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Ecological Vignettes

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Fall 2002

- Karen Baker, Palmer LTER (PAL)

Eugene Odum, 1998. Ecological Vignettes: Ecological Approaches to Dealing with Human Predicaments, Harwood Academic Publishers, 269p.

Eugene Odum's 'Ecological Vignettes' brings to mind Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' in that it presents the particular along with some general ramifications. The book is divided into two parts with vignettes followed by more detailed essays that reference the scientific literature. The vignettes synthesize insights from a broad ecological career that has focused over the years on local as well as global systems with some sensitivity to political, economic, and social ramifications. The scaling of knowledge grounded by experience with watershed studies provides a much needed articulation about issues at the ecosphere level. Odum builds from a starting point, his determining factor, that the human population has reached the maximum carrying capacity of the earth as a whole. With a nontraditional, multi-tier presentation format, Odum invites and then supports participation from a broad audience by providing tools in the form of access to information in an approachable format. From the dark side of technology to the tyranny of small decisions, the book provides an often elusive bigger picture relevant to individual reflection as well as national action.