Five important books on famines and world hunger, on Ebola and other deadly epidemics that spread from animals to people, and on the pesticide poisons in our food.
Ecosocialist Bookshelf is an occasional feature. We can’t review every book we receive, but we will list and link to any that seem relevant to Climate & Capitalism’s mission, along with brief descriptions. Titles listed here may be reviewed in future.
Please note: Inclusion of a book does not imply endorsement, or that we agree with everything (or even anything!) the book says.
The History and Future of Famine
by Alex de Waal
Polity Books, 2017
An authoritative history of modern famines: their causes, dimensions and why they ended. De Waal analyses starvation as a crime, and breaks new ground in examining forced starvation as an instrument of genocide and war. Refuting the enduring but erroneous view that attributes famine to overpopulation and natural disaster, he shows how political decision or political failing is an essential element in every famine.
BEGINNING TO END HUNGER
Food and the Environment in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and Beyond
by M. Jahi Chappell
University of California Press, 2018
Belo Horizonte is home to 2.5 million people and the site of one of the world’s most successful food security programs. Since 1993, it has sharply reduced malnutrition, leading it to serve as an inspiration for Brazil’s Zero Hunger programs. The secretariat’s work with local family farmers shows how food security, rural livelihoods, and healthy ecosystems can be supported together.
Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic
by David Quammen
W.W. Norton, 2012
Ebola, SARS, Hendra, AIDS, and countless other deadly viruses all have one thing in common: the bugs that transmit these diseases all originate in wild animals and pass to humans by a process called spillover. David Quammen takes the reader along on a quest to learn how, where from, and why these diseases emerge and asks the terrifying question: What might the next big one be?
How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic
by Paul Richards
Zed Books, 2016
Paul Richards argues that the international community’s panicky response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa failed to take account of local expertise and common sense. He says the humanitarian response to the disease was most effective in those areas where it supported these initiatives and that it hampered recovery when it ignored or disregarded local knowledge.
POISONING OUR CHILDREN
The Parent’s Guide to the Myths of Safe Pesticides
by Andre Leu
Acres USA, 2018
Pesticide residues are found in 77 percent of all foods in the United States, so it’s important to know what science says about their safety. Organic agriculturist André Leu has weeded through a wealth of respected scientific journals to present peer-reviewed evidence proving that the claims of chemical companies and pesticide regulators are not all they seem.
While visiting the Karl Marx museum in Trier, Germany; run by the Social Democratic Party, in 1978, I obtained a book written by a member of the SPD left, Werner Plum, entitled ‘Industrialisation and Mass Poverty: Notes from Two Centuries of Debate’. The book is broadly Marxist, and was obviously in contradiction ideologically with the SPD’s political trajectory since the adoption of the Bad Godesburg programme several decades earlier. Poverty and famine are, in this text, attributed to capitalism, and the solution to these problems afflicting humanity are seen in terms of the struggle for global socialism.