Is this unusually hot summer bothering you? Do you miss the spring that almost isn’t a season anymore? What about the flash floods and stretched out droughts, the new strains of disease and destruction that they bring about? Yes? Read on.
While a chain of volcanic eruptions overtakes the Pacific, and the floor is literally ‘lava’, certain global leaders, despite overwhelming evidence, still believe that Climate Change does not exist. Since sometimes, ignorance is not bliss, this environment day, Sharmistha More presents to you a list of books for readers of all genres, to help YOU be environmentally ‘woke’.
- Islands in Flux by Pankaj Sekhsaria
Pankaj Sekhsaria is the most consistent chronicler of contemporary issues in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and one of the best known. His writings on the environment, wildlife conservation, development and indigenous communities have provided insights and perspective on the life of the islands for over two decades. Islands in Flux is a compilation of Sekhsaria’s writings on key issues in the Islands over this period and provides an important, consolidated account that is relevant both for the present and the future of this beautiful but also very fragile and volatile island chain. The book is both a map of the region as well as a framework for the way forward, and essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of our world.
2. The Himalayan Arc edited by Namita Gokhale
The Himalayan Arc focuses on a crucial, enthralling, politically turbulent, yet often underreported part of this Himalayan belt – the ‘East of South-east’. With over thirty contributors, it attempts to describe the sense of shared lives and cultural connectivity between the denizens of this area. Poetry, fiction, and mysticism are juxtaposed with essays on strategy and diplomacy, espionage and the deep state, photographs, folk tales, and fables. From the unique identity of a Himalayan citizen to the ‘geopolitical jigsaw’ that is the region; from the hidden spy network in Kathmandu to intimate portraits of Shillong, Gangtok, Darjeeling, and other cities; from the insurgency in Assam to a portrait of Myanmar under military rule, the essays, stories, and poems in this anthology highlight the similarities within the differences of the Himalayan belt. Providing insider and outsider perspectives on this intriguing part of the world, The Himalayan Arc is a travel book with a difference.
3. From Soup to Superstar by Kartik Shanker
From Soup to Superstar provides the first comprehensive account of marine conservation in India, focusing on sea turtles, which are at once a fishery resource, a religious symbol and a conservation icon. Worshipped as Kurma, the incarnation of Vishnu, these creatures have been part of folklore and mythology for over 2,000 years. Until the 1970s, there were large- and small-scale turtle fisheries in Odisha and the Gulf of Mannar, while eggs and meat were consumed along the rest of the coast. Since then, naturalists, scientists, activists and concerned citizens have led several conservation programmes in these regions. Globally, attention has centred on the mass-nesting beaches in Odisha, where over 1,00,000 turtles may nest simultaneously. New threats have emerged and elicited responses at local, national and international levels. This is a definitive chronicle of the efforts that have been made to protect these mysterious creatures in the last fifty years.
4. The Wildest Sport of All by Prakash Singh
Before tiger hunting was officially banned in the 1970s, the great jungles of India swarmed with ‘shikaris’ indulging in what was once considered a popular ‘sport’. The Wildest Sport of All offers a first-hand account of the sport of tiger hunting in India. Narrated in the voice of an expert shikari, it takes the reader on an adventurous journey through the forests of the Kumaon and Garhwal mountains in north India. Featuring stories of narrow escapes, unsolved mysteries, patient wait for the sighting of tigers, and clever ways of conquering the regal beast, The Wildest Sport of All sets out not to glorify hunting but to recreate a time of lawful, discriminatory shikar that brought the shikari close to nature.
5. Chesapeake Requiem by Earl Swift
A brilliant, soulful, and timely portrait of a two-hundred-year-old crabbing community in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay as it faces extinction from rising sea levels. The very water that has long sustained it, is now erasing the island day by day, wave by wave. It has lost two-thirds of its land since 1850, and still its shoreline retreats by fifteen feet a year—meaning this storied place will likely succumb first among U.S. towns to the effects of climate change. Experts reckon that, barring heroic intervention by the federal government, islanders could be forced to abandon their home within twenty-five years. Meanwhile, the graves of their forebears are being sprung open by encroaching tides, and the conservative and deeply religious Tangiermen ponder the end times. Chesapeake Requiem is an intimate look at the island’s past, present and tenuous future, by an acclaimed journalist who spent much of the past two years living among Tangier’s people, crabbing and oystering with its watermen, and observing its long traditions and odd ways
6. The Last Wave by Pankaj Sekhsaria
Ever the aimless drifter, Harish finds the anchor his life needs in a chance encounter with members of the ancient – and threatened – Jarawa community: the ‘original people’ of the Andaman Islands and its tropical rainforests. As he observes the slow but sure destruction of everything the Jarawa need for their survival, Harish is moved by a need to understand, to do something. His unlikely friend and partner on this quest is Uncle Pame, a seventy-year-old Karen boatman whose father was brought to the islands from Burma by the British in the 1920s. As many things seem to fall in place and parallel journeys converge, an unknown contender appears: the giant tsunami of December 2004. The Last Wave is a story of lost loves, but also of a culture, a community. An ecology poised on the sharp edge of time and history.
6. Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller
After the climate wars, a floating city is constructed in the Arctic Circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living, however, the city is starting to fray along the edges—crime and corruption have set in, the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside direst poverty are spawning unrest, and a new disease called “the breaks” is ravaging the population. When a strange new visitor arrives—a woman riding an orca, with a polar bear at her side—the city is entranced. The “orcamancer,” as she’s known, very subtly brings together four people—each living on the periphery—to stage unprecedented acts of resistance. By banding together to save their city before it crumbles under the weight of its own decay, they will learn shocking truths about themselves. Blackfish City is a remarkably urgent—and ultimately very hopeful—novel about political corruption, organized crime, technology run amok, the consequences of climate change, gender identity, and the unifying power of human connection.
7. Green Wars by Bahar Dutt
What is more important, building a modern airport in rural Uttar Pradesh or conserving the shrinking habitat of the sarus cranes? Producing more palm oil or protecting the orangutan? A modernizing economy brings in its wake ecological challenges and misplaced priorities. Development, environment, conservation, global warming – what do they mean in real terms, on the ground, to the people there? Must development always be in conflict with environment? Combining rigorous research with the experienced traveller’s eye for piquant stories, conservationist and environment journalist Bahar Dutt chases some of the biggest stories of our times. From Arunachal Pradesh to the Arctic, from Goa to Gangotri, from illegal mining to climate change, Green Wars journeys to some of the richest wilderness areas, and explores the tension between a developing economy and saving the planet.
8. Plundering Paradise by Michael D’Orso
Mention the Galápagos Islands to almost anyone, and the first things that spring to mind are iguanas, tortoises, volcanic beaches, and, of course, Charles Darwin. But there are people living there, too — nearly 20,000 of them. A wild stew of nomads and grifters, dreamers and hermits, wealthy tour operators and desperately poor South American refugees, these inhabitants have brought crime, crowding, poaching, and pollution to the once-idyllic islands. In Plundering Paradise, Michael D’Orso explores the conflicts on land and at sea that now threaten to destroy this fabled “Eden of Evolution.”