NEWT Book Club to Become Better Environmentalists

NEWT Book Club Continues for Two More Terms

As part of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, and under the leadership of Student Leadership Council members (DEI) Co-Chairs, Julianne Rolf and Joshua Samba, the NEWT book club has completed two more terms.  The group consisted of six book clubs, that allowed members to pick between three books each term. Continuing the same format as our first term, each book club is given approximately two months to read the book with a book club meeting at the end of the term to discuss key topics covered by their book. NEWT members who participated  enjoyed learning more about environmental justice and the impact of pollution on individuals and communities.

  • Term 2: November 1, 2021 – January 15, 2022
  • Term 3: February 1 – April 15, 2022

Dorceta Taylor

Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility, Dorceta Taylor

Toxic Communities by Dorceta Taylor is a carefully documented presentation of the history, complexities, and scholarship surrounding environmental racism and industrial pollution, and the communities that are impacted by them. She incorporates detailed case studies of pollution and toxic chemicals burdened disproportionately in low-income communities, communities of color, and Native American communities with theories and analysis of what leads to this inequity.

{Comments to the author}

Group’s favorite quotes from the book

  • “Two of the most controversial claims of the environmental justice movement (EJM) are the assertions that hazardous facilities are concentrated in minority and low-income communities in the United States and that those communities are exposed to inordinate amounts of environmental hazards.” pg. 1
  • “Understanding the impacts of hazardous facilities is not just a matter of assessing who is exposed to an environmental hazard or if a toxic facility is present in or absent from a particular neighborhood. It is also important to assess how hazardous the chemicals or facilities are.” pg 45
  • “Environmental justice (EJ) literature has focused heavily on a subset of corporate (siting, environmental degradation, and hazards) and government actions (regulation, enforcement, and hazardous site evaluation and remediation) but has paid little attention to a myriad of other factors that influence where minorities and low-income people live in cities and why they continue to inhabit those places.” pg 147
  • “Though many EJ studies explain the siting patterns of industrial facilities and exposure to hazards as being an outcome of segregation, these studies tend not to indicate what measure of segregation is being used to test the arguments. There is also a tendency in EJ studies to focus on White-Black segregation while ignoring other kinds of segregation.” pg 263

Women, the Environment and Sustainable Development, Rosi Braidotti, Ewa Charkiewicz, Sabine Hausler, and Saskia Wieringa

Women, the Environment and Sustainable Development by Rosi Braidotti, Ewa Charkiewicz, Sabine Hausler, and Saskia Wieringa provides a great framework for discussions on solving environmental issues. Despite this book being written in the 1990s, it is still completely relevant in the 2020s. Our book clubs appreciated the discussions on power dynamics between the global north and south, women and men, and sustainable livelihood and sustainable development. More importantly, we analyzed women’s unique relationship with nature and their role in protecting it.

{Comments to the author}

Group’s favorite quotes from the book

  • “Simone de Beauvoir observed 50 years ago that the price men pay for representing the universal is a kind of loss of embodiment; the price women pay, on the other hand, is a loss of subjectivity and the confinement to the body.” pg. 37
  • “In this era of crumbling certainties and dissolving identities, how can women assert the positivity of the difference that women can make, while recognizing the fragility of what we call ‘civilization’: a network of multiply differentiated, interacting subjects, functioning on a consensual basis?” pg 47
  • “Women’s empowerment is seen as a cost-effective strategy to achieve sustainable development, not as an end and itself – on women’s own terms” ph 145
  • “Overconsumption in the North is a far more important factor in environmental degradation than population numbers in the South. There is evidence in the North to support the view that population growth will slow down with increasing levels of development.” pg 145
  • There is a “need to dismantle patterns of domination on all levels…new proposals connect ecological sustainability with equity, participatory democracy, bottom-up direction of changes, and community scale development.” pg 160

Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, Sandra Steingraber

Sandra Steingraber blended impactful statistics with a vulnerable personal narrative. Her book emphasized the harmful effects of living in areas rife with contamination, especially for children and the elderly. As environmentalists, we must be conscious of the chemicals and waste we introduce to the environment, as well as the lives that will be impacted for generations after these chemicals are used.

{Comments to the author}

Group’s favorite quotes from the book

     “It is not my contention that chemical insecticides never be used, I do contend we have put poisonous and biologically potent chemicals indiscriminately into the hands of persons wholly ignorant of their potentials for harm.  We have subjected enormous numbers of people to contact with these poisons, without their consent and often without their knowledge.” pg. 8

     “All scientific work is incomplete—whether it be observational or experimental. All scientific work is liable to be upset or modified by advancing knowledge.  That does not confer upon us a freedom to ignore the knowledge we already have or postpone the action that it appears to demand at a given time.” pg. 283-284