The Botany of Desire

A Plant's-Eye View of the World

Author: Michael Pollan

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 9781588360083

Category: Nature

Page: 304

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The book that helped make Michael Pollan, the New York Times bestselling author of Cooked and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, one of the most trusted food experts in America In 1637, one Dutchman paid as much for a single tulip bulb as the going price of a town house in Amsterdam. Three and a half centuries later, Amsterdam is once again the mecca for people who care passionately about one particular plant—though this time the obsessions revolves around the intoxicating effects of marijuana rather than the visual beauty of the tulip. How could flowers, of all things, become such objects of desire that they can drive men to financial ruin? In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan argues that the answer lies at the heart of the intimately reciprocal relationship between people and plants. In telling the stories of four familiar plant species that are deeply woven into the fabric of our lives, Pollan illustrates how they evolved to satisfy humankinds’s most basic yearnings—and by doing so made themselves indispensable. For, just as we’ve benefited from these plants, the plants, in the grand co-evolutionary scheme that Pollan evokes so brilliantly, have done well by us. The sweetness of apples, for example, induced the early Americans to spread the species, giving the tree a whole new continent in which to blossom. So who is really domesticating whom? Weaving fascinating anecdotes and accessible science into gorgeous prose, Pollan takes us on an absorbing journey that will change the way we think about our place in nature. From the Hardcover edition.
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The Dome of Eden

A New Solution to the Problem of Creation and Evolution

Author: Stephen H. Webb

Publisher: Wipf and Stock Publishers

ISBN: 1630874221

Category: Religion

Page: 374

View: 3152

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What would biology look like if it took the problem of natural evil seriously? This book argues that biological descriptions of evolution are inherently moral, just as the biblical story of creation has biological implications. A complete account of evolution will therefore require theological input. The Dome of Eden does not try to harmonize evolution and creation. Harmonizers typically begin with Darwinism and then try to add just enough religion to make evolution more palatable, or they begin with Genesis and pry open the creation account just wide enough to let in a little bit of evolution. By contrast, Stephen Webb provides a theory of how evolution and theology fit together, and he argues that this kind of theory is required by the internal demands of both theology and biology. The Dome of Eden also develops a theological account of evolution that is distinct from the intelligent design movement. Webb shows how intelligent design properly discerns the inescapable dimension of purpose in nature but, like Darwinism itself, fails to make sense of the problem of natural evil. Finally, this book draws on the work of Karl Barth to advance a new reading of the Genesis narrative and the theology of Duns Scotus to provide the necessary metaphysical foundation for evolutionary thought.
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States of Emergency

The Object of American Studies

Author: Russ Castronovo,Susan Kay Gillman

Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press

ISBN: 0807833401

Category: Education

Page: 203

View: 4577

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The contributors to this volume argue that for too long, inclusiveness has substituted for methodology in American studies scholarship. The ten original essays collected here call for a robust comparativism that is attuned theoretically to questions of bo
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Cured, Smoked, and Fermented

Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cooking, 2010

Author: Helen Saberi

Publisher: Oxford Symposium

ISBN: 1903018854

Category: Cooking

Page: 392

View: 4889

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Essays on cured, smoked, and fermented foods from the Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cooking, 2010.
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Humans in Nature

The World As We Find It and the World As We Create It

Author: Gregory E. Kaebnick

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199347239

Category: Medical

Page: 272

View: 1844

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Contemporary debates over issues as wide-ranging as the protection of wildernesses and endangered species, the spread of genetically modified organisms, the emergence of synthetic biology, and the advance of human enhancement, all of which seem to spin into deeper and more baffling questions with every change in the news cycle, often circle back to the same fundamental question: should there be limits to the human alteration of the natural world? A growing number of people view the human capacity to alter natural states of affairs -- from formerly wild spaces and things around us to crops and livestock to our own human nature -- as cause for moral alarm. That reaction raises a number of perplexing philosophical questions, however: Can we identify "natural" states of affairs at all? Does the idea of being morally concerned about the human relationship to nature make any sense? Should such a concern influence public policy and politics, or should government stay strenuously neutral on such matters? Through a study of moral debates about the environment, agricultural biotechnology, synthetic biology, and human enhancement, Gregory E. Kaebnick, a research scholar at The Hastings Center and editor of the Hastings Center Report, argues that concerns about the human alteration of nature can be legitimate and serious, but also that they are complex, contestable, and of limited political force. Kaebnick defends attempts to identify "natural" states of affairs by disentangling the nature/artifact distinction from metaphysical hoariness. Drawing on David Hume, he also defends moral standards for the human relationship to nature, arguing that they, and moral standards generally, should be understood as grounded in what Hume called the "passions." Yet what counts as "natural" can be delineated only roughly, he concludes, and moral standards for interaction with nature are less a matter of obligation than of ideals. Kaebnick also concludes, drawing on an interpretation of the liberal principle of neutrality, that government may support those standards but must be careful not to enforce them. Thus Kaebnick looks for a middle way on debates that have tended toward polarization. "As differences between nature and artifact become steadily less substantial, problems about preservation run to the core of how people can make sense of themselves, of each other, and of our shared world. Kaebnick's solutions are creative and compelling, theoretically elegant and politically practical. Providing distinctive ways forward, when much academic and policy discussion seems exhausted, his book demands wide attention. In return, it inspires hope." - James Nelson, Michigan State University
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Toxic Archipelago

A History of Industrial Disease in Japan

Author: Brett L. Walker

Publisher: University of Washington Press

ISBN: 0295803010

Category: History

Page: 352

View: 9834

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Every person on the planet is entangled in a web of ecological relationships that link farms and factories with human consumers. Our lives depend on these relationships -- and are imperiled by them as well. Nowhere is this truer than on the Japanese archipelago. During the nineteenth century, Japan saw the rise of Homo sapiens industrialis, a new breed of human transformed by an engineered, industrialized, and poisonous environment. Toxins moved freely from mines, factory sites, and rice paddies into human bodies. Toxic Archipelago explores how toxic pollution works its way into porous human bodies and brings unimaginable pain to some of them. Brett Walker examines startling case studies of industrial toxins that know no boundaries: deaths from insecticide contaminations; poisonings from copper, zinc, and lead mining; congenital deformities from methylmercury factory effluents; and lung diseases from sulfur dioxide and asbestos. This powerful, probing book demonstrates how the Japanese archipelago has become industrialized over the last two hundred years -- and how people and the environment have suffered as a consequence.
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Darwin's Pharmacy

Sex, Plants, and the Evolution of the Noosphere

Author: Richard M. Doyle

Publisher: University of Washington Press

ISBN: 0295803002

Category: Science

Page: 336

View: 2021

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Are humans unwitting partners in evolution with psychedelic plants? Darwin�s Pharmacy shows they are by weaving the evolutionary theory of sexual selection and the study of rhetoric together with the science and literature of psychedelic drugs. Long suppressed as components of the human tool kit, psychedelic plants can be usefully modeled as �eloquence adjuncts� that intensify a crucial component of sexual selection in humans: discourse. Psychedelic plants seduce us to interact with them, building an ongoing interdependence: rhetoric as evolutionary mechanism. In doing so, they engage our awareness of the noosphere, or thinking stratum of the earth. The realization that the human organism is part of an interconnected ecosystem is an apprehension of immanence that could ultimately benefit the planet and its inhabitants. To explore the rhetoric of the psychedelic experience and its significance to evolution, Doyle takes his readers on an epic journey through the writings of William Burroughs and Kary Mullis, the work of ethnobotanists and anthropologists, and anonymous trip reports. The results offer surprising insights into evolutionary theory, the war on drugs, the internet, and the nature of human consciousness itself. Watch the book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xof-t2cAob4
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Time and Complexity in Historical Ecology

Studies in the Neotropical Lowlands

Author: William L. Balée,Clark L. Erickson

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN: 0231509618

Category: Science

Page: 432

View: 8319

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This collection of studies by anthropologists, botanists, ecologists, and biologists is an important contribution to the emerging field of historical ecology. The book combines cutting-edge research with new perspectives to emphasize the close relationship between humans and their natural environment. Contributors examine how alterations in the natural world mirror human cultures, societies, and languages. Treating the landscape like a text, these researchers decipher patterns and meaning in the Ecuadorian Andes, Amazonia, the desert coast of Peru, and other regions in the neotropics. They show how local peoples have changed the landscape over time to fit their needs by managing and modifying species diversity, enhancing landscape heterogeneity, and controlling ecological disturbance. In turn, the environment itself becomes a form of architecture rich with historical and archaeological significance. Time and Complexity in Historical Ecology explores thousands of years of ecological history while also addressing important contemporary issues, such as biodiversity and genetic variation and change. Engagingly written and expertly researched, this book introduces and exemplifies a unique method for better understanding the link between humans and the biosphere.
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The Pecan

A History of America's Native Nut

Author: James McWilliams

Publisher: University of Texas Press

ISBN: 0292753918

Category: Nature

Page: 192

View: 6370

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What would Thanksgiving be without pecan pie? New Orleans without pecan pralines? Southern cooks would have to hang up their aprons without America’s native nut, whose popularity has spread far beyond the tree’s natural home. But as familiar as the pecan is, most people don’t know the fascinating story of how native pecan trees fed Americans for thousands of years until the nut was “improved” a little more than a century ago—and why that rapid domestication actually threatens the pecan’s long-term future. In The Pecan, acclaimed writer and historian James McWilliams explores the history of America’s most important commercial nut. He describes how essential the pecan was for Native Americans—by some calculations, an average pecan harvest had the food value of nearly 150,000 bison. McWilliams explains that, because of its natural edibility, abundance, and ease of harvesting, the pecan was left in its natural state longer than any other commercial fruit or nut crop in America. Yet once the process of “improvement” began, it took less than a century for the pecan to be almost totally domesticated. Today, more than 300 million pounds of pecans are produced every year in the United States—and as much as half of that total might be exported to China, which has fallen in love with America’s native nut. McWilliams also warns that, as ubiquitous as the pecan has become, it is vulnerable to a “perfect storm” of economic threats and ecological disasters that could wipe it out within a generation. This lively history suggests why the pecan deserves to be recognized as a true American heirloom.
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