Featured: An Appalachian Tragedy: Air Pollution and Tree Death

Communities in Crisis

Available from Amazon.com

“Communities in Crisis” is an essay that appeared in An Appalachian Tragedy: Air Pollution and Tree Death in the Eastern Forests of North America, Ed by Harvard Ayers, Jenny Hager, and Charles E. Litter with photographs by Jenny Hager. Sierra Club Books, 1998.

The assignment to write a biogeochemical essay that would entice people to read it was a tough one.  Yet the thought of the widespread distribution that a Sierra Club book can get, giving the topic of tree death from air pollution a huge bump, was very motivating.  And who wouldn’t want to read further in an article that begins with small, sleek creatures that live under rocks?  

An Appalachian Tragedy: Air Pollution and Tree Death in the Eastern Forests of North America


“The superb photos, supported by brief explanatory text, introduce each of the book’s five sections … The book’s strength lies in the editors’ vision. They go beyond merely documenting the devastation to trees and other plant life to illustrate the interdependency of forest ecology… [and] tell what happens to life forms from fungi to earthworms to panthers when, for example, the pH levels of water are lower than that of vinegar.”  – Dori DeSpain, School Library Journal

“From the moment you turn back the cover of this eloquent plea for action your understanding begins to grow. Pictures. Smokestacks. Skeletal trees. Power lines. Dying forests. And then the text: essays concerning the history, sociology, ecology and above all the beauty of our Eastern mountain forests… A heartrending plea for action.”  -Cecil Bothwell on Amazon.com   

“This book is about mountaintop removal in the pristine Appalachian mountains where I grew up. The coal industry is blasting the mountaintops off and scooping out the coal, shoving all the tops into the valleys and leaving the area desolate and ugly… This is a true book and amazing that they can get away with it.” -Margaret E. Oiler on Amazon.com