Environmental Law

Our Book Club

We invite our Environmental Law Section (ELS) members to stay connected and inspired through our new ELS Book Club.  Our book selections below touch upon environmental law issues through a range of styles and topics.  We encourage you to pick up one or more of the selections below and start reading along with us!  Register for an online discussion below (even if you don’t finish the book).  Additional selections for 2020 will be announced soon.


Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 4pm

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
By: Elizabeth Kolbert (2014)

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In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply in formed, The Sixth Extinction sows us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes.


Thursday, December 17, 2020 at 4 pm

Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility
By: Dorceta E. Taylor (2014)

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Due to entrenched segregation and zoning ordinances that privilege wealthier communities, or because businesses have found the paths of least resistance, there are many hazardous waste and other toxic facilities in poor and minority neighborhoods.  In Toxic Communities, renowned environmental sociologist Dorceta E. Taylor examines the connections among residential segregation, zoning, and exposure to environmental hazards, and introduces essential new concepts and theories for understanding environmental racism.  Co-sponsored by the CLA Racial Justice Section. 


Thursday, January 21, 2020 at 4 pm

The Control of Nature
By: John McPhee (1989)

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The Control of Nature details the strategies and tactics in three places where people have been engaged in all-out battles with nature: Louisiana, Iceland, and Los Angeles

The Control of Nature is a collection of three essays, reporting three deep and engaging stories about our attempts to engineer our way out of the constraints nature imposes on us. McPhee’s writing blends a carefully-researched and lively mixture of historical and scientific facts, accounts of embedding with technologists and managers who are charged with “solving” the challenge of allowing people to live safely in harm’s way, and stories from the people who live with the resulting challenges and uncertainties. His three essays cover (1) the inevitably-flooding lower Mississippi River and the Army Corps’ efforts to contain it; (2) Southern California’s San Gabriel mountain foothills, where residents may not understand their vulnerability to wildfire and mudslides and the massive infrastructure that has been built to contain them , and (3) Icelandic efforts to deal with volcanic activity that threatens a crucial port.


Past Book Club Selections

  • Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson (1962) (discussed May 7, 2020)
  • The Snail Darter and the Dam, by Zygmunt J.B. Plater (2013) (discussed May 28, 2020 with the author)
  • That Wild Country: An Epic Journey through the Past, Present, and Future of America’s Public Lands (2017) (discussed June 18, 2020 with the author)
  • As Long As Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock, By: Dina Gilio-Whitaker (2019)(discussed July 9, 2020 with the author)
  • Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson (1992)(discussed July 20, 2020 with the author)
  • Epitaph for a Peach, by David Mas Masumoto (1995)(discussed August 20, 2020 with the author)
  • Erosion: Essays of Undoing, by Terry Tempest Williams (2017) (discussed September 17, 2020 with the author)
  • The Rule of Five: Making Climate History at the Supreme Court, by Richard Lazarus (discussed Sept 29, 2020 with the author, co-hosted by UC Davis)
  • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How the Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein (2017)(discussed October 15, 2020 with the author, co-sponsored by the CLA Racial Justice Section)

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