America's Environmental Report Card: Are We Making the Grade?

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"America's Environmental Report Card offers answers to some of our most pressing environmental questions providing a timely reminder of what we need to accomplish to achieve a sustainable environment. It lays out the scientific facts about water and air pollution, energy, global warming, and the ozone layer in a lively, conversational style, enhanced by illustrations, and charts a course of action for protecting the environment." America's Environmental Report Card focuses on the environmental issues that polls show are most important to Americans today.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Frank but hopeful, serious but readable, this is an excellent environmental science primer." Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Nostalgia for a lost natural world and/or ire at industry waste and government failures inform many a book about the environment, but Blatt examines the world's most pressing environmental problems in a balanced, learned tone. A longtime geology professor currently teaching in Israel, Blatt breaks down environmental issues into their components, describing different aspects of the problem, offering solutions and suggesting a prognosis. When it comes to America's attempts to decrease air pollution and protect the ozone layer, Blatt gives surprisingly good grades (A and A-). The world's rapid response to the ozone problem, he says, "is a fine example of what can be accomplished when cooperation prevails among nations." But from failing to ratify the Kyoto Treaty to failing to discourage suburban sprawl (which means, among other things, longer drive times and larger, more energy-inefficient houses), Americans aren't doing enough to stop global warning, he says. We should practice better private conservation-e.g., use shower heads that save water-but what's required is systemic change. Frank but hopeful, serious but readable, this is an excellent environmental science primer. (Dec.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262025720
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2004
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Harvey Blatt is the author of America's Environmental Report Card: Are We Making the Grade? (MIT Press). He taught geology at the University of Houston and the University of Oklahoma for many years and is now Professor of Geology at the Institute of Earth Sciences at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Table of Contents

1 Water : is there enough and is it drinkable? 1
2 Floods : too much water 33
3 Garbage : the smelly mountain 51
4 Soil, crops, and food 71
5 Energy supplies 95
6 Global warming : the climate is changing 127
7 Air pollution and your lungs 155
8 Skin cancer and the ozone hole 177
9 Nuclear-waste disposal : not in my backyard 195
10 Conclusion 219
App. A Sustainable energy coalition 239
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2005

    An uncommonly accessible, entertaining environmental reader

    This book is a real surprise! Dr. Harvey Blatt¿s ¿America¿s Environmental Report Card¿ (AERC) sounds heavy, but it is crisply written, entertaining, and loaded with quotable facts. It is well-researched and I was repeatedly startled by its revelations. Blatt is a fine storyteller who cannot resist humor and puns (from good to groaners). Blatt presents his distillation of America¿s environmental performance as a report card: we get a lackluster ¿C¿ average overall, from a healthy ¿A¿ in ozone mitigation to a ¿D¿ for energy conservation and a ¿D¿ for global warming. AERC bristles with hundreds of facts, such as: Half of Americans distrust tap water and thus drink bottled water (even though 25% of bottled water IS tap water that costs 120 to 7500 times more, suckers!) 16% of Washington, DC¿s water pipes are toxic lead metal (explains Congressional behavior?) Oil supplies about 40% of U.S. energy, but our declining production means we import 60% of it, and drilling in Alaska would make a difference for only 6 months. To create your 16-ounce sirloin, a cow donated not only its life but 53 pounds of manure-urine blend that polluted a stream. A few inches of dirt is all the separates us from mass starvation, and our agricultural soil is fast-eroding. America produces 25% of Earth¿s food, but consumes so much of it that a casket maker now offers a triple-wide coffin. If all the planet¿s ice sheets melt, FL, LA, NJ, DE, CT, RI, and MA will be completely submerged, and half of the Carolinas, and most major coastal cities. Enjoying second-hand smoke indoors, with its 4,000 chemicals and 40 carcinogens, increases your risk of heart disease 20-70%. Remember Chernobyl? Now-bankrupt Belarus, which received 70% of the radiation, has over 50,000 children with thyroid cancers, & spends 25% of its budget alleviating Chernobyl¿s after effects. We are wired to confront immediate threats like spilled gasoline, snarling dogs, and armed robbers. But we respond sluggishly to abstract, remote-seeming hazards like hurricanes & earthquakes, toxic waste & landfills, pollution & erosion, global warming & energy shortage, floods & droughts. It¿s tough for scientists to make voters and politicians listen, or for teachers to educate students about our fragile environment, or for Americans to change our lifestyles. But among Blatt¿s many nifty quotes is the insightful Lakota Sioux proverb: ¿We didn¿t inherit this land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.¿ Blatt takes no side, liberal or conservative he simply presents the facts, colorfully. AERC¿s many graphics, maps, and pithy quotes make great slides and handouts for teaching and meetings. AERC is so accessibly written that it forms a broadly versatile primer for everyone: teachers and students (AERC is an engaging reader for an environment or ecology course), leaders, businesspeople, attorneys, politicians, naturalists, activists, health & safety people, scientists, academics. It¿s a great read and reference. You¿ll leave America¿s Environmental Report Card with a solid perspective and new appreciation for our planet and what we are doing to it.

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