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The Metamorphosis of Plants, published in 1790, was Goethe’s first major attempt to describe what he called in a letter to a friend “the truth about the how of the organism.” Inspired by the diversity of flora he found on a journey to Italy, Goethe sought a unity of form in diverse structures. He came to see in the leaf the germ of a plant’s metamorphosis--“the true Proteus who can hide or reveal himself in all vegetal forms”--from the root and stem leaves to the calyx and corolla, to pistil and stamens. With this short book--123 numbered paragraphs, in the manner of the great botanist Linnaeus--Goethe aimed to tell the story of botanical forms in process, to present, in effect, a motion picture of the metamorphosis of plants. This MIT Press edition of The Metamorphosis of Plants illustrates Goethe’s text (in an English translation by Douglas Miller) with a series of stunning and starkly beautiful color photographs as well as numerous line drawings. It is the most completely and colorfully illustrated edition of Goethe’s book ever published. It demonstrates vividly Goethe’s ideas of transformation and interdependence, as well as the systematic use of imagination in scientific research---which influenced thinkers ranging from Darwin to Thoreau and has much to teach us today about our relationship with nature.

Alphabet City Magazine 14
Edited by John Knechtel

Water is the chemical matrix required for life, the molecular chain that connects all organisms on the planet. But in the twenty-first century, water may replace oil as the most prized of resources. Just as gas-guzzling SUVs use more than their share of fuel, water-guzzling regions threaten the water supply for the rest of the world. In Water, writers, scientists, architects, and artists consider the many aspects of water, at levels from the microscopic to the global, touching on subjects that range from new water infrastructures to ancient bathing rituals.

Water includes a chemist's accounting of the true cost of water; photographs taken inside a city's secret waterways; an urban planner's description of how Toronto, New York, Hamburg, and Seoul have redesigned and rethought their waterfront areas; a conceptual artist's series of water bottles "branded" with various modern credos; photographs of a water-damaged ledger from the 1905 Yukon gold rush; two architects' rethinking of how to collect, divert, and transport water from water-rich to water-poor regions; a philosopher's invocation of the spiritual lessons of water; and photographs of a disturbingly beautiful flooded landscape.

Alphabet City 14

The History of a Cambridge Landscape

Fresh Pond Reservation, at the northwest edge of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been described as a "landscape loved to death." Certainly it is a landscape that has been changed by its various uses over the years and one to which Cantabridgeans and Bostonians have felt an intense attachment. Henry James returned to it in his sixties, looking for "some echo of the dreams of youth," feeling keenly "the pleasure of memory"; a Harvard student of the 1850s fondly remembered skating parties and the chance of "flirtation with some fair-ankled beauty of breezy Boston"; modern residents argue fiercely over dogs being allowed to run free at the reservation and whether soccer or nature is a more valuable experience for Cambridge schoolchildren. In Fresh Pond, Jill Sinclair tells the story of the pond and its surrounding land through photographs, drawings, maps, plans, and an engaging narrative of the pond's geological, historical, and political ecology.

Fresh Pond has been a Native American hunting and fishing ground; the site of an eighteenth-century hotel offering bowling, food and wine, and impromptu performances by Harvard men; a summer retreat for wealthy Bostonians; a training ground for trench warfare; a location for picnics and festivals for workers and sporting activities for all. The parkland features an Olmsted design, albeit an imperfectly realized one. The pond itself—a natural lake carved out by the retreating Ice Age about 15,000 years ago—was a center of the nineteenth-century ice industry (disparaged by Thoreau, writing about another pond), and still supplies the city of Cambridge with fresh drinking water.

Sinclair's celebration of a local landscape also alerts us to broader issues—shifts in public attitudes toward nature (is it brutal wilderness or in need of protection?) and water (precious commodity or limitless flow?)—that resonate as we remake our relationship to the landscape.

The Wildlife and Landscapes of Costa Rica

The small Central American country of Costa Rica—less than one-eighth the size of California—boasts the highest density of plant and animal species in the world. Its wild and rugged landscapes include dense rainforests where jaguars roam, a volcano that spews rivers of molten lava, and beaches as unspoiled as they were when Christopher Columbus first anchored his ships off the Caribbean coast in 1502. Costa Rica's rich biodiversity is the result of a hugely varied topography that creates a wide range of natural habitats, and of the presence of animals and plants native to both North and South America. In Wild Costa Rica, photographer Adrian Hepworth explores the natural riches of Costa Rica, providing engaging reports from the field and more than 200 stunning color photographs.

We learn about Costa Rica's rainforest, cloudforest, and paramo (high, treeless plain); the abundance of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects these habitats support; and the country's network of protected areas—a system of parks, reserves, and refuges that makes up over twenty percent of Costa Rica's land. These areas—including such flagship wildlife-watching locations as Tortuguero and Corcovado—attract more than a million visitors every year. The money generated by responsible eco-tourism is central to the survival of Costa Rica's wild places.

Hepworth's photographs show us breathtaking vistas introduce us to distinctive native wildlife, including the scarlet macaw, the resplendent quetzal, the three-toed sloth, and spider and howler monkeys. Wild Costa Rica gives us a fascinating picture of the most biologically diverse country in the world.

Renewing an Agriculture of the Middle

Agriculture in the United States today increasingly operates in two separate spheres: large, corporate-connected commodity production and distribution systems and small-scale farms that market directly to consumers. As a result, midsize family-operated farms find it increasingly difficult to find and reach markets for their products. They are too big to use the direct marketing techniques of small farms but too small to take advantage of corporate marketing and distribution systems. This crisis of the midsize farm results in a rural America with weakened municipal tax bases, job loss, and population flight. Food and the Mid-Level Farm discusses strategies for reviving an “agriculture of the middle” and creating a food system that works for midsize farms and ranches. Activists, practitioners, and scholars from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, political science, and economics, consider ways midsize farms can regain vitality by scaling up aspects of small farms’ operations to connect with consumers, organizing together to develop markets for their products, developing food supply chains that preserve farmer identity and are based on fair business agreements, and promoting public policies (at international, federal, state, and community levels) that address agriculture-of-the-middle issues. Food and the Mid-Level Farm makes it clear that the demise of midsize farms and ranches is not a foregone conclusion and that the renewal of an agriculture of the middle will benefit all participants in the food system--from growers to consumers. Thomas A. Lyson was Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Development Sociology at Cornell University until his death in 2006. He was the author of Civic Agriculture: Reconnecting Farm, Food, and Community. G. W. Stevenson is Senior Scientist with the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at the University of Wisconsin– Madison. Rick Welsh is Associate Professor of Sociology at Clarkson University.

Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation

This abundantly illustrated look at orangutan life tells the story of one of the most fascinating members of the great ape family. In Orangutans, conservation biologist Junaidi Payne presents an informative and compelling description of the lives of orangutans, from their habitat and behavior to the complex intricacies of orangutan society, with discussions of such topics as the differences between wild and captive creatures and characteristics of age and sex. He provides information on orangutan conservation and rehabilitation as well, discussing threats to orangutan welfare and strategies for safeguarding orangutans in the future. Extraordinary color photographs by award-winning photographer Cede Prudente reveal little-seen aspects of orangutan life in the rainforest and showcase the breathtaking landscapes of Borneo and Sumatra. Orangutans also includes a map of orangutan distribution and information on where to see orangutans in the wild.

Orangutan tours attract thousands of visitors each year. This stunning book offers a souvenir or a preview. Animal lovers, natural history students, fans of wildlife photography, and those interested in ecology and conservation will also find a place for Orangutans on their bookshelves or coffee tables.

Fair Trade, Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystems in Mexico and Central America

Our morning cups of coffee connect us to a global industry and an export crisis in the tropics that is destroying livelihoods, undermining the cohesion of families and communities, and threatening ecosystems. Confronting the Coffee Crisis explores small-scale farming, the political economy of the global coffee industry, and initiatives that claim to promote more sustainable rural development in coffee-producing communities. Contributors review the historical, political, economic, and agroecological processes within today's coffee industry and analyze the severely depressed export market that faces small-scale growers in Mexico and Central America.

The book presents a series of interdisciplinary, empirically rich case studies showing how small-scale farmers manage ecosystems and organize collectively as they seek useful collaborations with international NGOs and coffee companies to create opportunities for themselves in the coffee market. The findings demonstrate the interconnections among farmer livelihoods, biodiversity, conservation, and changing coffee markets. Additional chapters examine alternative trade practices, certification, and eco-labeling, discussing the politics and market growth of organic, shade-grown, and Fair Trade coffees. Combining interdisciplinary research with case-study analysis at scales ranging from the local to the global, Confronting the Coffee Crisis reveals the promise and the perils of efforts to create a more sustainable coffee industry.

Contributors:
Christopher M. Bacon, David B. Bray, Sasha Courville, Jonathan A. Fox, Stephen R. Gliessman, David Goodman, Carlos Guadarrama-Zugasti, Shayna Harris, Roberta Jaffe, María Elena Martinez-Torres, V. Ernesto Méndez, Ellen Contreras Murphy, Tad Mutersbaugh, Seth Petchers, José Luis Plaza-Sanchez, Laura Trujillo, Silke Mason Westphal.

General Energetics of Complex Systems

Energy in Nature and Society is a systematic and exhaustive analysis of all the major energy sources, storages, flows, and conversions that have shaped the evolution of the biosphere and civilization. Vaclav Smil uses fundamental unifying metrics (most notably for power density and energy intensity) to provide an integrated framework for analyzing all segments of energetics (the study of energy flows and their transformations). The book explores not only planetary energetics (such as solar radiation and geomorphic processes) and bioenergetics (photosynthesis, for example) but also human energetics (such as metabolism and thermoregulation), tracing them from hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies through modern-day industrial civilization. Included are chapters on heterotrophic conversions, traditional agriculture, preindustrial complexification, fossil fuels, fossil-fueled civilization, the energetics of food, and the implications of energetics for the environment. The book concludes with an examination of general patterns, trends, and socioeconomic considerations of energy use today, looking at correlations between energy and value, energy and the economy, energy and quality of life, and energy futures.

Throughout the book, Smil chooses to emphasize the complexities and peculiarities of the real world, and the counterintuitive outcomes of many of its processes, over abstract models. Energy in Nature and Society provides a unique, comprehensive, single-volume analysis and reference source on all important energy matters, from natural to industrial energy flows, from fuels to food, from the Earth's formation to possible energy futures, and can serve as a text for courses in energy studies, global ecology, earth systems science, biology, and chemistry.

Alphabet City Magazine 12
Edited by John Knechtel

Food is essential to our sense of place and our sense of self, but today—as fast food nation meets the slow food movement and eating locally collides with on-demand arugula—our food habits are shifting. Food examines and imagines these changes, with projects by writers and artists that explore the cultural and emotional resonance of food, from the "everyday Dada" of mashed potatoes and Jell-O to the rocket science of food eaten by astronauts in space.

food1.jpgIn Food, an artist photographs everything he ate in 2006 (and some things he didn't eat, including "Food I Left in the Fridge Too Long") and finds the results both "seductive and repulsive"; a writer describes the global agro-assembly line that produces an organic bento box for Japanese commuters containing rice and vegetables from California, pork from Mexico, and salmon from Alaska; a short story writer offers an eight-page graphic novel, Eating in Cafeterias; a landscape architect compares a commercial orange with an organic apple using visualized data; an award-winning New York City food writer tells a postmodern tale about small-town Chinese-American cuisine (featuring chop suey, egg rolls, and flaming lava cocktails); an expert explains the principles of urban food sustainability. Other projects include a map of the free food from fruit trees on public land in a Los Angeles neighborhood, a visionary plan for farms in skyscrapers, and a surprising report on food security. The essays, artwork, and stories in Food offer readers a full menu of intellectual nourishment and aesthetic delight.

Conservation and Conflict Resolution
Edited by Saleem H. Ali

Although the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a Kenyan environmentalist, few have considered whether environmental conservation can contribute to peace-building in conflict zones. Peace Parks explores this question, examining the ways in which environmental cooperation in multijurisdictional conservation areas may help resolve political and territorial conflicts. Its analyses and case studies of transboundary peace parks focus on how the sharing of physical space and management responsibilities can build and sustain peace among countries. The book examines the roles played by governments, the military, civil society, scientists, and conservationists, and their effects on both the ecological management and the potential for peace-building in these areas. Following a historical and theoretical overview that explores economic, political, and social theories that support the concept of peace parks and discussion of bioregional management for science and economic development, the book presents case studies of existing parks and proposals for future parks. After describing such real-life examples as the Selous-Niassa Wildlife Corridor in Africa and the Emerald Triangle conservation zone in Indochina, the book looks to the future, exploring the peace-building potential of envisioned parks in security-intensive spots including the U.S.-Mexican border, the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, and the Mesopotamian marshlands between Iraq and Iran. With contributors from a variety of disciplines and diverse geographic regions, Peace Parks is not only a groundbreaking book in International Relations but a valuable resource for policy makers and environmentalists.Saleem H. Ali is Associate Professor of Environmental Planning at the Rubenstein School of Natural Resources at the University of Vermont and holds adjunct faculty appointments at Brown University and the United Nations mandated University for Peace. He is the author of Mining: The Environment and Indigenous Development Conflicts.ContributorsDramé-Yayé Aissetou, Saleem H. Ali, Rolf D. Baldus, Charles Besançon, Kent Biringer, Arthur G. Blundell, Niger Diallo Daouda Boubacar, K. C. (Nanda) Cariappa, Charles Chester, Tyler Christie, Sarah Dickinson DeLeon, Bill Dolan, Rosaleen Duffy, Christina Ellis, Wayne Freimund, Stephan Fuller, Rudolf Hahn, Anne Hammill, Bruce Hayden, Ke Chung Kim, Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, Jason Lambacher, Raul Lejano, Maano Ramutsindela, Michael Schoon, Belinda Sifford, Anna Spenceley, Michelle L. Stevens, Randy Tanner, Yongyut Trisurat, Michele Zebich-Knos

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