“Nature is a language – can’t you read? Nature is a language – can’t anybody read?”
Morrissey & Marr: The Smiths, ‘Ask’ (1986) as played live in Tel Aviv last week.
We here at Green Prophet don’t often blow our own green shofar, but it’s always good to get praise from others, particularly when it’s in the national media. We were delighted last week to be described in a Ha’aretz books supplement book review as: “the useful (and, yes, hip) Israeli environmental blog in English.”
Thanks to the writer Daniel Orenstein, a postdoctoral fellow at the Technion and a faculty member of the Arava Institute, for that. Orenstein’s kind words came in the middle of a powerful review that blossomed into an overview of the burgeoning green revolution here in Israel: what the situation is, and what we as Individuals can do, as well as the politicians (see MK Dr. Dov Khenin’s plans for greening Tel Aviv sustainably here).
He ends his review, titled ‘What do we do now?’ with a punchy call for action from all of us, and emphasises the need for us to apply pressure to those with political clout:
“Greening should be a project we can all engage in. For this to be the case, we need legislation that will place the proper incentives on environmentally sound decisions, help people pay for the high up-front costs of energy efficiency, and make polluters pay for environmentally damaging activities. And for that, we need an abundance of genuine environmental advocates sitting in [the] Knesset whose concerns are for the long-term well-being of the land and people of Israel.”
Orenstein reviewed 3 so-called ‘self-help greening books’: ‘Wake up and smell the planet’ from Grist.com: ‘Ready, Set, Green’ by Treehugger.org founder Graham Hill and contributing writer Meghan O’Neill; and ‘Living Like Ed’, by Ed Begley. The three books give eco-tips and advice, backed up by the respective author’s experience.
“The Grist and Treehugger books reflect the ethos of an environmental movement that has undergone profound changes since its inception in the 1970s. Their authors take the cause seriously – as if the future of our lives on the planet depended on them – but they’ve swapped self-righteousness for self-mockery, and radicalism for professionalism. “Let’s face it,” as one author puts it, “tree-spiking and roadblocks are so 1987.”
Grist’s “Wake Up and Smell the Planet” is so thick with jokes, pop-references, sarcasm and puns, that it’s difficult to dig out the advice. Whereas the parent Web site is full of in-depth analysis of environmental dilemmas, the book generally lacks explanation for why we should follow its advice. But it is very, very funny and – somewhere between the puns – it does contain a lot of advice.
“So, this book is best read by the already environmentally converted who want to cut straight to what they should be doing. It features a consumption centerfold, advice on what to do with animal poop (Israelis should first remove it from the sidewalk, and then consider the other options), and an answer to whether a slice of lime in your beer bottle threatens its recyclability (it doesn’t). Overall, Grist’s focus gives the impression that, to paraphrase the Grateful Dead, we may be going to hell in a bucket, but at least we can enjoy the ride.”
He is charmed by Ed Begley’s book, describing him as:
“a man who walks the walk. Or if he doesn’t walk, he rides a bike.”
It is Begley’s book that shows the reviewer that in living green, we must live by example, and examine every aspect of our lifestyle. Orenstein uses his analysis of ‘Living like Ed’ to jump into an exploration of the Israeli psyche, and to highlight areas in which we could improve both the urban environment, as well as that of the whole. Composting, of which we at Green Prophet are also big advocates of, is one of his key suggestions for reducing our “garbage glut” and improving the land itself. Using the information, knowledge, experience and humour gleaned from these books, whether aimed at a Israeli market or not, can inspire us to make some great green changes in our lives, and in our communities. May the inspiration to act continue.
Read the Ha’aretz article here. Our thanks to Daniel Orenstein & book supplement editor David B. Green.
More in our Green Prophet ‘summer eco-reads festival’ coming soon. If you want more recommendations of green books to inspire and stimulate action, read these reviews: