Atlas of the Environment

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9780062733146: Atlas of the Environment

Based on the data of the World Wildlife Fund, which has been tracking the changing environment for 27 years

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Last published in 1990 by Prentice Hall, this atlas aims "to be accessible to those with no previous background in the subject, while providing enough new information to be useful to the expert." This new edition reflects changes since the Earth Summit in 1992 and Agenda 21. Subjects range across the broad spectrum of environmental issues: demographics; social issues, including literacy rates and educational attainment; land issues, such as forests, wetlands, deserts, and rivers; pollution; wildlife; energy, especially nuclear and fossil fuels; food production; development; disasters; and much more.

Each chapter consists of a subject essay covering current problems, economic factors, projections, and possible solutions. In the middle of each essay is a two-page spread with graphics illustrating the points made. There are more than 200 impressive diagrams, maps, pie charts, graphs, and tables in vivid colors that are easy to read and interpret. Some maps have not changed at all since the earlier edition. Others show dramatic changes; for example, the 1990 edition listed Laos as having the fourth-highest percentage of population (72 percent) without access to safe drinking water. In the new edition that figure has dropped to 39 per cent, with Laos eighteenth. Maps in the endpapers reflect the new independent countries of the former Soviet Union. Information for each subject comes from the World Wildlife Fund, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Resources Institute, and similar organizations. Since abbreviations for these are used in the maps and diagrams, a list with full organization names would have been helpful. There is an extensive bibliography at the end of the book and an appendix, "Units and Conversion Tables," that enables readers to convert imperial to metric and centigrade to Fahrenheit; it also gives effects of radiation on humans measured in sieverts.

Comprehensive environmental atlases are are hard to find; however, many atlases on specific topics exist. Examples are The Last Rain Forests: A World Conservation Atlas (Oxford, 1990) and the series of popular Gaia atlases, for example, Gaia: An Atlas of Planet Management (Doubleday, 1993). The latter are colorful and contain essays on related subjects as well as graphs, photographs, and diagrams. They are particularly well suited for circulation in public and school libraries. Although the data in the Atlas of the Environment are not totally up to date, it is useful for studying trends and is the best affordable choice for reference collections in most libraries.

From Library Journal:

The third edition of this environmental atlas states that its purpose is to show the effect the human species has on nature rather than how nature effects humanity. Using tables and graphs to illustrate this theme, the work describes the state of the world's forests, wetlands, deserts, croplands, rivers, and seas. Each chapter is introduced by a brief narrative that chronicles the loss of the natural resource. By emphasizing conservation, the editors offer means of reversing these conditions. Attractive, clearly rendered color maps, graphs, tables, and charts make the data easy for the lay reader to understand and interpret. The information was obtained from the United Nations, World Bank, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund. Broader in scope than the Atlas of United States Environmental Issues (LJ 5/15/91), this excellent reference is accessible to those with no scientific background. Recommended for all libraries.
Eva Lautemann, DeKalb Coll. Lib., Clarkston, Ga.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Geoffrey Lean; Don Hinrichsen; World Wildlife Fund (U. S.)
Published by Harpercollins (1994)
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