University Press Week Blog Tour: How to be an environmental steward

It’s University Press Week and the Blog Tour is back! This year’s theme is Read. Think. Act. Today’s theme is: How to be an environmental steward.

banner.upw2019.jpg

University of Pittsburgh Press @UPittPress

Patricia Demarco, author of Pathways to Our Sustainable Future, will write about global and local sustainability.

Duke University Press @DukePress

A roundtable of authors and editors answering the question, “What is one thing that more people need to understand about the current global climate crisis?”

Columbia University Press @Columbia.edu

Guest post from the author of Live Sustainably Now, about tips to decreasing your carbon footprint.

University of California Press  @ucpress

An excerpt from Humboldt State University Assoc. Professor of Environmental Studies Sarah Jaquette Ray’s A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet, coming April 2020.

Yale University Press @yalepress

A post from authors connected with A Better Planet with actionable steps on helping the environment.

University of South Carolina Press @uscpress

A post including photos from authors of Carolina Bays about preservation of these unique ecological systems.

Bucknell University Press @BucknellUPress

Guest post by Tim Wenzell, editor of Woven Shades of Green: An Anthology of Irish Nature Writing on why ecocriticism makes us better stewards of nature.

Oregon State University Press 

Guest blogger Marcy Cottrell Houle on the genesis of her new book, A Generous Nature: Lives Transformed by Oregon, about 20 conservationists and activists who have been instrumental in preserving Oregon’s natural treasures for future generations.

University Press of Mississippi  @upmiss

Jessica H. Schexnayder, author of Fragile Grounds: Louisiana’s Endangered Cemeteries, on documenting the dying histories of coastal communities.

Harvard University Press @harvard_Press

 

Changing Climate, Changing Communities

This week in North Philly Notes, Braden Leap, author of Gone Goose, writes about how the population of Sumner, MO, the Wild Goose Capital of the World, responded to climate change and the lack of geese.

Communities being disrupted by disasters related to climate change have become a semi-regular fixture on the nightly news. One night, a reporter walks through the scorched remains of a neighborhood following a deadly forest fire. The next, they’re boating down the flooded main street of a small town following another major hurricane. But how do communities respond to climate related disruptions that range from catastrophic fires and floods, to warmer winters, to the shifting geographic ranges of an array of plants and animals? This is an especially urgent question because climate related transformations are taking place across the U.S. and around the world, and they aren’t likely to stop any time soon.

Climate catastrophe gets a lot of attention, and rightly so, but if we hope to sustain communities as they are disrupted by climate change, we need to know far more about how people work together—or why they don’t—to effectively respond when their lives are disrupted by shifting climatological conditions. Accordingly, in my recently published book, Gone Goose: The Remaking of an American Town in the Age of Climate Change, I consider how members of a rural Missouri town were reconfiguring their community in response to climate change. Although Sumner, Missouri claims the title of Wild Goose Capital of the World, the nearly 200,000 Canada geese that used to migrate there no longer come to Sumner because of a combination of land use changes and shifting climatological conditions. For a town whose culture and economy were intimately tied to geese and goose hunting, this has been a dramatic transformation.

gone goose_smWhile we often hear stories of small Midwestern towns fading away, that’s not exactly what was happening in Sumner. The population may have been dwindling, but after talking and working with residents for nearly two years, I found that community members were effectively rearranging the social and ecological complexities comprising their town to respond to the lack of geese. Men were dramatically transforming the landscape to make it more amenable to duck hunting. Women reorganized the town’s annual festival to cater to families instead of goose hunters. Both were working with staff at the National Wildlife Refuge adjacent to the community to make it suitable for public uses other than goose hunting. In all three instances, they were strategically leveraging the social and ecological complexities of Sumner to rearrange and sustain their ties to the people and places they valued.

Although Sumner is undoubtedly unique, I argue it provides some important lessons for other communities disrupted by climate change. Most notably, it is sometimes possible for communities to be sustained and even improved. For this to happen, people must effectively utilize and rearrange the social and ecological beings and things comprising their communities. This is a somewhat hopeful lesson, but one that must be tempered by the realities of communities and climate change. Not all places will have the social and ecological inputs to adapt. The effects of climate change can also be so catastrophic that it can be impossible to adjust. Communities being inundated with saltwater because of rising sea levels provide a clear example. The environments in which our communities are entangled will continue to present both opportunities and challenges over the coming decades and centuries, but it seems clear that in some cases there can be more to climate change than catastrophe.

 

%d bloggers like this: