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Owen Lloyd has commented on (5) products.

Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, Revised and Updated Edition by Andrew Nikiforuk
Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, Revised and Updated Edition

Owen Lloyd, January 28, 2012

A thorough examination of the consequences of the tar sands project in Alberta. The author looks at this situation from a number of angles, including the project's water and methane usage, the wasting of the Athabascan watershed and millions of acres of boreal forest, the ruinous air quality in the area where the bitumen is refined, the devastation of community and economy in the area surrounding Fort McMurray, the contribution dirty oil makes to climate change, the possibility of nuclear reactors being used simply to help power the project, the failure of the project to benefit the citizens of Alberta, the redirection of the oil itself to the United States, and the growing "Saudi Arabization" of Canada and particularly of Alberta.

My biggest complaint with the book is that the author all but ignored making any consideration for the Dene people, whose ancestral land is being turned into a moonscape in the name of "energy security". I also disliked the author's nonsensical belief that driving less is an effective means of helping to halt the tar sands project. As a non-driver, I do not believe this. I can understand a corporation using the "It's up to individual consumers to change things" remedy to social and environmental ills, but it's depressing to hear it come from the social and environmental activists themselves.
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Mischief in the Forest: A Yarn Yarn (Flashpoint Press) by Derrick Jensen
Mischief in the Forest: A Yarn Yarn (Flashpoint Press)

Owen Lloyd, January 28, 2012

Mischief in the Forest is a charming little picture book about a lonely grandmother who learns to come home to the forest around her. It is a book that encourages children to start friendships in the world around them, whether they live in a city, a desert, a forest, or a field.

It is simultaneously touching, sweet, and silly, and beautifully illustrated by Stephanie McMillan.
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Exterminate All the Brutes: One Man's Odyssey Into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide by Sven Lindqvist
Exterminate All the Brutes: One Man's Odyssey Into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide

Owen Lloyd, January 28, 2012

The author of this books helps us to understand that the Holocaust was no unique event. The extermination of the "lower races" to provide lebensraum for the "higher" was old hat by the 1930s. That this particular event happened in Germany was not surprising because it was a very late player in the colonial game and felt it had to assert itself somewhere to prove itself a nation of the higher races. With British navy controlling the seas and most of the best parts of the world already divvied up between the European powers, colonization at home seemed a practical choice. And a shocking choice to the other colonial powers only because it was so close to home.
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(2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality by Richard Heinberg
The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality

Owen Lloyd, September 29, 2011

As a person, I generally like Richard Heinberg, and wanted to like his book. But often I found myself infuriated reading this. The book itself has a textbook-like sterility to it, with many infoboxes and charts giving more specific detail on certain topics. And the writing feels robotic, as if written from the perspective of an alien from another world looking impersonally down on the world. Beyond that the language is clearly calculated to avoid alienating the typical middle class reader. It seems clear that Heinberg deliberately skewers the strength of his own expertise in order to keep people from panicking.

For instance, the thesis of the book, as the title suggests, is that economic growth has come to an end. Although one might assume that means the economy is headed towards a decline, he studiously avoids saying this in any clear terms. He actually seems to try to comfort his readers by suggesting that we can manage something of a steady-state economy, if one with a different series of assumptions and values than the current systems. He neglects to consider that what we're actually looking at is an economic crash of unprecedented speed and magnitude, in spite of the consistency of this idea with his own research.

But where Heinberg frustrates me the most is when, after noting a few of the ways in which our way of life is killing the planet, he writes:

"Declining oxygen levels, acidifying oceans, disappearing species, threatened oceanic food chains, changing climate-- when considering planetary changes of this magnitude, it may seem that the end of economic growth is hardly the worst of humanity's current problems. However, it is important to remember that we are counting on growth to enable us to solve or respond to environmental crises. With economic growth, we have surplus money with which to protect rainforests, save endangered species, and clean up after industrial accidents. Without economic growth, we are increasingly defenseless against environmental disasters-- many of which paradoxically result from growth itself." He goes on to say that "the end of economic growth cannot be counted on to solve the environmental problems that growth has previously generated".

The first absurdity to strike me in the above passage is when the author says that "we are counting on growth" to solve our environmental crises. I don't know about Richard, but I'm certainly not counting on growth to solve anything. And although some people absolutely do believe this, that is largely because people are heavily invested in this system, and believe they can destroy the planet and live on it, too. Also, Heinberg tactfully ignores that far more capital is used to destroy rainforests, kill endangered species, and cause industrial disasters than to solve them. If we genuinely want to stop these disasters, we're going to need to reduce the power of capital, and reduce our total energy usage, by whatever means necessary. As for his statement that we cannot count on the end of growth to solve our environmental problems, this is true. The problem is too dire to count on any proposed solution. That's exactly why we need to do everything we possibly can as soon as we possibly can. Bringing fossil fuel economies to a dead stop, ending deforestation, and restoring prairies and wetlands will not absolutely, without a doubt, stop climate change from becoming runaway and devastating the planet's biosphere, but it sure sounds a far more reasonable avenue than hoping some magical technological solution will come along if we just hold our breath long enough. Certainly, the author tactfully avoids making any effort to show how his own proposals will help to prevent environmental calamities, let alone to proactively solve them.
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(6 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)

Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence by Geoffrey Canada
Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence

Owen Lloyd, July 19, 2011

A very interesting and informative look into the life of a child who grew up in The Bronx during the 1950s and 1960s. The author gives us a picture of what it was like to be a boy living in the ghetto, and the ways that boys adapted to an environment of intense violence.

Beyond all of this it's an entertaining read, depressing as it might be at times. The illustrations are rather good, and lend the story another level of depth. Kudos to whoever recognized this story would benefit from such a conversion.

I have only a couple complaints. First, that the author didn't really talk about what life was like for GIRLS in the ghetto. Although I realize the author himself was a boy with no sisters, I think he'd still have some insight into the sort of violence girls experienced during his childhood. Second, I wish the book was longer, or did a better job explaining how he escaped the culture of violence and became the man he is today.

But on the whole, this is a great work, and highly recommended for anyone trying to make sense of life in the ghetto or understand the history of gang violence.
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