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The two best coffee table books on sustainability?

Published May 14, 2008

by dbazely

My colleague, Prof. Larry Licht (see p. 9), is retiring, so I was dispatched by the chair of Biology to assist with gift buying. I had suggested that Larry, who is not just a herpetologist (that's a frog and general green-thing expert), but also interested in conservation and various other causes, might appreciate one of the crop of great books that vividly illustrate the link between environment, people and sustainability.

Paul Marmer, who just got back from a year in Mongolia came with me, to pick up a copy of Hungry Planet, by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Alusio (2005). But, we were also very tempted by Earth from Above by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (2001), which I knew about from an outdoor photography exhibit in London, UK. The latter is pricey, at nearly $70, but is unbelievably gorgeous, and if you need some guilt to go with your enjoyment, visit Arthus-Bertrand's website, and read my blog on your March Break Ecological Footprint. Paul and I spent a lot of time debating which one to get since the budget did not stretch to both.

There are lots of text-heavy books on sustainability and the environment. But the fact is that a picture is still worth a thousand words. Both of these books will get MOST people to THINK about their ecological footprint, and that's always the first step. BUT, both books are engaging and not overly preachy. These are not straight environmental, nature books. They are much more than that. Ideally, we shouldn't be giving each other gifts of more stuff at all.

BUT, if you are looking for something for Father's Day, either of these would be well-received by most dads. The slightly less expensive 365 days of Earth from Above and the paperback version of Hungry Planet are in the $30-$40 price range.

Dawn Bazely and Paul Marmer

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