Nature and Environmental Book Reviews

Short List of Best Nature and Environmental Books




Globalization refers to the increasingly interconnected global economic system, which enhances the flow of trade among countries around the world . . . learn more about Globalization»

The benefits and the disadvantages of globalization are strongly and cogently argued in the books recommended below. Several books describe the inner workings of global trade and the global economy with interesting examples we can all relate to – where was that T shirt made? What are all these rusty steel containers with foreign words on them we see being pulled on the highway by big trucks in a hurry? Economists and finance and trade experts clarify this complex global trade system that touches all our lives.

Recommended Books on Globalization

Alternatives to Economic GlobalizationAlternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World Is Possible
John Cavanagh and Jerry Mander, editors

The culmination of a 5-year project by the International Forum on Globalization, this book presents an inspiring plan for moving toward more sustainable, humanistic models of economic prosperity with an emphasis on citizen democracies, local self-sufficiency, and ecological health. Areas of discussion include the ten core requirements for democratic societies as well as alternative systems of energy, agriculture, and manufacturing. Written by a premier group of 18 thinkers from around the world, this book represents the official consensus of the living democracy movement. 2004, Berrett-Koehler Publishers

Bound TogetherBound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization
Nayan Chanda

While globalization may be a relatively new term, Professor Chandra argues intriguingly that its history ranges across centuries, beginning when the first humans left Africa, "following game herds...or shellfish beds around the Arabian Peninsula." He illuminates the stepping stones of mankind's global conquest, such as early trading routes, the domestication of horses, the rise of the world's great religions, the slave trade, the Internet and the spread of diseases like SARS and Avian flu, with the perspectives of psychology, geography, philosophy, theology, commerce and military history. He argues that globalization was, is and will always be inevitable: for example, migrants constitute 20% of the population in some 41 of the world's largest countries. A fascinating tale. 2007, Yale University Press

The BoxThe Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy
Marc Levinson

Economist Levinson tells the story of burgeoning world trade by focusing on the "tin cans" - the shipping containers and container ships that move the bulk of manufactured goods around the globe. The book follows the ramifications of the lowly shipping container - from the closing of traditional and antiquated ports to the rise of Asia as the world's preeminent provider of inexpensive consumer goods - that have affected the lives of consumers and workers worldwide. 2008, Princeton University Press

The Case Against the Global EconomyThe Case Against the Global Economy
Jerry Mander, editor

The contributors to this handbook argue that the rush toward economic globalization, based on free trade and deregulation, is both harmful and revesible. Its consequences, they contend, include overcrowded cities, widening of the gap between rich and poor, lowering of wages while prices soar, destruction of wilderness, flattening of local traditions and cultures. Their recommendation? Pursue the opposite path - promote greater economic localization through cooperatives and small companies that cater to local amd regional markets. Essays deal with corporate control of the media and of financial markets; the worldwide small-farm movement; and the emergence of local currencies, barter and work exchange networks. 1997, Sierra Club Books

ConnectedConnected: 24 Hours in the Global Economy
Daniel Altman

This global macroeconomic primer reminds us that we're all in this together. Using an hour-by-hour timeline, Altman discusses many concepts: exchange rates, trade deficits, international deals, currency markets, corruption, financial derivatives, technological innovation and the central importance of oil. While acknowledging the outsized role of the U.S., he offers valuable glimpses of key foreign economies and shows how they fit into the "world trading system." 2007, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Corporation NationCorporation Nation: How Corporations are Taking Over Our Lives -- and What We Can Do About It
Charles Derber

Sociologist Derber mounts a serious critique of the rise and dominance of multinational corporations. He calls for a "positive populism" to defend society against corporate control, while at the same time protecting the health of business. He points out that seemingly private corporations are actually quite dependent, relying on government for subsidies, infrastructure and trade law, and suggests that strengthened unions can help narrow national income gaps. Pointing to German-style stakeholder corporations in which workers and community representatives have a voice in governance, he calls for all corporations over $1 billion to be "public corporations", required to serve clear public needs. 2000, St. Martin's Griffin

The Corporate PlanetThe Corporate Planet: Ecology and Politics in the Age of Globalization
Joshua Karliner

"Increasingly flagless and stateless," eco-activist Karliner warns, multinational corporations "weave global webs of production, commerce, culture and finance virtually unopposed." These corporations work with cooperative politicians and officials to avoid existing laws and squash attempts to strengthen environmental protections - exporting pollution to countries with lax environmental laws, displacing indigenous cultures and sustainable local economies. This strong critique includes case studies of corporations like Chevron and Mitsubishi, demonstrating corporate responsibility for creating pollution. 1997, Sierra Club Books

In Defense of GlobalizationIn Defense of Globalization
Jagdish Bhagwati

Economist Bhagwati takes on the critics of globalization, believing that, when properly governed, it is in fact the most powerful force for social good in the world today. He limits his defense to trade, direct investment and migration, however, forcefully denouncing the 'Wall Street-Treasury Complex' that cajoled developing countries into eliminating capital controls. With wit and wisdom, and drawing upon history, philosophy and literature, this renowned economist distills his thinking about globalization for the lay reader. 2007, Oxford University Press

The Ecology of CommerceThe Ecology of Commerce
Paul Hawken

Paul Hawken believes "we need a design for business that will ensure that the industrial world as it is presently constituted ceases and is replaced with human-centered enterprises that are sustainable producers." He thoughtfully reviews ecological theories and disasters and insists that ecology offers a way to examine all present economic and resource activities from a biological rather than a monetary point of view. He calls for a restorative economy, one that does not draw upon resources unsustainably, degrade other people's environment, or displace other species by taking over their habitats. 1994, Collins

Global CapitalismGlobal Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the Twentieth Century
Jeffry A. Friedan

Global Capitalism traces the history of globalization from the late 1800s to the present. Dr. Frieden says that "global economy and culture form a nearly seamless web in which the national boundaries are increasingly irrelevant to trade, investment, finance and other economic activity." While expanding economic opportunities and benefitting many, global capitalism does not address those ill-treated by world markets (for example, the unemployed, the poor, children and the elderly) and has driven many societies toward conflict and class warfare. "This is an excellent, readable history of globalization with important lessons for our society today." - Booklist 2007, W. W. Norton

Global OutlawsGlobal Outlaws: Crime, Money, and Power in the Contemporary World
Carolyn Nordstrom

Carolyn Nordstrom explores the pathways of global crime in this stunning work of anthropology. She traveled around the world investigating the dynamics of illegal trade - from blood diamonds and arms to pharmaceuticals, exotica, and staples like food and oil. Global Outlaws peels away the layers of a vast economy that extends from a war orphan in Angola selling Marlboros on the street to powerful transnational networks reaching across continents and oceans. This compelling investigation, showing that the sum total of extra-legal activities represents a significant part of the world's economy, provides a new framework for understanding 21st century economics and economic power. 2007, University of California Press

Globalization and Its Discontents
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Globalization and Its Discontents
Joseph E. Stiglitz

Nobel prize-winner Stiglitz, an experienced economist, explains what globalization means in practice and offers a reasoned critique of the main institutions that govern globalization: the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. He strongly believes that globalization can be a positive force around the world, particularly for the poor, but only if the IMF, World Bank, and WTO dramatically alter the way they operate, beginning with increased transparency and a greater willingness to examine their own actions closely. This smart, provocative study contributes significantly to the ongoing debate and provides a model of analytical rigor concerning the process of assisting countries facing the challenges of economic development and transformation. 2003, W. W. Norton

Globalization and Its EnemiesGlobalization and Its Enemies
Daniel Cohen

Professor Cohen debunks the commonly held wisdom on both sides of the globalization debate: that it's a new phenomenon, that it thrives on the exploitation of poor countries by rich ones, and that it raises all boats - rich and poor. Globalization is no novelty, Cohen argues, but began with Spanish Conquistadors, was adopted by Great Britain, and is now entering a new stage based on radical advances in transportation and communication. He notes that, rather than exploiting undeveloped nations, rich countries exclude them: this gives impoverished countries a powerful image of progress but not the means to achieve it. 2007, The MIT Press

The Lexus and the Olive TreeThe Lexus and The Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization
Thomas L. Friedman

New York Times columnist Friedman gives a succinct and insightful explanation of the benefits and challenges of globalization and technology. The Lexus, the automobile that uses parts from all over the world, represents the marvels of technological development and global integration; the olive tree is synonymous with traditional, communal agrarian existence. While globalization is the central organizing principle of the post-cold war world, many individuals and nations resist by holding on to what has traditionally mattered to them. Friedman compellingly dissects the major issues facing all societies as the world grows ever smaller. 2000, Anchor

Making Globalization WorkMaking Globalization Work
Joseph E. Stiglitz

In this book, Professor Stiglitz offers concrete proposals to address the ills of globalization he outlined in his earlier book, Globalization and its Discontents. He offers inventive solutions to a host of problems, including the indebtedness of developing countries, international fiscal instability, and worldwide pollution. He argues for the reform of global financial institutions, trade agreements, and intellectual property laws, to make them better able to respond to the growing disparity between the richest and poorest countries. Now more than ever before there is the need to think and act globally. 2007, W. W. Norton

A Movable FeastA Movable Feast: Ten Millennia of Food Globalization
Kenneth F. Kiple

The globalization of food -whereby the cuisines of the world have been increasingly untied from regional food production and the foods of the world have become increasingly available to everyone in the world - is not a new economic concept: it's as old as agriculture itself. Kiple shows how the spread of agriculture increased food production which encouraged population growth, which invariably created food shortages and disease. A fascinating story of how our foods come from every corner of the globe. 2007, Cambridge University Press

Natural CapitalismNatural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution
Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins

Natural Capitalism shows how leading-edge companies are practicing "a new type of industrialism" that is more efficient and profitable while saving the environment and creating jobs. The authors write that in the next century, cars will get 200 miles per gallon without compromising safety and power, manufacturers will relentlessly recycle their products, and the world's standard of living will jump without further damaging natural resources. They call their approach natural capitalism because it's based on the principle that business can be good for the environment - and the tools are at hand to make it work. A fascinating and provocative read. 2000, Back Bay Books

Runaway WorldRunaway World: How Globalisation Is Reshaping Our Lives
Anthony Giddens

Forget the global village, says celebrated London scholar Giddens in this accessible book on the aftereffects of globalization: on the contrary, we've got "global pillage." This book confronts the benefits and dangers of global processes and asserts that life in the coming century will amount to a precarious game of risk management. Giddens believes that globalization's most profound effects will be not economic but cultural - citing the advent of a global cosmopolitan society and its concomitant fundamentalist backlash. 2002, Routledge

Strangely Like WarStrangely Like War: The Global Assault on Forests
Derrick Jensen and George Draffan

In the U.S., only five percent of native forest remains; forests worldwide are also under attack, with one estimate claiming that two and a half acres are cut every second. Deforestation causes the extinction of plants and animals in addition to driving human forest dwellers, like the Karen of Burma, the Mapuche of Chile and the Penan of Malaysia, from their homelands and into urban shantytowns. The authors provide many instances of collusion between the paper and lumber industries and government, which in the U.S. has led to commercial timber and logging interests being permitted to destroy forests almost without restriction. Globalization, the authors argue, is a network of financial, legal and political structures that operate for the benefit of the economic elite, allowing those in power to consume the natural resources of other nations. 2003, Chelsea Green Publishing

SupercapitalismSupercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life
Robert B. Reich

In this compelling and important analysis of the triumph of capitalism and the decline of democracy, former labor secretary Reich urges us to rebalance the roles of business and government. Power, he writes, has shifted away from us in our capacities as citizens and toward us as consumers and investors. While praising the spread of global capitalism, he laments that supercapitalism has brought with it alienation from politics and community. The solution: to separate capitalism from democracy, and guard the border between them. Provocatively argued, and an important conversation. 2008, Vintage

The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global EconomyThe Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade
Pietra Rivoli

Author Rivoli interviewed cotton farmers in Texas, factory workers in China, labor champions in the American South and used-clothing vendors in Tanzania. She concludes that problems arise not with the market, but with the suppression of the market. Subsidized farmers, and manufacturers and importers with tax breaks, she argues, succeed because they avoid the risks and competition of unprotected global trade, which in turn forces poorer countries to lower their prices to below subsistence levels in order to compete. Travels of a T-Shirt engagingly demonstrates the social dimensions of the global economy. 2009, Wiley

When Corporations Rule the WorldWhen Corporations Rule the World
David C. Korten

This well-documented, apocalyptic tome describes the global spread of corporate power as a malignant cancer exercising a market tyranny that is gradually destroying lives, democratic institutions and the ecosystem for the benefit of greedy companies and investors. Korten prescribes a reordering of developmental priorities to restore local control and benefits, including closing the World Bank, and suggests shifting tax policies to punish greed and reward social responsibility. 2001, Berrett-Koehler Publishers

Why Globalization WorksWhy Globalization Works
Martin Wolf

Economist Wolf begins this book with his belief that the value of the individual and the importance of that individual's right to pursue economic advancement are the foundation of the world's great democracies. He levels a devastating and reasoned critique against the anti-globalists and the diverse interests that oppose the global integration of markets. He presents strong evidence that the power of international corporations has been exaggerated, and concludes that the issue isn't too much globalization, but rather too little. Wolf offers a spirited defense of the global market economy and presents a realistic scenario for economic internationalism in the post 9/11 age. 2005, Yale University Press

The World Is Flat
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The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
Thomas L. Friedman

What Friedman means by "flat" is "connected": the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution that have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet. Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations or giant trade organizations like the World Bank, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (but especially in India and China) who can compete - and win - not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the highest-end research and design work as well. Friedman also highlights the importance of what he calls "uploading" -the direct-from-the-bottom creation of culture, knowledge, and innovation through blogging, podcasts, and open-source software. 2007, Picador

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