Ecosocialist Bookshelf — February

February 23, 2022
Ecosocialist Bookshelf February

Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus presents reading matter for reds and greens:

A World Without Soil: The Past, Present, and Precarious Future of the Earth Beneath our Feet
by Jo Handelsman
Yale University Press, 2021

In the United States, China and India, vast tracts of farmland will be barren of topsoil within this century. The combination of intensifying erosion and increasing food needs creates a desperate need for solutions.

Noted biologist Jo Handelsman exposes the complex connections among climate change, soil erosion, food and water security and drug discovery, and suggests solutions to the exhaustion of a vital resource.

Insurrection: Scotland’s Famine Winter
by James Hunter
Birlinn, 2019

When Scotland’s 1846 potato crop was wiped out by blight, towns and villages, from Aberdeen to Wick and Thurso, rose up in protest at the cost of food. Thousands of people seized grain, boarded ships, blockaded harbours and faced down the military.

Many protestors received savage sentences, but the uprising won victories — in particular, it forced the government to cut food prices.

Plagues Upon the Earth: Disease and the Course of Human History
by Kyle Harper
Princeton University Press, 2021

Harper’s monumental history of humans and their germs shows why humanity’s disease pool is rooted deep in our evolutionary past and how the story of disease is entangled with the history of slavery, colonialism and capitalism.

Modern humanity’s conquest of infectious diseases has made life as we know it possible, but the very changes that have improved our health are also destabilising the environment and fostering new and deadlier diseases.

Asphalt: A History
by Kenneth O’Reilly
University of Nebraska Press, 2021

Humans have used natural asphalt for thousands of years, but it was first used for roads in the 19th century. The natural product was then replaced by the by-products of oil refining, and today by bitumen from tar sand mining.

Asphalt has shaped our environment in many ways — now it is a major contributor to global heating and environmental destruction.

The Privatization of Everything: How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back
by Donald Cohen & Allen Milaelian
New Press, 2021

Again and again, private interests have stripped public goods of their power to lift people up, diminishing democracy, furthering inequality, and separating us from each other.

Cohen and Milaelian link a broad spectrum of issues and raise important questions about who controls the public things we all rely on. They expose the hidden crisis of privatisation and propose a road map for taking our world back.

[Reprinted from Climate and Capitalism. Inclusion of a book does not imply endorsement.]

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