Books of Note

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Adapting to a Changing Environment: Confronting the Consequences of Climate Change

by Tim R. McClanahan and Joshua Cinner (Oxford: Oxford University Press , 2012)

The impacts of climate change on land and sea will deepen in the years to come. And according to Dr. Tim McClanahan, a coral reef fisheries expert at WCS, and Dr. Joshua Cinner, a human geographer at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, these effects will fall hardest on poor communities that are highly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. But the authors offer hope, outlining a toolbox of adaptation options that will help these societies confront the challenges head-on.

McClanahan and Cinner combine their fields of expertise to provide a holistic overview on how climate change will affect coastal ecosystems and communities, using the coral reef fisheries of the western Indian Ocean as an example. In-depth research with local fishermen reveals how, if unassisted, they may inadvertently respond to climate change in ways that actually make things worse for themselves and the reefs. The book’s framework for climate action is transferable to other environments, too, highlighting the complex but critical need to maintain resources at levels that will avoid both ecological and social catastrophes. Learn more here.

Birds of Brazil: The Pantanal & Cerrado of Central Brazil

by John A. Gwynne, Robert S. Ridgely, Guy Tudor, and Martha Argel (Ithaca: Cornell University Press , 2010)

Published in Portuguese and English, Birds of Brazil: The Pantanal & Cerrado of Central Brazil highlights the bird life of one of the greatest wild places on Earth. More importantly, the guide strives to inspire a nation of potential conservationists to enjoy and safeguard Brazil’s vibrant ecosystems and natural heritage. This is the first in a series of five regional field guides (to include more than 1,830 known species in Brazil) that will promote conservation through the hobby of birding.

This landmark guide is specifically targeted toward Brazilians, and its low cost (the Portuguese version is available for just 44 Brazilian Reais or $26), facilitates a conservation strategy to make the guide widely available. In addition, it will be supplemented by an extensive educational website in Portuguese that will contain tips on how to become a birder, with basic information on how to use binoculars, identify species from key field marks, and find and explore the rich diversity of habitats throughout the country.

Learn more about the guide >>

The Way of the Panda: The Curious History of China’s Political Animal

by Henry Nicholls (New York: Pegasus Books , 2011)

The giant panda was not known outside of China until 1869. It has since become probably the most recognized species worldwide and, when exhibited in zoos, the most popular. After its “discovery” by the Western world, there was a rush first to shoot specimens for museums and then to collect them for exhibition. It wasn’t until after World War II that China, the only country home to wild giant pandas, entered the story as an active player. Since then Chinese politics have been intertwined with giant pandas. Only after 1972 did the world pay serious attention to the biology and conservation of these extraordinary animals. This short, enjoyably written book details their story and leaves the reader wondering what it is exactly about pandas that make them so engaging to people around the world.

The Ragged Edge of the World: Encounters at the Frontier Where Modernity, Wildlands, and Indigenous Peoples Meet

by Eugene Linden (New York: Viking , 2011)

Cast upon the drift line of modernity are both the natural world and indigenous peoples. Where you find one you often find the other—and you will also probably find Eugene Linden. For over 40 years Linden has been reporting from a range of areas, from the Congo to Papua New Guinea. In this volume he shares personal stories about his reporting life, the people he has met during his travels, and the state of the natural world at its most “ragged edge.”

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