Library - Environmental Justice

Human-caused threats to the Earth’s life-sustaining abilities are not evenly suffered by the World’s human populations. In fact, those having the least responsibility for human-caused environmental degradation tend to be the ones most severely and negatively affected by it.

Subsistence-based indigenous peoples throughout the World have seen both their environments and their cultures decimated; impoverished peoples live in dangerous industrial corridors or other disaster-prone landscapes because they cannot afford to live anywhere else. These are also the peoples most imperiled by food and water shortages that climate change is already causing, and that are expected to only get worse. Basic principles of human rights call for these inequities in the suffering of environmental harms to be made known and to be remedied.

The wealthier nations of the World have become so largely by taking that which was not given; that is, by extracting resources and developing economies based on those resources at the expense of those who now find themselves most impoverished. The Buddha’s teachings on the importance of generosity in overcoming greed and attachment apply no less at the societal and global level than they do in the realm of personal practice.




Allen, Will. The Good Food Revolution. Gotham/Penguin, 2012.

Part inspiring memoir, part manifesto for getting projects like ‘Growing Power’, a community initiative the author started in Milwaukee, off the ground to move from a ‘food desert’ to a food oasis, bringing people together to improve health at every level of the journey–Allen has been very influential in many urban contexts around the country, including Denver’s permaculture community.


De La Torre, Miguel. The Hope of Liberation in World Religions. Baylor University Press, 2008.

This book, by  Director of the Justice & Peace Institute at Denver’s Iliff School of Theology, looks at the world’s major wisdom traditions through the lens of how each addresses the spiritual/moral underpinnings of  human well-being in the face of globalized neoliberal capitalism.  


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 andTheo Colborn) and contains inspiring, unique stories of how each became effective advocates for healthier stewardship of our planet… fwd by Julia Butterfly Hill.


Parenti, Christian. Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change & the New Geography of Violence. Nation Books, 2011.

Parenti presents a cogent argument for more mindful alternatives to unbridled capitalism combined with military power as humanity’s best response to climate change. Quoting the author; 

“…we must find humane and just means of adaptation”(to climate change)”, or we face barbaric prospects.”


Patel, Raj. Stuffed & Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. Melville House, 2007.

Packed with insights and historical information that illuminates why our globalized food system results in more hunger as well as obeisity than ever before, this riveting look at food justice issues reveals not just the tragedy of Big Ag’s heavy carbon footprint and toll on human health, but explores how communities large and small are building more sustainable, resilient ways to feed humanity.


Smith, David J., illus. by Armstrong, Shelagh. If America Were a Village.Kids Can Press, 2009.*  (Childrens’ picturebook)

Smith’s followup to his acclaimed If The World Were A Village(2002) children learn the breakdown percentage-wise of the  people of the US (just like they did of people of the world in the earlier book)  in realms like material wealth, gender, access to education, ancestry, religion etc. by observing a small, hypothetical village of 100 people in this imaginative and informative picturebook for young children (K-5).


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.


Strauss, Rochelle. One Well: The Story of Water on Earth. Kids Can Press, 2007. (Childrens’ picturebook)

This beautifully illustrated book (illus. by Rosemary Woods) shows kids how important water is for life on Earth and initiates them to the ideas of environmental justice, water conservation and protection, inspiring them to develop mindfulness and care about this miraculous substance we all need.





Blue Gold, (Sam Bozzo, 2008) with much of the same material that’s in Maude Barlow’s (excellent) book of the same name, this film is a valuable wakeup call to the state of the world’s fresh water and the contest between indigenous or earth-conscious vs corporate perspectives on how best to deal with how humanity uses/treats/views this incredibly important ‘resource’.


Climate Refugees, (Lester Brown, 2010)  shows how people in various regions of the world are dealing with climate-change-driven diasporas, as the physical and social integrity of their communities (and sometimes entire nations) are imperiled by floods, droughts, fires and other climate-related events.  With analysis of what can be expected both with and without radical changes in the way human beings respond to fellow humans’ calamities in the wake of climate catastrophe, this film asks us to dig deep into our world view of what it is to be human… and humane.