From the Stacks: October 5, 2007

By Staff and Utne.Com

Utne Reader‘s library is abuzz with a steady flow of 1,500 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, zines, and other lively dispatches from the cultural front that are rarely found at big-box bookstores, newsstands, or even online. So we share the highlights (and occasional lowlights) of what’s landing in our library each week in “From the Stacks.” Check in every Friday for the latest edition.

Miracle cures for chronic diseases, Loch Ness monsters, gryphons, and unicorns are among the subjects of ire and examination for the staff of Skeptical Inquirer. The credulous snarks who contribute to the bimonthly satisfy their taste for the obscure by leveling a steely, critical eye on a landscape filled with gullible rubes. The irrational beliefs they address aren’t just fodder for mockery, though; they can be downright dangerous, as is the case when hucksters claim that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS (South African president Thabo Mbeki is included in their ranks). Skeptical Inquirer cuts down that proposition in its September/October issue with characteristic panache. — Brendan Mackie

PERC Reports, the publication of the nonprofit Property and Environment Research Center, offers optimism and encouragement to climate change doomsayers. PERC advocates free market solutions for environmental problems, finding solutions where others find only frustration. The current issue (Fall) uncovers a reason for faith in capitalism, the system that PERC fellow Brian Yablonski argues has fostered the reemergence of the American bison through ranching and  revenue-generating “trophy hunts.” Also in the issue, author Mitch Tobin lauds the federal government’s proposed $400 million tax break program for landowners who help protect threatened species on their property. In Tobin’s estimation, the bill could help bring landowners and public interest together. — Eric Kelsey

In Derrick Jensen’s latest book, Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos, the distinguished environmental author inveighs against zoos. These symbols of humanity’s false sense of superiority over nature, Jensen argues, imprison more than they educate or protect. The accompanying photos by Karen Tweedy-Holmes provide a heartbreaking look into the reality faced by animals in many zoos, where Japanese macaques languish in boredom, African elephants pace listlessly, and a Mandrill gnaws at the thick wires of his cage. The photos do not specify the locations of the zoos, resulting in a wholesale condemnation of these false and confined “habitats.” — Eric Kelsey

The West Coast-based monthly Sustainable Industries covers the latest in clean energy and technology, innovative engineers, and sustainable solutions to environmental problems. In the October issue, Brian Libby shows that new developments are helping to green even the temple of American excess known as the sports stadium. The environmental impact of these arenas can be alarming, and making such huge facilities live up to LEED certification standards — which were developed with smaller structures in mind — can be difficult. Sustainable Industries finds promise, though, in the prospective home of the Washington Nationals, which is set to include an impressive 6,300-square-foot green roof, water-waste-reduction plans, and limited parking to foster mass transit use. — Julie Dolan

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