Book Reviews

Arctic Sanctuary: Images Of The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Jeff Jones (photography) and Laurie Hoyle (essays)
University of Alaska Press, 2010, 173 pages

IT’S DECEMBER 6, 2010, and as I go over this review, I catch a media report reminding me that on this date in 1960 the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was created. Back then, during the closing weeks of the Eisenhower administration, the Refuge was established by executive order. Over the years, photographers and writers have shared their impressions of the wonders of the refuge. Subhankar Banerjee’s 2003 book, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land piqued interest in and raised awareness of threats to the Refuge from oil and gas drilling.

Now, in time for the Refuge’s 50th anniversary, a new book celebrating the beauty and mystique of this fabled landscape is available to rekindle concern for this magical part of America’s wilderness heritage. Jeff Jones’s 150-plus high definition images coupled with Laurie Hoyle’s essays aptly achieve one of the books primary goals: “to encourage contemplation of the value of wilderness in our modern society.” Photo captions identifying the ecozone depicted in the images greatly enhances the volume as an educational tool. (There are five ecozones in the Refuge: coastal, tundra, mountain, taiga and boreal forest.) Similarly, Hoyle’s essays present ideas and ask questions that enhance the reader’s understanding of the arctic environment and stimulate thinking about the value of wilderness.

Though an important part of the book, the essays are a small fraction of the volume; the book is mostly a book of images. And fantastic images they are. Jones uses the arctic light to produce stunning color that conveys the surreal beauty of the landscape; the panoramas in many of the images create an uncanny sense of the vastness of the place.

Just as Banarjee’s work was a rallying point earlier in this decade for the fight to fend off oil and gas drilling and keep the Refuge wild, Arctic Sanctuary is sure to serve the same function in the continuing battle to preserve the wildness that is the Refuge.

Stan Miller

The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, And The Fight To Save The Earth
Eric Pooley
Hyperion, 2010, 481 pages

THE DEBATE CONCERNING global warming should have been resolved in 2007 when the leading international network of climate scientists stated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that global warming is “unequivocal” and that human activity is very likely causing most of the rise in temperatures since the mid-20th century. Eric Pooley’s book The Climate War offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes view of “the story of a group of people who set out to save the planet—or, more precisely, to preserve the planet’s habitability—through political action, and the story of those who stood against them.”

In addition to exploring some of the major players in climate politics, the book is extremely insightful in explaining some of the significant issues concerning global warming. It makes the argument that fighting climate change requires political action at both the local and the national level. In addition, it offers an excellent explanation of cap and trade, which many people find confusing.

The advantage of a well-designed carbon cap, as opposed to a carbon tax, is that it would guarantee a specific level of carbon emissions reduction. It effectively turns global warming pollution into a commodity with a value. “Over the years, as the cap was lowered and fewer allowances were distributed, the commodity would become scarcer, and the price would go up, giving companies and consumers incentive to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency,” writes Pooley.

I recommend this book. It clearly explains the intense ongoing battle concerning climate legislation and politics, including why the federal government is so reluctant to seriously tackle what is arguably the most important issue of the day. For example, in 2009 the U.S. Senate was intent on passing a climate bill that achieves its goal without increasing gasoline or energy prices. Pooley states, “[I]n other words, the Senate was only in favor of a climate bill that didn’t do anything.”

This book is a heavy, detailed read, but it successfully examines the forces on both sides of a critical issue. The public needs to understand climate politics so that individuals can successfully engage themselves in local and national advocacy.

Peter G. Williams

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