During recent years I have read a wide variety of books on varied subjects from air pollution, environment (climate change) to chemicals (food, agriculture, etc) and how these all affect the health of our families. The following titles may not be the latest books but for background and history they are irreplaceable. Many of you will have already read some or all of these recommendations. Here are five books, on diverse issues from global warming to toxins in our food and all things related and in between. This is what Caramel and Parsley is all about – a blog with first hand information on a simpler lifestyle, food selection and toxins to avoid, organic gardening, farmers markets, and being kind to our environment.
“The Amazon is a canary in a coal mine for the Earth” ~ Dan Nepstad
Book #1 – Biodiversity
A Beginners Guide by John Spicer, Oneworld Publishing, Oxford, 2006
This was great to read a book (science for everybody) which I could understand with recent scientific information on all things pertaining to our natural world. This includes the Top Ten sustainable development success stories and the Top Ten Failures. It is easy to read for a background of the current crisis facing the world all things environmental / biodiversity in simple, understanding language .
“Ecosystem definition is a dynamic complex of plant, animal and microbial communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functioning unit.”
~ Dr John Spicer (Pg 4 Biodiversity)
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
This is the iconic book which started it all in the 1960’s. Rachel Carson (who died from breast cancer) had the ability to write the future from the aspect of chemical poisoning of our lives and environment, locally and globally. Great changes followed the release of her book including the banning of DDT.
The balance of nature is not a status quo; it is fluid, ever shifting, in a constant state of adjustment. Man, too, is part of this balance.
“Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species — man — acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world. ”― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
When Smoke Ran Like Rain by Dr. Devra Davis
Author Dr. Devra Davis has “tackled publicly sensitive topics from tobacco, to asbestos to overuse of diagnostic radiation” in her career. In this book she covers environmental pollution from the past (The Great London Fog 1952 with an estimated death toll of 12,000 people attributed, erroneously to flu) and into the future. An illuminating and weighty read – on weather inversion, air pollution and both scientific and personal aspects of her life including the personal history of the 1948 Danora (where she was born) Smog from its zinc mill where a member of her family died. Revealing and thought provoking; an excellent background on the battle against pollution.
” ‘Environmental contamination’ is never listed as the cause of death on anyone’s death certificate”
Quote from “When Smoke Ran Like Water” Preface ( (page xviii)
The CSIRO Climate Change Book (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization”
This Australian book is extremely practical and informative with real life solutions to help solve the climate change problem – from home to work to school. Many of the “what we can do” suggestions can be applied to our everyday lives anywhere. This was an extremely easy to read book covering a range of climate change topics from reducing emissions, saving energy and conflicts caused by climate.
If you’re keen to spread the message about the importance and urgency of climate change: ensure credibility of your messages by drawing on evidence from peer-reviewed science, not just an opinion and lead by example: change people’s attitudes and you can change their behaviour”
Climate Change: by Holper and Torok (Page 167)
Above Photo: Bureau of Meteorology
In Defence of Food, 2008 – Michael Pollan
I have read several of Michael Pollan’s books including The Omnivore’s Dilemna (2006), Food Rules (2009) and of course In Defence of Food. This is another easy to understand read by this popular author whose books are always enjoyable with an incredible amount of information for a comprehensive understanding of what is happening in the food industry today. Read one ~ read them all if you are at all confused about “The Western Diet” and “industrialization of our food”.
These are chapter titles from his book “Food Rules”:
- Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
- Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients
- Eat only foods that will eventually rot.
- If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
- Eat your colors.
- Drink the spinach water (yes, my mum taught me this one!)
- Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.
- Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
- Plant a vegetable garden if you have the space, a window box if you don’t.
In this short list of books all have a sobering, often thought provoking tone, and if you are curious on what is happening in our world today from an environmental, health and sometimes historical point of view these will give you a background and comprehensive understanding. On a positive note there are many valuable suggestions in the books on what we and our families can do to make a positive change.
“Learning never exhausts the mind.”
― Leonardo da Vinci
Two films which have had a huge impact on my life since 2008 are :
- “Climate Change” by P. Holper & S. Torok, CSIRO Publishing, 2008
- “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan, Penguin Press, 2008
- “Biodiversity” by Dr John Spicer, Oneworld Books, 2006
- “When Smoke Ran Like Water” by Dr Devra Davis, Basic Books, 2002
- “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson, Houghton Mifflin, 1962
“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”
“Biodiversity is the variety in life in all its different forms and relationships”
John Spicer (Biodiversity Page 2)
Links & References
- Ecosystem definition
- London fog deaths – 1952
- Danora Smog 1948 with 20 to 50 people died and thousands became ill as a result of smog from the local Zinc Works during an inversion
- Recognizing and Managing the Tropical Agricultural Revolution in Latin America and the Caribbean by Daniel Nepstad
- Latrobe Valley (Victoria, Australia) coal production history
- CSIRO Climate Change – Visit to Australia – Bats are affected by climate change and high temperatures
- Temperature and Rainfall extremes Australia from the Bureau of Meteorology
** Special thanks to my talented guest photographer ~ who has been there