Reviews

Reviews of books, films, TV shows, and websites.

As Americans flee suburbs, big cities aren’t their only alternative

Suburbia by emilykneeter/Flickr.

Something historic happened in America after the housing crash. For the first time in about a century, cities began growing faster than suburbs. As Leigh Gallagher puts it in The End of the Suburbs, According to census data, population growth in outer suburbs, which had been the engine of residential growth for much of the 2000s, ground to a near halt from 2010 to 2011, increasing by just 0.4 … [Read more...]

Novel targets climate science deniers

Photo: b k/Flickr.

Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway are science historians, and they are hopping mad at folks who deny that humans are the primary cause of climate change. Their outrage inspired them to write The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, which has sold furiously in its first month on the market. It’s a 112-page science fiction rant. The story is a discourse on the Penumbral Age … [Read more...]

Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow and the loving community

Photo: Pen Waggener/Flickr.

What I saw now was the community imperfect and irresolute but held together by the frayed and always fraying, incomplete and yet ever-holding bonds of the various sorts of affection.  There had maybe never been anybody who had not been loved by somebody...It was a community always disappointed in itself, disappointed in its members, always trying to contain its divisions and gentle its meanness, … [Read more...]

‘Snowpiercer’ off the rails

Tilda Swinton is from the government but she's not here to help in Snowpiercer.

In portraying environmental issues, film has proven its unique power to influence public sentiment. A standout example is The China Syndrome, a 1979 anti-nuclear thriller released mere days before the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor plant accident made front-page news. The 2012 feature film The Promised Land brought to audiences images, ideas and emotions about the fracking controversy. So … [Read more...]

In the face of collapse, neither polyanna nor doomer

collapsed pyramid

Carolyn Baker writes with passion, insight and courage about a topic that most people turn away from – the emotional, psychological and spiritual aspect of what she and many others call "collapse." Collapse is the convergence in our times of economic unraveling, resource depletion and human created climate instability that could bring the destruction of the world economy, major governments or … [Read more...]

This old trick used by climate science deniers still works

doubt graffitti

Public relations firms are expensive, but for big corporations doing bad stuff to the public, PR is a good investment. For more than half a century, PR guys have been smart in shielding their corporate clients from harm, earning their fees many times over by helping keep profits high for corporate poisoners and corporate polluters. Take cigarettes, for example. In the 1980s and 1990s, after … [Read more...]

Surviving climate chaos: Shelter in place or flee to safety?

Yellowknife street

As scientists continue to revise their climate predictions for the worse, it's clear that the time has passed for the world to avoid serious consequences from global warming. With superstorms and floods competing with droughts and wildfires to break records somewhere around the world year-round, the weather is already getting pretty weird. So now, the real question is how best to prepare for … [Read more...]

Growing up from the need to always grow

economic growth

In the Western World, growth is our mantra.  Our schools, our religions, our governments, our businesses, all our institutions bombard us with the same message that to be all that we are meant to be means we have to grow. Growth in and of itself can be a good thing, but unfortunately the growth that can be our doom is material growth, which has limits. So instead of thinking for … [Read more...]

‘The Giving Tree’ a heartbreaking classic for kids and adults

Photo: hsld.

Shel Silverstein’s classic The Giving Tree is a  love story between a boy and a tree that turns dysfunctional in the end. Like all the best children's books, The Giving Tree isn't just for kids. And given what industrial society is doing to the Earth, Silverstein's story, which first came out in 1964, is more relevant for adults today than it ever was. When the boy was little he spent his … [Read more...]

The curse of slavery, the curse of oil

Still from "12 Years A Slave"

Against all odds, a film based on a 150-year-old, almost forgotten book has generated international acclaim and is positioned to sweep multiple Oscars categories. The recently-released film 12 Years A Slave is based on the autobiography of the same name by Solomon Northrup, a free black man who lived in New York state with his wife and two children before the Civil War. (Download the text of … [Read more...]