Library - Environmental Health

Overview. This program area refers to the ability of our environment to sustain life, and to threats to that ability. All living beings either directly or indirectly need clean water and air, and uncontaminated soils. Any human activity that directly and immediately threatens that sustenance violated several of the Buddha’s precepts for living in harmony.

Extreme forms of pollution kill living beings rather than honoring life. To replace clean water and air with polluted water and air is to take what is not given. To work for firms that despoil our environment—or to allow one’s wealth to work for such firms—is to personally gain from suffering inflicted on others, which contravenes the Buddha’s teachings on right livelihood and way of life.

Welfare of All Beings. Further, it is not only the well-being of human populations that is at stake. We are now witnessing a rate of plant and animal extinctions occasioned by human behavior that now exceeds any in the known history of our planet. We are now learning that, in warming the planet, our own behavior poses the greatest threat to our own future survival as a species. But the same has never been more true of our threat to most other life forms. Since we hold the power of life and death over much of the living World, it has never been more important for us to do whatever we can to minimize harm to living beings.

So the Environmental Health entries in the Library and Group listings all address this particular set of challenges, in terms of the science of how the environment is despoiled and how to un-spoil it, the law and politics of doing so, and reliable information sources one can turn to for news of current events in this area–all in service of acting to enhance the Earth’s life-sustaining capability.





Abram,David.Becoming Animal:An Earthly Cosmology.Pantheon, 2010.

By the acclaimed author of “The Spell of the Sensuous”(’96), “Becoming Animal” inspires the reader to reconnect with our physical kinship with Earth as humans with animal bodies, and to rediscover a profound empathic sense of who and what we all are all together and individually as beings that share this planet.


Bardi, Ugo. Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet. Chelsea Green, 2014.

Bardi shows how exhausting all the ‘low hanging fruit’ not only in regards to oil/gas extraction but also in mineral extraction is bringing our globalized civilization to the verge of collapse… A clarion call to deeply consider and avert the toll that mineral extraction and processing takes on Earth’s ecosystems’ health and viability. 


Birnbaum, Juliana & Fox, Louis.  Sustainable (R)evolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms & Communities Worldwide. North Atlantic Books, 2014.

The authors profile dozens of diverse intentional communities located on every continent of the globe that are committed to sustainability.  These inspiring pioneers can motivate even first world urbanites to ‘think outside the box’ and make lifestyle changes in keeping with the permaculture principles of ‘Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share’.


Keehn, Dorka. Eco-Amazons: 20 Women Who are Transforming the World. PowerHouse Books, 2011.

Profiles 20 women in the US who are working to protect our world’s ecosystems in a variety of ways and settings; includes two Colorado women (L. Hunter Lovins &Theo Colborn) and contains inspiring, unique stories of how each became effective advocates for healthier stewardship of our planet… fwd by Julia Butterfly Hill.


Nabhan, Gary Paul. Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land. Chelsea Green, 2013.

Nabhan’s hands-on guide for people living in drier climates is a rich compendium of ideas on how to bolster food security, reduce erosion, increase moisture-holding capacity and cope with the new vagaries of climate in ways that help reduce heat stress and adapt resilient farming practices to our own backyards.


Prud’homme, Alex. Hydrofracking: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford U Press, 2014.

This is a slim, yet remarkably thorough volume on the bare facts about fracking… what all is entailed in the process, as well as a sobering picture of how water-intensive a process it is from the author of one of the best books out there on the state of the world’s fresh water, “The Ripple Effect”.


Smith, David J., Armstrong, Shelagh. This Child, Every Child:A Book About the World’s Children. Kids Can Press, 2011. (Childrens’ picturebook)

Popular nonfiction picturebook writer Smith helps children develop empathy and learn about geography and what life is like for kids around the globe in this lavishly illustrated book for budding world-citizens.


Wheatley, Margaret & Frieze, Deborah.Walk Out Walk On:A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now.Berret-Koehler Pubs.,2011.

This book goes to 7 communities around the globe where people have been using their creativity and passion to work together to live more fully conscious and resilient lives than proscribed in the dominant culture… communities where, as Joanna Macy puts it, “the future is happening- not in the corridors of power but at the grassroots”.














Chasing Ice, (James Balog, 2012) Photographer and one-time climate-skeptic James Balog’s documentation of glacier melting around the globe and its implications for the planet is a breathtaking and sobering look at the speed with which the arctic regions’ changes are outpacing humanity’s capacities to seriously address the ways that human behaviors are accelerating global warming.


Economics of Happiness, (Helena Norberg-Hodge, 2011)  Norberg-Hodge’s critique of the far-reaching environmental/cultural consequences of economic globalization, with significant focus on Laddakh’s dilemma of how to preserve a healthy cultural identity, given the pressures of imported market forces/technology– a very thought-provoking film, featuring commentary by well-known environmentalists.


Split Estate, (Debra Anderson, 2009)

With the hydrofracking boom to produce the highly touted ‘bridge fuel’ from fossil-fuels to renewables, Garfield County residents in Colorado are put under tremendous pressure as they learn that what lies beneath their property is considered fair game for energy companies determined to do horizontal drilling, regardless of the risks posed to resident humans, livestock, wildlife, air, water & ecosystems.






Environmental Health News is a free (donation-supported) online news clipping service. Published daily, it provides abstracts of and links to environmental health news stories from newspapers, wire services, and other print media throughout the English-speaking world. On request, EHN will deliver to your inbox its daily news digest, Above the Fold. A really valuable resource, and worth supporting.