April 01, 2020

Literary Resources

Reviewed by Madeline June Kass


A Better Planet: 40 Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future

Daniel C. Esty, Editor

Yale University Press, 2019

A Better Planet: 40 Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future contains forty essays offering “innovative suggestions on which America and the world might build over the next several decades in reimagining the response to pollution, land use, natural resource management, and energy challenges.” The compilation, according to the book’s editor Daniel Esty, is designed to serve as “a starting point for reexamining our environmental strategies and the policy trade-offs that need to be made” and to lay “the groundwork for an important debate” that the authors hope readers will join.

In one of my favorite essays from the book, Dr. Thomas RaShad Easley describes ideas for moving toward greater diversity in environmental communication. To address the not infrequent problem of underrepresentation of people of color in conversations about environmental issues—“the disproportionately white ‘green insiders’ club’”—Easley asserts “we need to rethink how we communicate about the environment. We should use more diverse communications modes, styles, and interests to get a more complete set of individuals and groups engaged in conversations about climate change, pollution, food, water, toxic exposures, and other important issues.” Toward this end, Easley introduces readers to hip-hop sustainability, a communication method that relies on hip-hop to help bring together communities that care about the planet but don’t often connect. Here are some lyrics from his song “Hip Hop Forestry” that address culture and academics and instruction on planetary impacts:

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