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Book Roundup Wednesday: Urban Nature

Posted Sep 15 2010 11:23am

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week, we're recommending books about nature's vital role in cities.

Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability (by David Owen, $19, Riverhead Hardcover, Sept. 2009) While many people think of cities as combative to the environment, Owen proves that North America's most densely populated place – Manhattan – is actually one of America's greenest places.

One City's Wilderness: Portland's Forest Park (by Marcy Cottrell Houle, $14, Oregon State University Press, Oct. 2010) This loving account explores one of the largest urban parks in the world, providing directions to hikes, colored maps, and photos of native plants and birds. Reading the history of Forest Park and the people who fought to preserve it, should inspire city-dwellers to explore the wilderness without ever leaving town.

Seattle and the Roots of Urban Sustainability: Inventing Ecotopia (by Jefferey Craig Sanders, $24, University of Pittsburg Press, Aug. 2010) Sanders tells how Seattle gave birth to environmental activism, and how and when sustainability practices emerged. Reading this city's example of eco-concern may very well encourages readers to care for cities in the same way that we care for the wilderness.

Cities and Nature in the American West (by Char Miller, $32, University of Nevada Press, Sept. 2010) This collection of essays by prominent environmental historians explores the thin line between the natural world and urban areas in a region that has, in less than a century, been transformed from rural to densely populated. Readers gain insight regarding how urban development relates to our perceptions of nature. 

Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops, Restored Wildlands, and Geoengineering are Necessary (by Stewart Brand, $11, Penguin, Sept. 2010) The author explores an array of issues that include how our cities are helping to steer the planet toward a greener future.

--Molly Oleson

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