Nature and Environmental Book Reviews

Short List of Best Nature and Environmental Books



Conflict Resolution

The Earth possesses a finitude of resources which are currently being extracted and consumed without regard for sustainability. News stories reassuring us that there is a 50-year supply of petroleum in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, or a 200-year supply of coal in the U.S. fail to address the larger question: what happens after 50 years? After 200 years? Learn more about Conflict Resolution»

The recommended books in this section include impassioned pleas to avoid the terrible destruction of war; manuals of techniques and approaches to cross-cultural conflict resolution; analyses of how conflicting demands for scarce resources can increasingly destabilize current political arrangements; and roadmaps for promoting international cooperation, social justice and environmental protection.

Recommended Books on Conflict Resolution

Approaches to PeaceApproaches to Peace: A Reader in Peace Studies
David P. Barash, editor

Approaches to Peace provides a unique and interdisciplinary sampling of classic articles and short literary selections focusing on the diverse aspects of peace and conflict studies. Essays cover the causes of war and proposed means of preventing it, so-called negative peace; and also reflect upon the universal concern for positive peace. The book examines nonviolence movements, peace movements, religious inspirations, and our future prospects for peace. 1999, Oxford University Press

Bridging Cultural ConflictsBridging Cultural Conflicts: A New Approach for a Changing World
Michelle LeBaron

In our global society, challenging conflicts abound in personal, business, government, and international settings. Many of these conflicts are complicated by layers of miscommunication, cultural misunderstandings, and completely different ways of looking at the world. These conflicts cannot be solved by goodwill or sincere intentions alone. Bridging Cultural Conflicts is a groundbreaking contribution, offering approaches to conflict resolution that cut through complexity and replace confusion with clarity. It introduces mindful awareness, cultural fluency, and conflict fluency as tools for decoding and moving through intercultural conflicts, and for deepening and integrating change. LeBaron encourages dynamic ongoing engagement to help prevent intercultural conflict, limit its escalation, and transform it into learning experiences for all concerned. 2003, Jossey-Bass

Conflict Mediation Across CulturesConflict Mediation Across Cultures: Pathways and Patterns
David W. Augsberger

Believing that conflict is inevitable in human life, Augsberger sees that it is essential and can be quite constructive. He proposes a shift to an international approach in resolving conflict, focusing on interpersonal and group conflicts, with examples of varying conflict patterns within and among different cultures. 1992, Westminster John Knox Press

Contested Nature
Short List

Contested Nature: Promoting International Biodiversity and Social Justice in the Twenty-First Century
Steven R. Brechin

How can the international conservation movement protect biological diversity, while at the same time safeguarding the rights and fulfilling the needs of people, particularly the poor? Contested Nature argues that to be successful in the long term, social justice and biological conservation must go hand in hand. The protection of nature is a complex social enterprise, and much more a process of politics, and of human organization, than ecology. Using case studies, the book shows that pursuing social justice enhances biodiversity conservation rather than diminishing it, and that the fate of local peoples and that of conservation are completely intertwined. 2003, State University of New York Press

Cultures of PeaceCultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History
Elise Boulding

Peace activist Boulding describes "peace cultures" where people's resistance to oppressive institutions and their persistent experiments with peacable living arrangements remind us that peace is possible and the two cultural themes of violence and peace interact over time" to effect the transformation of human societies. Utopian communities are examined and the difficult disciplines that make transformation possible are frankly discussed. She points out that social compassion begins in the small local setting, opening new paths to the greater whole. She describes the ground-breaking global peacemaking efforts undertaken by feminists, particularly through the United Nations and associated NGOs. This hopeful book believes that it is possible to transform our war culture into "an interconnected localist world of adventurous but peaceful problem-solvers." 2000, Syracuse University Press

The Dynamics of Conflict ResolutionThe Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Practitioner's Guide
Bernard Mayer

Conflicts may be thought of as having three dimensions: perception, feeling and action - believing that the parties are in conflict; being angry or afraid or feeling threatened; and taking action, from speech to violence. Successful conflict resolution must address all three areas in order to be lasting: the parties must come to believe that the conflict is ended; they must no longer feel in conflict; and they must stop conflict behavior and implement new behaviors. One of the most important features of successful conflict resolution, Mayer concludes, is its ability to empower disputants. Conflict resolution skills provide tools to make the world a better place by decreasing violence and intolerance, and by promoting democracy and the struggle for social justice. 2000, Jossey-Bass

Homer-Dixon Thomas

Ecoviolence explores the links between environmental scarcities of key renewable resources - such as cropland, fresh water, and forests - and violent rebellions, insurgencies, and ethnic clashes in developing countries. Detailed contemporary studies of civil violence in Chiapas, Gaza, South Africa, Pakistan, and Rwanda show how environmental scarcity has played a limited to significant role in causing social instability in each of these contexts. 1998, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Global Conflict Resolution Through Positioning AnalysisGlobal Conflict Resolution through Positioning Analysis
Fathali M. Moghaddam, Rom Harré and Naomi Lee, editors

Positioning theory is the study of the nature, formation, influence, and ways of change of local systems of rights and duties as shared assumptions influence small-scale interactions. Evolving from linguistics origins, the theory concerns conventions of speech and action that are labile, contestable, and ephemeral. With this theory researchers are able to examine the dynamic flow of social interaction as well as give equal weight to the role of discourse and the psychological resolution of conflict. This volume applies the theory to further the understanding of conflict and conflict resolution. Examples used range from the interpersonal level to the international level. 2007, Springer

How to Stop the Next War NowHow to Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism
Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, editors

How to Stop the Next War Now is a reflective look and call to action to end violence, by acclaimed peace activists, experts, and visionaries. The book offers expert insight on the issues and institutions that encourage war, including the media, politicians, global militarization, and the pending scarcity of natural resources. A powerful, smart, and passionate work, this book aims to educate and reflect on the effectiveness of peace movement activities and offer hope - through shared ideas, action steps, and checklists - to transform a culture of violence to a culture of peace. How can people humanize each other, ask the authors, and act as responsible global citizens? With vitality, joy, and a dash of CODEPINK-style humor, this book insists that the time is ripe for the first-ever global movement to put an end to war - and tells readers what they can do about it. 2005, New World Library

Learning PeaceLearning Peace: The Promise of Ecological and Cooperative Education
Betty Reardon

To produce this book, a group of highly qualified scholars and educators - from the U.S. and the Soviet Union - collaborated, exchanging ideas and practical programs for teaching ecological and cooperative education. This occurred before the fall of the Soviet Union - the contributors were thus modelling the process they advocate in the book. They were flexible in their thinking, learning from each other; they couched their concerns in a framework of human rights, political and social responsibility; they aimed to effect practical transformations of national educational approaches that were often myopic and competetive. 1994, State University of New York Press

Making Sense of Intractable Environmental ConflictsMaking Sense of Intractable Environmental Conflicts: Concepts And Cases
Roy Lewicki, Barbara Gray and Michael Elliott, editors

This book examines intense disputes that persist over long periods of time and cannot be resolved through consensus-building efforts or by administrative, legal, or political means. The approach offered here focuses on the "frames" parties use to define and enact the dispute - the lenses through which they interpret and understand the conflict and critical conflict dynamics. The authors offer case studies of eight intractable environmental conflicts, and set forth recommendations for intervention that can help resolve them.
Winner of the International Association of Conflict Management's Best Book Award, 2004
2002, Island Press

Managing Public DisputesManaging Public Disputes: A Practical Guide for Professionals in Government, Business and Citizen's Groups
Susan L. Carpenter and W. J. D. Kennedy

Managing Public Disputes is the first choice for a hands-on guide for managers, offering useful instructions for handling a wide range of large and small public controversies from the national to the community level. It includes ten proven principles for managing conflict; a comprehensive framework with step-by-step procedures for creating productive outcomes; illustrative case examples; effective methods for collecting information and analyzing a conflict situation; suggestions for handling particularly difficult situations and keeping people at the negotiation table; and a structure for designing an overall strategy for managing public disputes. 2001, Jossey-Bass

On the Edge of ScarcityOn the Edge of Scarcity: Environment, Resources, Population, Sustainability, and Conflict
Michael N. Dobkowski and Isidor Wallimann, editors

On the Edge of Scarcity provides a grim look into the face of death and doom. While the essays in this collection vary in their focus from the coming ecological crisis to particular cases of genocide, the central theme running throughout is mass death and the impending end of civilization as we know it. Most of the 13 essays focus on the converging crises of overpopulation, resource depletion and environmental degradation - which together face mankind with its greatest challenge to date. 2002, Syracuse University Press

Paving the WayPaving the Way: Contributions of Interactive Conflict Resolution to Peacemaking
Ronald J. Fisher

This first-of-a-kind collection brings together in one volume the strongest available evidence of successful transfer effects from unofficial third-party work to official peacemaking. Using comparative case analysis from several real-world interventions, Paving the Way offers insights into the conditions and qualities of successful programs of interactive conflict resolution from experts in the field. Seminal case studies that illustrate interactive approaches to conflict redolution include the Malaysia-Indonesia conflict in the 1960s and the Peru-Ecuador peace process of the late 1990s. 2005, Lexington Books

Peace and Conflict StudiesPeace and Conflict Studies
David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel

This core text comprehensively introduces readers to the relatively young interdisciplinary field of peace and conflict studies. This field is unabashedly value-oriented, and although the authors are up front about their own values and opinions, they attempt to present all sides of complex debates to assist readers in forming their own opinions. 2008, Sage Publications; 2nd edition

Peace ParksPeace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution
Saleem H. Ali, editor

Peace Parks explores the question of whether environmental conservation can contribute to peace-building in conflict zones. It examines the ways in which environmental cooperation in multijurisdictional conservation areas may help resolve political and territorial conflicts. Its analyses and case studies of transboundary peace parks focus on how the sharing of physical space and management responsibilities can build and sustain peace among countries. The book examines the roles played by governments, the military, civil society, scientists, and conservationists, and their effects on both the ecological management and the potential for peace-building in these areas. 2007, The MIT Press

Preparing for PeacePreparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures
John Paul Lederach

Lederach prents a case for considering how we approach conflict resolution training across cultures. His approach in this book is to draw the reader into considering the objectives and mechanics used to achieve the goals set forth for training and to be openminded in our consideration of conflict; people's cultural resources; and conflict transformation. This is not a "how-to" book on training, but one that encourages leaving the imagination open to create workable and meaningful training approaches. 1995, Syracuse University Press

The Promise and Performance of Environmental Conflict ResolutionThe Promise and Performance of Environmental Conflict Resolution
Rosemary O'Leary and Lisa B. Bingham, editors

Environmental conflict resolution (ECR) is a process of negotiation that allows stakeholders in a dispute to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement on their own terms. The tools of ECR, such as facilitation, mediation, and conflict assessment, suggest that it fits well with other ideas for reforming environmental policy. First used in 1974, ECR has been an official part of policymaking since the mid-1990s. This is the first book to evaluate systematically the results of these efforts. The contributions to this book critically investigate the record and potential of ECR, drawing on perspectives from political science, public administration, regional planning, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, and law. 2003, RFF Press

the Promise of MediationThe Promise of Mediation: The Transformative Approach to Conflict
Robert A. Baruch Bush and Joseph P. Folger

This revised version of a landmark classic continues to articulate the "transformative model" of mediation, which greatly humanizes the vision of how mediation can help parties in conflict. Bush and Folger draw on a decade of work in theory development, training, practice, research, and assessment to provide a compelling description of how the field has moved toward increasing acceptance of the transformative model as well as many concrete examples of how the theory can be put into practice in conflict intervention. 2004, Jossey-Bass

Rambo and the Dalia LamaRambo and the Dalai Lama: The Compulsion to Win and Its Threat to Human Survival
Gordon Fellman

Professor Fellman suggests that the assumption that human life is based on conflicts of interest, wars, and the opposition of people to each other and to nature exists as a paradigm that supplies meaning and orientation to the world. An alternative paradigm sees cooperation, caring, nurturing, and loving as equally viable ways of organizing relationships of humans to each other and to nature. Fellman sees this shifting emphasis from adversarialism to mutuality as essential to the survival of our species and nature itself. This book opens up a way of thinking that can lead to social design and behavior changes at every level from the family to the international system, moving away from current trends of increasing violence. 1998, State University of New York Press

Resource Wars
Short List

Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict
Michael T. Klare

Demand by rapidly growing populations for scarce resources is the most likely cause of wars in the 21st century, Klare says. He describes rapidly increasing demand for resources as the world industrializes; the concentration of resources in unstable states; and the competing claims to ownership of these resources by neighboring states. He sees the potential for conflict over oil in the Persian Gulf and in the Caspian and South China Seas; over water in the Nile Basin and other multinational river systems; and over timber, gems and minerals from Borneo to Sierra Leone. Finite resources, escalating demand and the location of resources in regions torn by ethnic and political unrest all combine as preconditions of war. Klare presents a persuasive case for paying serious attention to these impending hostilities and furnishes the basic information needed to understand their danger and the importance of international cooperation in staving off conflict. 2002, Holt

Understanding Conflict ResolutionUnderstanding Conflict Resolution: War, Peace and the Global System
Peter Wallensteen

This is a comprehensive guide to understanding conflict resolution in the contemporary global environment. Understanding Conflict Resolution draws on recent and classic research from around the world. The first section reviews the development of conflict resolution since the Cold War and demonstrates the various approaches to conflict analysis. The core of the book explores the settlement of three major types of international conflict: inter-state, internal conflicts, and those arising from state formation. In the final section of the book Wallensteen examines regional and international approaches currently being used, and poses questions regarding the future of conflict resolution. Case studies look at the war on terror and events in Sudan, Lebanon, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe; developments in UN reform and the increasing importance of NGOs are described. 2007, Sage Publications

Urgent Message from MotherUrgent Message From Mother: Gather The Women, Save The World
Jean Shinoda Bolen

Bolen's poetic polemic explores the psychological, spiritual, and scientific aspects of women as collaborators for change. She calls the current wave of feminism "the women's peace movement" - and urges women to work together to end conflict and violence in the world. Bolen cites scientific research showing that women's brains make them better able to develop both their intellectual and emotional sides - and are thus more available to respond to the needs of children and the suffering world as a whole. Instead of the "fight or flight" reaction that men know, women have a "tend and befriend" response to crises as a result of an increase in oxytocin, the maternal bonding hormone. While men become more adrenalized and aggressive, women nurture and protect - biologically. From this compelling evidence Bolen makes a strongly convincing case that now is the time for women to lead - to fiercely protect all that we love. 2005, Conari Press

Violence and CompassionViolence and Compassion: Dialogues on Life Today
Dalai Lama and Jean-Claude Carriere

In these wide-ranging talks, the Dalai Lama calls for democratic elections in Tibet, supports birth control and women's rights and stresses the global need for population control as a step toward combating poverty and environmental destruction. He suggests that Buddhism, with meditation as its core practice, can be an antidote to racism and fundamentalism of every stripe, because it teaches tolerance, peace of mind, compassion and the interdependence of all things. 2001, Image

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