FEN Book Shelf

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

by Joshua Karliner.

Paperback, 320 pages. Published by Sierra Club Books, November, 1997. ISBN: 0871564343


Citing case histories such as Chevron, Shell, and Mitsubishi, CORPORATE WATCH editor Joshua Karliner brilliantly exposes how transnationals--aided by free trade agreements, World Bank policies, and massive consumer campaigns--play central roles in environmental destruction. This important and timely book is a significant contribution to the battle against irresponsible corporate behavior.

"The corporation, by its nature, is as blind as it is powerful. Spiritually blind, morally blind. As a collective entity, it is worse than any of the individuals who make it up. The intensity and importance of The Corporate Planet comes from the passion and the skill with which it opens us to a vision of how dangerous to the future of our globe is global capitalism itself." -- Norman Mailer

"In The Corporate Planet, Joshua Karliner outlines the emerging environmental conflict between corporations wanting the freedom to plunder the earth's boundaries and people who depend on the earth for their sustenance. Essential reading for all who want to be informed members of the Earth Family in the globalization period." --Dr. Vandana Shiva, Research Foundation for Science, Technology & Natural Resource Policy, India.



The Dying of the Trees : The Pandemic in America's Forests by Charles E. Little.

Hardcover, 275 pages. Published by Viking Press, August, 1995.

ISBN: 0670841358

I first heard the words "die back" and "decline" in the context of the forest about 15 years ago. It was then that I noticed that the White ash on my land were looking a bit peaked. The foliage was thin, fewer and fewer branches were leafing out every year, A naturalist friend who has carefully observed trees all his life suggested that it might be due to the depletion of the ozone layer and the work of a virus. And so when I discovered this book in a store in of all places New York City, I bought it, thinking I would learn more about what he said about what was happening to my trees in Temple. I did. My friend was right.

This is a grim book, as its name implies. It is about the death and dying of the trees in the forests not just here in Maine but throughout these United States. It's about what's happening to the dogwoods in Maryland, to the red spruce in Vermont, to the Fraser fir in West Virginia, to the Ponderosa pine in California, to the Douglas fir in Colorado, and to the oaks and aspens of northern Michigan.

And it is a book that tells us once again: we have met the enemy and the enemy is us.

The trees in this country are dying at an extraordinary rate, says Little, and they are doing so because of the "accumulated consequences of some 150 years of headlong economic development and industrial expansion." And it may be too late to reverse the trend. As he says, "We have crossed the threshold."

Little writes of all the things we already know and then some. He writes of the ozone producing smog in California that is reducing photosynthesis in the Pondersoa pine making the weakened tree susceptible to beetles and fungi.

And he writes of the acid rain that is producing a nutrient imbalance in the soils of the northeast, causing a reduction in the sugar maples' ability to take up water and phosphorous, making it susceptible to insect infestations.

He describes the fire suppression policies of the U.S. Forest Service and the logging activities of the private sector that have changed the composition oil the forests nationwide, making them susceptible to such pests as the spruce bud worm.

Little says his purpose in writing this book, the result of hundreds of interviews with scientific and government officials and private citizens, was to bring the death, decline and die back of trees in the United State into focus "so their implications both nationally and globally could be accurately and honestly assessed." That he has done. And he is profoundly disturbed with what he sees and hears.

He writes of scientists who believe "that the entire Eastern hardwood forest is dead ecologically, and that it can never mend itself aright because of leached out nutrients from acid deposition and the resultant ecosystem changes" and of trees "whose respiratory rates will surpass their rate of photosynthesis as a result of the greenhouse effect, so that, the trees will no longer be a net producer of oxygen, but a net producer of carbon dioxide." And he writes of ecologists who say that "the sugar maple will soon no longer grow within the borders of the United States,"

Little says he did not set out to write an "alarmist" book. But he admits he has. In his last chapter, which he has entitled "On Crossing the Threshold", he says he has learned thing he wished he had not learned; that he has learned that the trees are dying and that the more trees die, the more will die," And he ends saying he has learned that we have crossed the threshold and that he simply does "not know how we can get back safely to the other side." "Only the trees can save us," says Little, "for they are the threshold."

My ash trees are still in decline and like Little, I am in despair, joining my neighbors far and wide across this vast country wondering what is happening, to their trees, After you have read this book, you will no longer wonder. You will know.

- Reviewed by Jo Josephson.


The Trees in My Forest by Bernd Heinrich.

Hardcover, 256 pages. Published by Harpercollins,

October, 1997.

ISBN: 0060174463.

The soaring majesty of a virgin forest and the intertwined relationships of plant, animal and man are the subject of Bernd Heinrich's lyrical elegy. Heinrich has spent a lifetime observing the natural world, and now he shares his vast knowledge and reflections on the trees of the Northeast woods and the rhythms of their seasons.

From the DNA contained in an apple seed to the great choiring branches far beyond a young boy's reach, Heinrich explores a natural world in scientific and personal terms. Heinrich is a scientist, but his words speak with the power and subtle grace of a poet. He uses this gift, and his intimate knowledge of his 300 acres of Maine forest, to expose the forest's rhythms and in doing so, illustrates the vital but tenuous link among man, trees, birds, insects and all the creatures of the forest. Thanks to Bernd Heinrich, readers will finally see the forest and the trees.


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