Mountain

Author: Veronica della Dora
Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 9781780236957
Release Date: 2016-09-15
Genre: Science

Majestic and awe-inspiring, there is nothing like the sight of a mountain on the horizon. Throughout all of human history mountains have been linked to the eternal, attracting us to their dizzying heights, stunning us with their natural beauty, and often threatening us with their dangers. Through a compelling journey to both real and imaginary peaks, this book explores how the mountain has figured in our history, culture, and imaginations. Veronica della Dora explores the ways mountains have functioned spiritually as a boundary between life and death, a bridge between the earth and the heavens. Interlacing science, culture, and religion, she sketches the mountain as a geological phenomenon that has profoundly influenced and been influenced by the human imagination, shaping our environmental consciousness and helping us understand our—quite small indeed—place in the world. She also explores their significance as objects of human feats, as prizes of adventure and sport, and as places of serene beauty for vacationers. Magnificently illustrated and showcasing famous peaks from all around the world, Mountain offers a fascinating dual portrait of these giants in nature and culture.

Storm

Author: John Withington
Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 9781780237084
Release Date: 2016-09-15
Genre: Science

Gales, cyclones, blizzards, tornados, and hurricanes—few things demonstrate the awesome power of nature like a good storm. Devastating, diverse, and sometimes appearing completely out of nowhere, storms are also a source of both scientific and aesthetic wonder. In this book, John Withington takes an in-depth and unique look at the nature of storms and the impact that they have—both physical and cultural—on our lives. Withington shows how storms have changed the course of human history. From Roman times to the modern day, he shows how their devastating effects have wiped out entire communities, changed the fates of battle, and even reset the entire planet. He also shows how beneficial they have been to us: as an important feature of our atmosphere and climate, but also as a source of inspiration for nearly every artist who has ever lived, from Homer to Rembrandt, in works from the Old Testament to Robinson Crusoe. Beautifully illustrated, this book offers a fascinating look at Earth’s most fearsome events.

Flood

Author: John Withington
Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 9781780232096
Release Date: 2013-11-15
Genre: Nature

From the flood that remade the earth in the Old Testament to the 1931 China floods that killed almost four million people, from the broken levees in New Orleans to the almost yearly rising waters of rivers like the Mississippi, floods have many causes: rain, melting ice, storms, tsunamis, failures of dams and levees, acts of vengeful gods. They have been used as deliberate acts of war to cause thousands of casualties. Flooding kills far more people than any other natural disaster. In this cultural and natural history of floods, John Withington tells stories of the deadliest floods the world has seen while also exploring the role of the deluge in religion, mythology, literature, and art. Withington describes how aspects of floods—the power of nature, human drama, changed landscapes—have fascinated artists, novelists, and filmmakers. He examines the ancient, catastrophic flood that appears in many religions and cultures and considers how the symbol of the flood has become a key icon in world literatures and a component of the contemporary disaster movie. Withington also depicts how humans try to defend themselves against these merciless encroaching waters and discusses the increasing danger floods pose in a future beset by climate change. Filled with illustrations, Flood offers a fascinating overview of our relationship with one of humanity’s oldest and deadliest foes.

Air

Author: Peter Adey
Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 9781780232959
Release Date: 2014-06-15
Genre: Nature

Outside of yoga class, we don’t pay too much attention to the air we take in every day. Long one of the essential elements to life on earth—from the atmospheric composition that gave life to the coal-forming forests some three hundred million years ago to the air that fuels our most important technologies today—we think little of its incredible properties. In this innovative cultural and scientific history, Peter Adey takes stock of the great ocean of air that surrounds us, exploring our attempts to understand, engineer, make sense of, and find meaning in it. Adey examines how humans have managed and manipulated air as a natural resource and, in doing so, have been taken to the limits of survival, brought to high-altitude mountain peaks, subterranean worlds, and the troughs of new moral depths. Going beyond how vital air has been to our philosophical, scientific, and technological pursuits, he also reveals the way that the artistic and literary imagination has been lifted through air and how, in air, cultures have learned to express and inspire each other. Combining established figures such as Joseph Priestley, John Scott Haldane, and Marie Curie with unlikely individuals from painting, literature, and poetry, this richly illustrated book unlocks new perspectives into the science and culture of this pervasive but unnoticed substance.

Lightning

Author: Derek M. Elsom
Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 9781780235462
Release Date: 2015-10-15
Genre: Science

Few phenomena inspire more awe than lightning. Streaking across the sky, it daunts us with its power and amazes us with its beauty. In Lightning, Derek M. Elsom explores this natural phenomenon and traces the long history of our study of it. From early civilizations’ assumptions that it was the work of gods, through eighteenth-century scientific analyses (and, yes, Ben Franklin’s kite), Elsom tells about our efforts to understand and explain lightning. He explores the many surprising folklore beliefs about lightning protection and contrasts these with today's scientific approaches. Alongside scientific explorations, he also tracks the path of lightning through our culture, from myths and legends to art and design. In addition, Elsom offers handy tips for avoiding getting struck by lightning. Beautifully illustrated with stunning photographs and artistic renderings, this striking book will appeal equally to weather buffs and folklorists, scientists and artists.

Rain

Author: Cynthia Barnett
Publisher: Crown
ISBN: 9780804137102
Release Date: 2015-04-21
Genre: Science

Rain is elemental, mysterious, precious, destructive. It is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of the world's water. Yet this is the first book to tell the story of rain. Cynthia Barnett's Rain begins four billion years ago with the torrents that filled the oceans, and builds to the storms of climate change. It weaves together science—the true shape of a raindrop, the mysteries of frog and fish rains—with the human story of our ambition to control rain, from ancient rain dances to the 2,203 miles of levees that attempt to straitjacket the Mississippi River. It offers a glimpse of our "founding forecaster," Thomas Jefferson, who measured every drizzle long before modern meteorology. Two centuries later, rainy skies would help inspire Morrissey’s mopes and Kurt Cobain’s grunge. Rain is also a travelogue, taking readers to Scotland to tell the surprising story of the mackintosh raincoat, and to India, where villagers extract the scent of rain from the monsoon-drenched earth and turn it into perfume. Now, after thousands of years spent praying for rain or worshiping it; burning witches at the stake to stop rain or sacrificing small children to bring it; mocking rain with irrigated agriculture and cities built in floodplains; even trying to blast rain out of the sky with mortars meant for war, humanity has finally managed to change the rain. Only not in ways we intended. As climate change upends rainfall patterns and unleashes increasingly severe storms and drought, Barnett shows rain to be a unifying force in a fractured world. Too much and not nearly enough, rain is a conversation we share, and this is a book for everyone who has ever experienced it.

Fire

Author: Stephen J. Pyne
Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 9781780230603
Release Date: 2013-06-01
Genre: Nature

For over 400 million years, fire has been an integral force on our planet. It can be as innocent as a bonfire or as destructive and lethal as a wildfire. Human history is rife with fires that have leveled cities—the Fire of Moscow in 1812 that destroyed seventy-five percent of the city, the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 that took down 17,000 buildings, and the fire that obliterated San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake are just a few. Fire is a force of nature that can consume everything in its wake, and yet it also has tremendous powers of cleansing and renewal. At the end of the day, we can’t live without it. In Fire, Stephen J. Pyne offers a concise history of fire and its use by humanity, explaining how fire has been at the core of hunting, foraging, farming, herding, urbanizing, and managing nature reserves. He depicts how it gave humans power in ancient times, which resulted in humanity beginning to reshape the world for its own benefit. He describes how fire was used by aboriginal societies and the ways agricultural societies added control over fuel, but warns that our mastery of the science and art of fire has not given us complete control—fire disasters throughout history have defined cultures, and unexpected fires that begin as the result of other disasters have shocking effects. Pyne traces fire’s influence on landscapes, art, science, and even climate, exploring the power a simple spark has over our imaginations. Lavishly illustrated with a host of rare and unexpected images, Fire is a sizzling and accessible tale of our relationship with this primal natural force.

Clouds

Author: Richard Hamblyn
Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 9781780237701
Release Date: 2017-05-15
Genre: Science

Clouds have been objects of delight and fascination throughout human history, their fleeting magnificence and endless variety having inspired scientists and daydreamers alike. Described by Aristophanes as “the patron goddesses of idle men,” clouds and the ever-changing patterns they create have long symbolized the restlessness and unpredictability of nature, and yet they are also the source of life-giving rains. In this book, Richard Hamblyn examines clouds in their cultural, historic, and scientific contexts, exploring their prevalence in our skies as well as in our literature, art, and music. As Hamblyn shows, clouds function not only as a crucial means of circulating water around the globe but also as a finely tuned thermostat regulating the planet’s temperature. He discusses the many different kinds of clouds, from high, scattered cirrus clouds to the plump thought-bubbles of cumulus clouds, even exploring man-made clouds and clouds on other planets. He also shows how clouds have featured as meaningful symbols in human culture, whether as ominous portents of coming calamities or as ethereal figures giving shape to the heavens, whether in Wordsworth’s poetry or today’s tech speak. Comprehensive yet compact, cogent and beautifully illustrated, this is the ultimate guidebook to those shapeshifters of the sky.

The Progress of This Storm

Author: Andreas Malm
Publisher: Verso Books
ISBN: 9781786634160
Release Date: 2018-02-13
Genre: Political Science

An attack on the idea that nature and society are impossible to distinguish from each other In a world careening towards climate chaos, nature is dead. It can no longer be separated from society. Everything is a blur of hybrids, where humans possess no exceptional agency to set them apart from dead matter. But is it really so? In this blistering polemic and theoretical manifesto, Andreas Malm develops a counterargument: in a warming world, nature comes roaring back, and it is more important than ever to distinguish between the natural and the social. Only with a unique agency attributed to humans can resistance become conceivable.

Listening to the Land

Author: Derrick Jensen
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
ISBN: 9781603581189
Release Date: 2004-03-01
Genre: Nature

In this far-ranging and heartening collection, Derrick Jensen gathers conversations with environmentalists, theologians, Native Americans, psychologists, and feminists, engaging some of our best minds in an exploration of more peaceful ways to live on Earth. Included here is Dave Foreman on biodiversity, Matthew Fox on Christianity and nature, Jerry Mander on technology, and Terry Tempest Williams on an erotic connection to the land. With intelligence and compassion, Listening to the Land moves from a look at the condition of the environment and the health of our spirit to a beautiful evocation of eros and a life based on love.

At Home on the Earth

Author: David Landis Barnhill
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 0520216849
Release Date: 1999
Genre: Literary Collections

"The physical earth is clearly under unprecedented siege--heated, toxified, scraped. But almost as if they were antibodies, the finest nature writers of any era have come forward to help in the fight. This anthology collects many of the most important, at their most eloquent. May it ring and echo and do some good!"--Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature "This is a stunning collection of vivid writing about landscapes and the people who inhabit them. The diverse narratives gathered here do more than describe hawks diving and twigs snapping, although the book has its share of moving accounts of the natural world. A concern to live responsibily in nature runs through this evocative anthology like a subterranean stream, and that moral impulse, together with the lively prose, makes this the best collection of nature writing I've seen."--Thomas A. Tweed, editor of Retelling U.S. Religious History

Earth Sound Earth Signal

Author: Douglas Kahn
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 9780520257559
Release Date: 2013-08-30
Genre: Art

Earth Sound Earth Signal is a study of energies in aesthetics and the arts, from the birth of modern communications in the nineteenth century to the global transmissions of the present day. Grounded in the Aeolian sphere music that Henry David Thoreau heard blowing in telegraph lines and in the Aelectrosonic sounds of natural radio that Thomas Watson heard in telephone lines, the book moves through the histories of science, media, music, and the arts to the 1960s, when the composer Alvin Lucier worked with the ""natural electromagnetic sounds"" present from ""brainwaves to outer.

Isaac s Storm

Author: Erik Larson
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 9780307874092
Release Date: 2011-10-19
Genre: History

At the dawn of the twentieth century, a great confidence suffused America. Isaac Cline was one of the era's new men, a scientist who believed he knew all there was to know about the motion of clouds and the behavior of storms. The idea that a hurricane could damage the city of Galveston, Texas, where he was based, was to him preposterous, "an absurd delusion." It was 1900, a year when America felt bigger and stronger than ever before. Nothing in nature could hobble the gleaming city of Galveston, then a magical place that seemed destined to become the New York of the Gulf. That August, a strange, prolonged heat wave gripped the nation and killed scores of people in New York and Chicago. Odd things seemed to happen everywhere: A plague of crickets engulfed Waco. The Bering Glacier began to shrink. Rain fell on Galveston with greater intensity than anyone could remember. Far away, in Africa, immense thunderstorms blossomed over the city of Dakar, and great currents of wind converged. A wave of atmospheric turbulence slipped from the coast of western Africa. Most such waves faded quickly. This one did not. In Cuba, America's overconfidence was made all too obvious by the Weather Bureau's obsession with controlling hurricane forecasts, even though Cuba's indigenous weathermen had pioneered hurricane science. As the bureau's forecasters assured the nation that all was calm in the Caribbean, Cuba's own weathermen fretted about ominous signs in the sky. A curious stillness gripped Antigua. Only a few unlucky sea captains discovered that the storm had achieved an intensity no man alive had ever experienced. In Galveston, reassured by Cline's belief that no hurricane could seriously damage the city, there was celebration. Children played in the rising water. Hundreds of people gathered at the beach to marvel at the fantastically tall waves and gorgeous pink sky, until the surf began ripping the city's beloved beachfront apart. Within the next few hours Galveston would endure a hurricane that to this day remains the nation's deadliest natural disaster. In Galveston alone at least 6,000 people, possibly as many as 10,000, would lose their lives, a number far greater than the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. And Isaac Cline would experience his own unbearable loss. Meticulously researched and vividly written, Isaac's Storm is based on Cline's own letters, telegrams, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the hows and whys of great storms. Ultimately, however, it is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets nature's last great uncontrollable force. As such, Isaac's Storm carries a warning for our time. From the Hardcover edition.

Storm

Author: Donna Jo Napoli
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781481403023
Release Date: 2014-02-11
Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Having lost her family in a massive flood, sixteen-year-old Sebah finds her way onto a gigantic ark, where she must conceal herself from Noah and his family until it is safe for her and another stowaway to slip away.

Water Planet The Culture Politics Economics and Sustainability of Water on Earth

Author: Camille Gaskin-Reyes
Publisher: ABC-CLIO
ISBN: 9781440838170
Release Date: 2016-10-24
Genre: Nature

Through case studies, opposing viewpoints, and primary documents, this reference work examines the environmental and sustainability issues regarding water as well as how water is an intrinsic part of human culture. • Presents a variety of resources and multidisciplinary perspectives on water in a single book • Offers opposing viewpoints on current world water issues that enable readers to consider these problems from political, cultural, economic, and scientific vantage points • Documents how some practical necessities regarding our global water problems are in conflict with established cultural tradition and values