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Environmental Success Stories: Solving Major Ecological Problems and Confronting Climate Change

by Frank Dunnivant Columbia University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 256 pages
AU$66.00 NZ$68.70
Product Status: In Stock Now
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Many books on environmental issues focus on contemporary wasteful practices and portend a gloomy future. This book is different: it delves into the most daunting ecological and environmental challenges humankind has faced and shows how scientists, citizens, and governments addressed them successfully. There is a way forward, and this book shows us how to begin the journey.


Environmental Success Stories shares the unified strategies that have brought about cleaner water and sanitation in the United States and in the global South; significantly reduced human exposure to toxic metals such as lead and mercury; turned society away form endocrine-disrupting pesticides, such as DDT and PCBs, and other chemicals; and reduced the occurrence of acid rain and the use of ozone-depleting chemicals. In addition to presenting the basic science underlying these issues, Environmental Success Stories also names the political actors, regulators, and community leaders who enacted truly effective environmental legislation and engendered innovations in environmental friendly technologies. Each of these advances met with resistance from industrial leaders and government agencies, yet they significantly improved environmental and human health with minimal economic impact. This book shares the stories of the citizens, scientists, and public officials who have addressed the most challenging environmental concern we now face—climate change—and proposes promising scientific and social scientific strategies for grappling with our current ecological crises.


Author's Note
1. Securing Safe, Inexpensive Drinking Water
2. Effective Treatment of Our Wastewaters
3. The Removal of Anthropogenic Lead, and Soon Mercury, from Our Environment
4. Elimination of Chlorinated Hydrocarbons from Our Environment
5. The Safety of Chemicals in Our Food and Water: Risk Assessment
6. Saving Our Atmosphere for Our Children
7. Legislating Industry: The Need and the Success
8. The Rapid Advancement of Technology: Our Best Hope
9. Humans' Greatest Challenge: Climate Change
10. Conclusion and Transition to a Bright Future
Afterword: Imagination, Imagination, Responsibility, and Climate Change, by Kari Marie Norgaard

Dunnivant's book is a tonic for the societal malaise of environmental 'post-truth,' the concept that facts are less important than emotion in the formation of public opinion. Currently, climate change seems positioned to topple into the maelstrom of post-truth, with ample disinformation to speed the drop. Environmental Success Stories effectively argues that our history of environmental problem-solving implies hope for the resolution of global-scale environmental damage. Approachable, optimistic, and science-based, it will appeal to a broad readership.
Frank M. Dunnivant is professor of chemistry at Whitman College. He has worked at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Zürich, the Swiss Federal Institute for Water and Wastewater Pollution, and the Idaho National Laboratory. This book grew out of a mission to teach liberal arts college students real science and instill a message of hope about the environmental challenges they will inherit.