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The American West at Risk - Book has named The American West at Risk, a new book by PEER Board Chair Howard Wilshire and others, among the top 10 in the Outdoors and Nature category.

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The American West at Risk summarizes the dominant human-generated environmental challenges in the 11 contiguous arid western United States - America's legendary, even mythical, frontier.

The west boasted rich soils, bountiful fisheries, immense, dense forests, sparkling streams, untapped ore deposits, and oil bonanzas. It now faces depletion of many of these resources, and potentially serious threats to its few "renewable" resources.

The idea that all life on earth is connected in a great chain of being, and that all life is connected to the physical earth in many obvious and subtle ways, is not some new-age fad, it is scientifically demonstrable. An understanding of earth processes, and the significance of their biological connections, is critical in shaping societal values so that national land use policies will conserve the earth and avoid the worst impacts of natural processes. These connections inevitably lead science into the murkier realms of political controversy and bureaucratic stasis. Most of the chapters in The American West at Risk focus on a human land use or activity that depletes resources and degrades environmental integrity of this resource-rich, but tender and slow-to-heal, western U.S.

The activities include forest clearing for many purposes; farming and grazing; mining for aggregate, metals, and other materials; energy extraction and use; military training and weapons manufacturing and testing; road and utility transmission corridors; recreation; urbanization; and disposing of the wastes generated by everything that we do. We focus on how our land-degrading activities are connected to natural earth processes, which act to accelerate and spread the damages we inflict on the land.


"The authors, using their broad and unchallengeable expertise, have produced a book that actively seeks out crises and battlegrounds where good science exists and needs to be applied, and civic policy lessons drawn. The book is a practical gift to civic society and to public interest advocates. It is one of those rare works written by people of science who - like Theo Colburn, Rachel Carson, and too few others - are impelled to be citizens as well as scientists." --Zygmunt J. B. Plater, Professor of Law at Boston College Law School and lead author of Environmental Law & Policy - Nature, Law & Society

"Wilshire, Nielson, and Hazlett show how rising human population and affluence amongst a citizenship with decreasing connections to nature have left indelible scars on the western landscape and beyond, as the Earth's natural resources and plant productivity have been tapped for human needs. Well referenced and written by some of the nation's most credentialed earth scientists, this book is simultaneously alarming, depressing, and hopeful that it is not too late to create a sustainable future for humankind." -- William H. Schlesinger, President, the Institute of Ecosystem Studies

"The American West at Risk emphasizes the need for genuine concern for our precious soils, freshwater, and other environmental resources. As the authors document, we should be making every effort to conserve and protect all our vital natural resources, which indeed support human life."--David Pimentel, Cornell University

"We Americans have adopted a 'use it, throw it away, and move on' attitude to just about everything that seemed to make sense in an era of geographic expansion and cheap energy. Now we've entered the resulting era of scarcity-of water, soil, energy, and more. Can the famously trend-setting West adapt quickly enough? Surely this clearly-written and timely book will help. Changing our land use practices is essential to the survival not just of endangered species, but of human civilization."--Richard Heinberg, author of The Party's Over and Peak Everything

"The west has been won, whipped and beat, and now must be healed. Here's a science-based guide to future hopes of health for the web of life, and avoiding past land management mistakes. The western economy and quality of life depend on our moving to sustainability, conservation, and restoration. This book is critical reading for anyone living or interested in the American West."--Daniel R. Patterson, Ecologist & Southwest Director, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility Tucson

"The American West at Risk is both a sobering read and a strong call to action. With its concise, engaging text and detailed references Howard Wilshire and company have produced an invaluable desk reference for public lands advocates."--Stephen Bloch, Staff Attorney, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

"What's truly valuable about this book is that the information that the authors distilled into it is so pertinent and relevant yet usually impossible to find in one place with such clarity and detail. The authors, deeply concerned about land abuse in the West, have taken the time and effort to put together this themed-reference guide that no one else has done. They did a 5-star job at it." -- Andrew Kishner

"This is a must-have book for conservationists, teachers and anyone who cares about understanding our impact on these rugged but fragile lands." -- Karen Schambach

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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