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Harvey Blatt

Harvey Blatt is the author of America's Environmental Report Card: Are We Making the Grade? (MIT Press). He taught geology at the University of Houston and the University of Oklahoma for many years and is now Professor of Geology at the Institute of Earth Sciences at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Titles by This Author

Are We Making the Grade?

Americans are concerned about the state of the environment, and yet polls show that many have lost faith in both scientists’ and politicians’ ability to solve environmental problems. In America’s Environmental Report Card, Harvey Blatt sorts through the deluge of conflicting information about the environment and offers an accessible overview of the environmental issues that are most important to Americans today. Blatt has thoroughly updated this second edition, revising and adding new material. He looks at water supplies and new concerns about water purity; the dangers of floods (increased by widespread logging and abetted by glacial melting); infrastructure problems (in a new chapter devoted entirely to this subject); the leaching of garbage buried in landfills; soil, contaminated crops, and organic food; fossil fuels; alternative energy sources (in another new chapter); controversies over nuclear energy; the increasing pace of climate change; and air pollution. Along the way, he outlines ways to deal with these problems--workable and reasonable solutions that map the course to a sustainable future. America can lead the way to a better environment, Blatt argues. We are the richest nation in the world, and we can afford it--in fact, we can’t afford not to.

What You Don't Know About What You Eat

We don't think much about how food gets to our tables, or what had to happen to fill our supermarket's produce section with perfectly round red tomatoes and its meat counter with slabs of beautifully marbled steak. We don't realize that the meat in one fast-food hamburger may come from many different cattle raised in several different countries. In fact, most of us have a fairly abstract understanding of what happens on a farm. In America's Food, Harvey Blatt gives us the specifics. He tells us, for example, that a third of the fruits and vegetables grown are discarded for purely aesthetic reasons; that the artificial fertilizers used to enrich our depleted soil contain poisonous heavy metals; that chickens who stand all day on wire in cages choose feed with pain-killing drugs over feed without them; and that the average American eats his or her body weight in food additives each year.

Blatt also asks us to think about the consequences of eating food so far removed from agriculture; why unhealthy food is cheap; why there is an International Federation of Competitive Eating; what we don't want to know about how animals raised for meat live, die, and are butchered; whether people are even designed to be carnivorous; and why there is hunger when food production has increased so dramatically. America's Food describes the production of all types of food in the United States and the environmental and health problems associated with each.

After taking us on a tour of the American food system—not only the basic food groups but soil, grain farming, organic food, genetically modified food, food processing, and diet—Blatt reminds us that we aren't powerless. Once we know the facts about food in America, we can change things by the choices we make as consumers, as voters, and as ethical human beings.

Are We Making the Grade?

Americans today are increasingly concerned about the state of the environment. Polls show that a remarkable 63 percent would roll back recent tax cuts to finance environmental protection and that fully 95 percent want environmental education included in the public school curriculum. America's Environmental Report Card offers answers to some of our most pressing environmental questions, providing a timely reminder of what we need to accomplish to achieve a sustainable environment. It lays out the scientific facts about water and air pollution, energy, global warming, and the ozone layer in a lively, conversational style, enhanced by illustrations, and charts a course of action for protecting the environment.America's Environmental Report Card focuses on the environmental issues that polls show are most important to Americans today. It looks at water pollution and the safety of the water supply (20 percent of Americans refuse to drink tap water, at least partly because they doubt its safety), the dangers of floods (increased by the clearing of forests for farms and timber), the leaching of garbage buried in landfills, and pesticide runoff in irrigation waters from agriculture. It examines the ways we generate energy and the resulting global warming, air pollution (much of the 2,500 gallons of air we inhale each day contains exhaust fumes, lead, and asbestos), and ozone depletion and its relationship to skin cancer, and offers a detailed account of nuclear energy production and the radioactive waste it generates. Most important, it outlines ways to deal with these problems -- workable and reasonable solutions that individuals, industry, and government can effect without unreasonable hardship, solutions that map the course to a sustainable future.