idealism turns to counterproductive ecoterrorism. Dixy Lee Ray, a marine biologist and former chair of the Atomic Energy Commission, calls for environmentalists to regain a sense of perspective and not let their ardor carry them into the realm of “noble lies.” Dr. Ray exposes how little the public knows about the environment, how piddling are man’s influences upon it—volcanoes shoot more pollutants into the atmosphere than do all of man’s industrial activities—and how complex are the interactions of natural phenomena. Reminding us that “a well-tended garden is better than a neglected woodlot,” Trashing the Planet is a breath of fresh air in the current debate dominated by rhetorical extremism.

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    Trashing the Planet by Dixy Lee Ray

    Trashing the Planet

    By Dixy Lee Ray, with Lou Guzzo
    5.7 hrs • 11/1/11 • Unabridged
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