Top 5: Alex Matthiessen

Riverkeeper Alex Matthiessen on his five must-read environmental books.



Looking to raise your green IQ? Check out these titles recom-mended by Hudson Riverkeeper and President of the Tarrytown-based Riverkeeper environmental advocacy group, Alex Matthiessen.


1. Power Trip, Amanda Little
Everyone should be reading this account of the author’s yearlong tour of the American energy landscape and our transition to a clean energy future, says Matthiessen. What makes it particularly noteworthy “is that in an era of polarization and vitriol, Little doesn’t demonize and stereotype the various people involved in producing or consuming our energy.”

 

2. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson
Even though it was first published close to 50 years ago, this seminal book is every bit
as relevant today, says Matthiessen, who recommends it as a good primer on ecological systems. “She paints a startling portrait of a world where the water and air that are supposed to sustain us have instead become vectors of poison.”

 


3. The Riverkeepers, John Cronin and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Matthiessen says this story of how a group of concerned citizens in the Hudson River Valley confronted the polluters who were desecrating the river helped to both ignite the modern environmental movement—and inspire Matthiessen to become the Hudson Riverkeeper. And unlike many other titles on the subject, “this well-written book takes the reader on an adventure full of characters, villains, and heroes.”

 


4. Bottlemania, Elizabeth Royte
Matthiessen calls this account of the creation of the $60 billion bottled-water industry and its negative impact on the environment incredible—and incredibly disturbing. “It illustrates the pernicious effects of mass marketing through which corporate giants have been able to create one of the most profitable businesses in the world selling a ‘product’ that is virtually free and very clean and safe.”


5. End of Nature, Bill McKibben
Matthiessen calls this book by preeminent nature writer Bill McKibben “one of the most elegiac books on the environment ever written.” Why? “It gets underneath the facts and figures,” says Matthiessen, “and by the now well-known story of climate change and begins to address the potential psychological impact on humans of having done such enormous damage to the only planet we have.”


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