A RECENT headline in The Globe and Mail reads, “Canadians won’t quit on the environment.” Indeed, in a February poll conducted by Ipsos Reid, over half of the people surveyed (57 per cent) indicated that Canada should take immediate action on climate change, even if it means larger deficits. Results from across the country were quite uniform with the exception of Alberta, where support for getting a move-on lagged by about 10 per cent.

Perhaps this difference is Alberta’s response to growing criticism of its tar sands. For instance, in a 20-page spread entitled “Scraping Bottom,” the March 2009 issue of National Geographic presented a less than flattering picture of the massive mining effort to its 50-million readers.

Moreover, in advance of President Obama’s Canadian visit, a cross-border group of environmental organizations orchestrated an anti-tar-sands campaign called Obama2Canada. Given that the tar sands and climate change took up a serious portion of the Harper-Obama meeting, it would appear that influential people were listening. Coalition members include the Sierra Clubs of Canada and the US, Greenpeace Canada, ForestEthics, the Council of Canadians, the Pembina Institute and Global Community Monitor.

Alternatives also takes a look at the tar sands in this, our second annual environmental books issue. We showcase the innovative work of Alphabet City and The MIT Press in FUEL, a compact volume that collates writers’ and artists’ visions of what a post-coal, post-oil future will look like. Keeping with our forward-looking theme, we excerpt renowned activist Vandana Shiva’s latest title, Soil Not Oil, in which she passionately dares us to envision a world where people matter more than profits.

Building on our successful inaugural books issue, we feature over 70 titles to help you create your summer reading list. Clayton Ruby is impressed by a pair of environmental law texts. Zoologist David Lavigne finds new and enlightening material in Bottomfeeder, Taras Grescoe’s award-winning travelogue on the ethics of eating seafood. And Kyrke Gaudreau couldn’t wait to crack open The Ecosystem Approach, a volume based on work by the late James Kay.

We offer you a glimpse of 11 new books, Stephen Bocking’s analysis of four exposés that deal with how science is bought, sold and used by government and industry, and Susan Scott’s delicious recipe for why she turns to environmental books. Also, master illustrator Briony Penn muses on how she combines words and drawings to celebrate nature.

Moreover, we have an exciting announcement: Bullfrog reads Alternatives. Yes, it’s true, not only will that iconic green frog soon be gracing our office doors, but in myriad ways Bullfrog Power supporters will receive special access to our smart, candid and passionate environmental journalism. Stay tuned to developments by tuning into www.alternativesjournal.ca or www.bullfrogpower.com.

It’s spring, dammit! So find yourself a warm sunny spot. It’s time to read – really read – not just browse the internet for the latest news. Join Scott who seems to have figured it out. She writes, “…when I want lasting nourishment I turn to books… That’s why I’m staring down the recession by beefing up my booklist.” Enjoy. 

Nicola Ross is the former Editor of Alternatives Journal, and is a member of the editorial board.

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