In this provocative, wide-ranging book, Richard Manning offers a dramatically revisionist view of recent human evolution, beginning with the vast increase in brain size that set us apart from our primate relatives and brought an accompanying increase in our need for nourishment. For 290,000 years, we managed to meet that need as hunter-gatherers, a state in which Manning believes we were at our most human: at our smartest, strongest, most sensually alive. But our reliance on food made a secure supply deeply attractive, and eventually we embarked upon the agricultural experiment that has been the history of our past 10,000 years.

The evolutionary road is littered with failed experiments, however, and Manning suggests that agriculture as we have practiced it runs against both our grain and nature’s. Drawing on the work of anthropologists, biologists, archaeologists, and philosophers, along with his own travels, he argues that not only our ecological ills-overpopulation, erosion, pollution-but our social and emotional malaise are rooted in the devil’s bargain we made in our not-so-distant past. And he offers personal, achievable ways we might re-contour the path we have taken to resurrect what is most sustainable and sustaining in our own nature and the planet’s.

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Changes in the Land describes the changes in New England’s plant and animal communities that occurred with the shift from Indian to European dominance. The book shows that the Indians were active interveners in and shapers of the landscape in which they lived, and that the change from Indian to European property ownership had dramatic effects on the ecology of the region.


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William McDonough’s book, written with his colleague, the German chemist Michael Braungart, is a manifesto calling for the transformation of human industry through ecologically intelligent design. Through historical sketches on the roots of the industrial revolution; commentary on science, nature and society; descriptions of key design principles; and compelling examples of innovative products and business strategies already reshaping the marketplace, McDonough and Braungart make the case that an industrial system that “takes, makes and wastes” can become a creator of goods and services that generate ecological, social and economic value.

In Cradle to Cradle, McDonough and Braungart argue that the conflict between industry and the environment is not an indictment of commerce but an outgrowth of purely opportunistic design. The design of products and manufacturing systems growing out of the Industrial Revolution reflected the spirit of the day-and yielded a host of unintended yet tragic consequences.


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Ecological Design describes how making natural systems the basis for design makes more efficient, less toxic, healthier, and more sustainable buildings, landscapes, cities, and technologies. Initially published in 1996, the book was reissued in 2007.


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Ecological Imperialism argues that the displacement of the native peoples of the temperate zones of the world–North America, Australia, and New Zealand by European peoples was the result of the European plants and animals the invaders brought with them, and not just their superior weapons.


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Anthropologist Jeremy Narby has altered how we understand the shamanic cultures and traditions that have undergone a worldwide revival in recent years. Now, in one of his most extraordinary journeys, Narby travels around the globe-from the Amazon basin to the Far East-to probe what traditional healers and pioneering researchers perceive about the intelligence present in all forms of life.

Intelligence in Nature offers overwhelming illustrative evidence that independent intelligence is not unique to humanity. Indeed, bacteria, plants, animals, and other forms of nonhuman life display an uncanny proclivity for self-deterministic decisions, patterns, and actions. The Japanese possess a word for this universal knowing: chi-sei. For the first time, Narby presents an in-depth anthropological study of this concept in the West. He not only uncovers a mysterious thread of intelligent behavior within the natural world but also probes the question of what humanity can learn from nature’s economy and knowingness in its own search for a saner and more sustainable way of life.

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A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There is a 1949 non-fiction book by American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist Aldo Leopold. Describing the land around the author’s home in Sauk County, Wisconsin, the collection of essays advocate Leopold’s idea of a “land ethic”, or a responsible relationship existing between people and the land they inhabit. Edited and published by his son, Luna, a year after Leopold’s death, the book is considered a landmark in the American conservation movement.

The book has had over two million copies printed and has been translated into nine languages. It has informed and changed the environmental movement and stimulated a widespread interest in ecology as a science.

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Silent Spring took Carson four years to complete. It meticulously described how DDT entered the food chain and accumulated in the fatty tissues of animals, including human beings, and caused cancer and genetic damage. A single application on a crop, she wrote, killed insects for weeks and months, and not only the targeted insects but countless more, and remained toxic in the environment even after it was diluted by rainwater. Carson concluded that DDT and other pesticides had irrevocably harmed birds and animals and had contaminated the entire world food supply. The book’s most haunting and famous chapter, “A Fable for Tomorrow,” depicted a nameless American town where all life — from fish to birds to apple blossoms to human children — had been “silenced” by the insidious effects of DDT.

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The Sea Around Us is based on post World War II geographical and oceanographic evidence of the life and work of the sea. It is a study of the processes that formed the earth, the moon, and the oceans. It won the National Book Award in 1952 and made Carson an international voice for the public understanding of science.

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