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

June 1
US Announced Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement (2017)
June 2
Edwin Way Teale, Nature Writer, Born (1899)
June 2
Rodne Galicha, Philippine Environmentalist, Born (1979)
June 3
The World’s First Wilderness Area Established (1924)
June 4
Gaylord Nelson, Politician and Conservationist, Born (1916)
June 5
World Environment Day
June 6
Novarupta Volcano Erupted in Alaska (1912)
June 7
Thomas Malthus Published His Famous Essay (1798)
June 8
Bryce Canyon National Park Created (1923)
June 9
Coral Triangle Day
June 10
E. O. Wilson, Father of Biodiversity, Born (1929)
June 11
Jacques Cousteau, Ocean Explorer, Born (1910)
June 12
Frank Chapman, Creator of the Christmas Bird Count, Born (1864)
June 13
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, Born (1944)
June 14
Bramble Cay Melomys Went Extinct (2016)
June 15
Global Wind Day
June 16
Gray Whale Delisted (1994)
June 17
World Day to Combat Desertification
June 18
Alexander Wetmore, Ornithologist and Smithsonian Leader, Born (1866)
June 19
Feast of the Forest, Palawan, Philippines
June 20
Great Barrier Reef Protected (1975)
June 21
World Hydrography Day
June 22
Cuyahoga River Burst into Flames (1969)
June 23
Antarctic Treaty Implemented (1961)
June 24
David McTaggart, Greenpeace Leader, Born (1932)
June 25
David Douglas, Pioneering Botanist, Born (1799)
June 26
United Nations Chartered (1945)
June 27
Tajik National Park Added to World Heritage List (2013)
June 28
Mark Shand, Asian Elephant Conservationist, Born (1951)
June 29
Mesa Verde National Park Created (1906)
June 30
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Created (1940)
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