Bookmarked: Oceans, Hope, and Megacities

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Every day, new books arrive in the offices of Utne Reader. It would be impossible to review all of them, but a shame to leave many hidden on the shelves. In “Bookmarked,” we link to excerpts from some of our favorites, hoping they’ll inspire a trip to your local library or bookstore. Enjoy!

The first time water rushed onto your toes, your feet buried in the sand, you couldn’t imagine the magnitude of the ocean or all that it held. In Callum Roberts’ vibrant book, The Ocean of Life (Viking, 2012), take a fascinating tour of the history of mankind’s relationship to the sea, from the course of currents first discovered by Benjamin Franklin to the effects of shrimp farming in present-day China. In the last 20 years we have transformed the oceans beyond recognition — and not for the better. Find out how current marine aquaculture conditions harm coastal ecosystems and what we can do to prevent further damage. Read Chapter 16, “Farming the Sea.”

The challenges we face can be difficult even to think about. Desertification, mass extinction, peak oil and economic upheaval together create a planetary emergency of overwhelming proportions. Active Hope (New World Library, 2012) by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone shows us how to strengthen our capacity to face this crisis so that we can respond with unexpected resilience and creative power. Read an excerpt defining “active hope,” taken from the introduction.

By 2025, at least 27 cities will have populations greater than 10 million and more than 600 cities will have populations greater than one million. Specific megacities, intimately connected to globalization, pose the most significant security and environmental threat to our existence. Drawing on the authors’ three decades of international fieldwork and seasoned policy analysis, The Real Population Bomb (Potomac Books, 2012) by P.H. Liotta and James F. Miskel discusses the effects these underserved megacities have on foreign, military, environmental and economic policies. Explore the historical dilemmas of megacities and how these problems are shaping the global, economic and environmental landscape of our world. Read Chapter 1, “Introduction: Welcome to the Urban Century.” 

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.