More free ebooks to fill your ereader with:
RX from the Garden by Kathleen Barnes (5 stars/1 review) Horticulture.
Becoming a Talent Champion: Refocusing Executives on the Five Talent Activities that Matter by Corporate Executive Board (no ratings) Business. Also free at Barnes & Noble and Kobo.
How to Make Money Marketing Your Business with Tumblr by Scott Bishop (4 stars/1 review) Business. Also free at Barnes & Noble.
* * *
Today was Earth Day, in honor of which Barnes & Noble is recommending The World Without Us by Alan Weisman ($9.99. In paper only at Amazon (4 stars/310 reviews; ebook at Kobo). The World Without Us is described by the NYT as a “morbidly fascinating nonfiction eco-thriller.” I read this book (well, actually I listened to the audiobook) last year and found it quite interesting. And scary.
To me, one of the most disturbing topics that Weisman writes about is plastics in the environment. He cites a research project in which an alarming percentage (I’m going by memory here — it was an audiobook and it is hard for me to go back and find the exact numbers and facts) of the “sand” on several British beaches tested was found to be not sand at all, but fine granules of plastic.
When plastics are discarded into the environment they don’t just dissolve. They just get broken down into smaller and smaller granules of plastic. As you are probably aware, when marine critters mistakenly eat bits of plastic they often die because the plastic creates a blockage in their digestive tract. There are also toxic effects associated with ingesting plastic.
We have been using plastics long enough now that the granules of plastic in the environment are approaching a size that is small enough to be ingested by plankton, which is at the base of the aquatic food chain. It isn’t really known what this will mean — will it cause a reduction in the amount of plankton or will the plastic particles just be passed up the food chain until we are eating it?
Should this be of concern? Well, I guess it depends on your point of view. If life on planet Earth is important, then yes, it should be of concern. On the other hand, from the cosmic, “big picture” point of view — you know. . . . insignificant speck of dust in the boonies of a no-account galaxy in an unremarkable corner of the universe — then it probably doesn’t matter so much.
I’m not trying to be self-righteous here — I use plastics in my business and home just like everyone else. I do try to reuse and recycle as much as possible, but as Weisman points out; even recycling plastics is not without cost to the environment. Our civilization is based on plastics and there is no going back.
Weisman also notes that many of the exfoliating scrubs on the market actually use tiny granules of plastic as an abrasive to buff your skin. Granules of plastic that are already just the right size for plankton food and that get washed down the drain and eventually into the ocean. This book is just chock-full of fun little tidbits like that.
Definitely not a feel-good sort of book, and one that is sure to be controversial to some. But as I said, it is darkly interesting. And scary.