Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Good Read on a Vital Topic

The latest from my Good Reads account includes a link back to several posts on this blog.

The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural WorldThe View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World by Carl Safina
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I learned of this book when my librarian spouse was engaged in a year-long project of reading "year of" books -- an entire genre of books whose authors dedicated a year to a particular topic or practice. This meta project involved reading two such books each month, and we shared a few of them. Since I am an environmental geographer, she read this one to me.

Around the same time, I was realizing that the textbook in my introductory environmental geography class was becoming a bit out-of-date, and in particular that it was not adequately addressing climate change. I decided to try assigning this book as the main text in that survey course, and I am very glad I did. It is the only book that large numbers of students THANK me for assigning.

This is all the more impressive because students really do struggle with this book. It is a beautifully written account of some very unpleasant -- one could say inconvenient -- truths about a rapidly changing world. Some students are offended that Safina does not do more to soften the blow, but most eventually come to appreciate his approach.

Like Rachel Carson before him, Safina is both a talented writer and a consummate scientist. He also reveals a deep love for his chosen home on Long Island sound and the many other places around the world that his work has taken him.

I should emphasize that although I use this as a textbook, it is not written that way. In the process of telling his stories and making his case, this biologist happens to cover many of the topics I feel I need to include in my geography course. He does it so beautifully that I am happy to provide a few supplements to cover those areas, so that my students and I can immerse ourselves in this important and beautiful work.

My environmental geography blog includes a number of items about Safina and this book: http://environmentalgeography.blogspo...

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