Put down that cellphone—and pick up a book!  October is National Book Month, a time to celebrate the joys of reading and the role that books and other published materials play in our lives.  And books about the environment have been just as important as books in other fields.  Here are a few that are highlighted on this website.

Perhaps the most influential, at least in recent times, has been Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.  Published on September 27, 1962, Silent Spring is credited with spawning the modern environmental movement and has been declared one of the most important books of all time.  In her book, Carson exposed the dangers of widespread spraying of pesticides, linking their inappropriate use to human disease and deaths of wildlife (learn more about the book here).

When it comes to speaking for the environment, no one has done it better than the Lorax.  Dr. Seuss’s classic, The Lorax, was published on August 12, 1971.  Often thought of as an anti-logging book, Seuss always claimed he wasn’t against cutting trees (after all, he said, he made his living selling books made out of trees), but just against greed and overuse.  And that’s the true nature of conservation—wise use based on sustainability (learn more about the book here).

Perhaps the most important environmental book of all time, however, might be Charles Darwin’s 1859 work, On the Origin of Species (published on November 24).  Darwin’s lifelong study of variation in nature demonstrated that living things changed through time, adapting to their environments.  The book was hugely controversial at the time, seen as an affront to biblical teachings about creation.  The Origin of Species established the basis for the science of ecology and our understanding of the nature and importance of biodiversity (learn more about the book here).

Another crucial book of our time was the 1987 volume, Our Common Future.  The book, published on March 20, was the report of what has become known as the Brundtland Commission, the first truly comprehensive study of what is needed to conserve the earth’s environment while supporting the quality of human life.  The study and the book were led by Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Norwegian prime minister.  The book contains the definition of sustainability now used throughout the world, that we should live to meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (learn more about the book here))

To see more of my favorite conservation books, please look at the entry for April 23, which is World Book Day (read about it here).  And you might want to take a look at my recent book—Nature’s Allies, 8 Conservationists Who Changed Our World.  

And a little caveat in closing.  National Book Month was started by the National Book Foundation in 2003, but that group no longer recognizes the celebration.  So, who cares, read a book, many books, anyhow!

This Month in Conservation

April 1
Wangari Maathai, Kenyan Conservationist, Born (1940)
April 2
Maria Sibylla Merian, German Entomologist, Born (1647)
April 3
Jane Goodall, Chimpanzee Researcher, Born (1934)
April 4
“The Good Life” Begins Airing (1975)
April 5
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Created (1933)
April 6
American Museum of Natural History Founded (1869)
April 7
World Health Day
April 8
A Tribute to the Endangered Species Act
April 9
Jim Fowler, “Wild Kingdom” Co-host, Born (1932)
April 10
Arbor Day First Celebrated (1872)
April 11
Ian Redmond, Primatologist, Born (1954)
April 12
Arches National Monument Created (1929)
April 13
First Elephant Arrives in U.S. (1796)
April 14
Black Sunday Dust Storm (1935)
April 15
Nikolaas Tinbergen, Animal Behaviorist, Born (1907)
April 16
Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing Arrive in U.S. (1972)
April 17
Ford Mustang Introduced (1964)
April 18
Natural History Museum, London, Opened (1881)
April 19
E. Lucy Braun, Plant Ecologist, Born (1889)
April 20
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Godmother of Sustainable Development, Born (1939)
April 21
John Muir, Father of American Conservation, Born (1838)
April 22
The First Earth Day (1970)
April 23
World Book Day
April 24
Tomitaro Makino, Father of Japanese Botany, Born (1862)
April 25
Theodore Roosevelt National Park Established (1947)
April 26
John James Audubon Born (1785)
April 27
Soil Conservation Service Created (1935)
April 28
Chernobyl Nuclear Accident Announced (1986)
April 29
Dancing with Nature’s Stars
April 29
Emmeline Moore, Pioneering Fisheries Scientist, Born (1872)
April 30
First State Hunting License Fee Enacted (1864)
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