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An Environmental History of Israel
The environmental history of Israel is as intriguing and complex as the nation itself. Situated on a mere 8,630 square miles, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf, varying from desert to forest, Israel’s natural environment presents innumerable challenges to its growing population. The country’s conflicted past and present, diverse religions, and multitude of cultural influences powerfully affect the way Israelis imagine, question, and shape their environment. Zionism, from the late nineteenth onward, has tempered nearly every aspect of human existence. Scarcities of usable land and water coupled with border conflicts and regional hostilities have steeled Israeli’s survival instincts. As this volume demonstrates, these powerful dialectics continue to undergird environmental policy and practice in Israel today. Between Ruin and Restoration assembles leading experts in policy, history, and activism to addresses Israel’s continuing environmental transformation from the biblical era to the present and beyond, with a particular focus on the past one hundred and fifty years. The chapters also reflect passionate public debates over meeting the needs of Israel’s population and preserving its natural resources. The chapters detail the occupations of the Ottoman Empire and British colonialists in eighteenth and nineteenth century Palestine, as well as Fellaheen and pastoralist Bedouin tribes, and how they shaped much of the terrain that greeted early Zionist settlers. Following the rise of the Zionist movement, the rapid influx of immigrants and ensuing population growth put new demands on water supplies, pollution controls, sanitation, animal populations, rangelands and biodiversity, forestry, marine policy, and desertification. Additional chapters view environmental politics nationally and internationally, the environmental impact of Israel’s military, and considerations for present and future sustainability.
Reflections from Colorado
The Barren Promise of Genetic Engineering
In 2001 the Human Genome Project announced that it had successfully mapped the entire genetic content of human DNA. Scientists, politicians, theologians, and pundits speculated about what would follow, conjuring everything from nightmare scenarios of state-controlled eugenics to the hope of engineering disease-resistant newborns. As with debates surrounding stem-cell research, the seemingly endless possibilities of genetic engineering will continue to influence public opinion and policy into the foreseeable future. Beyond Biotechnology: The Barren Promise of Genetic Engineering distinguishes between the hype and reality of this technology and explains the nuanced and delicate relationship between science and nature. Authors Craig Holdrege and Steve Talbott evaluate the current state of genetic science and examine its potential applications, particularly in agriculture and medicine, as well as the possible dangers. The authors show how the popular view of genetics does not include an understanding of the ways in which genes actually work together in organisms. Simplistic and reductionist views of genes lead to unrealistic expectations and, ultimately, disappointment in the results that genetic engineering actually delivers. The authors explore new developments in genetics, from the discovery of “non-Darwinian” adaptative mutations in bacteria to evidence that suggests that organisms are far more than mere collections of genetically driven mechanisms. While examining these issues, the authors also answer vital questions that get to the essence of genetic interaction with human biology: Does DNA “manage” an organism any more than the organism manages its DNA? Should genetically engineered products be labeled as such? Do the methods of the genetic engineer resemble the centuries-old practices of animal husbandry? Written for lay readers, Beyond Biotechnology is an accessible introduction to the complicated issues of genetic engineering and its potential applications. In the unexplored space between nature and laboratory, a new science is waiting to emerge. Technology-based social and environmental solutions will remain tenuous and at risk of reversal as long as our culture is alienated from the plants and animals on which all life depends.
Developing Data-Based Information Policy Strategies
After broadband access, what next? What role do metrics play in understanding “information societies”? And, more importantly, in shaping their policies? Beyond counting people with broadband access, how can economic and social metrics inform broadband policies, help evaluate their outcomes, and create useful models for achieving national goals? Broadly described, this book addresses those questions. Information metrics are important, and often political. For example, what does it mean that one economy is ranked higher than another on a list of some e-measure? Any deeper understanding of a complex, multi-dimensional set of variables based on extensive data is lost in an international game of “we’re better than you are” or asking “how can we catch up?” While there is broad international consensus that policy decisions are improved if they are informed by empirical data, there is no accepted standard as to which data matters. Many possible information indicators have been measured. But standing alone, what do they tell us? Which ones are important? Does their selection predetermine certain outcomes? Can they be transformed into truly useful policy tools? How do we know which data to collect, unless there are identified goals? This book is divided into two parts – the first deals with theoretical aspects of measuring information and the issues that should be taken into consideration when designing broadband-focused information policy; while the second demonstrates how data has been both used and abused for argumentation purposes with regards to choices among different policy paths.
The Branching of a Paradigm
Cladistics, or phylogenetic systematics—an approach to discovering, unraveling, and testing hypotheses of evolutionary history—took hold during a turbulent and acrimonious time in the history of systematics. During this period—the 1960s and 1970s—much of the foundation of modern systematic methodology was established as cladistic approaches became widely accepted. Virtually complete by the end of the 1980s, the wide perception has been that little has changed. This volume vividly illustrates that cladistic methodologies have continued to be developed, improved upon, and effectively used in ever widening analytically imaginative ways.
Fulfilling the Promise
Gaylord Nelson is known and respected throughout the world as a founding father of the modern environmental movement and creator of one of the most successful and influential public awareness campaigns ever undertaken on behalf of global stewardship: Earth Day.
Now in his eighties, Nelson delivers a timely and urgent message with the same eloquence with which he has articulated the nation’s environmental ills through the decades. He details the planet’s most critical concerns—from species and habitat losses to global climate changes and population growth. In outlining his strategy for planetary health, he inspires citizens to reassert the environment as a top priority.
A book for anyone who cares deeply about our environment and wants to know what we can and must do now to save it, Beyond Earth Day is a classic guide by one of the natural world’s great defenders.