UW News

September 2, 2020

UW Books: Climate change meets restoration science in ‘Anticipating Future Environments’; ‘Building Reuse’ in paperback — and Anu Taranath’s ‘Beyond Guilt Trips’ named a Washington State Book Award finalist

UW News

Recent news about University of Washington-authored books includes a UW Press book about salmon habitat restoration amid climate change and a paperback edition of a book on the benefits of building reuse. Also, “Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World” by Anu Taranath is named a Washington State Book Award finalist.

Climate change and adaptive restoration explored in ‘Anticipating Future Environments’

How do climate change and its symptoms — drought, wildfire, flooding, extreme weather — affect the daily work of scientists involved with ecological restoration?

Shana Lee Hirsch, a research scientist with the University of Washington Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, looks for answers to this in a new book published in July by UW Press. “Anticipating Future Environments: Climate Change, Adaptive Restoration, and the Columbia River Basin” tells of past and present salmon habitat restoration science in the Columbia Basin.

“Ecological restoration is often premised on the idea of returning a region to an earlier, healthier state,” Hirsch writes. “Yet the effects of climate change undercut that premise and challenge the ways scientists can work, destabilizing the idea of ‘normalcy’ and revealing the politics that shape what scientists can do. How can the practice of ecological restoration shift to anticipate an increasingly dynamic future? And how does a scientific field itself adapt to climate change?”

David Montgomery, UW professor of Earth and space sciences and author of several books, praised the new work: “In this hard look at how to restore an ecosystem that is changing our from under you, Hirsch reinforces the message that good science is not enough.”

UW Notebook asked Hirsch a few questions about the book and its topic.

How did the book come about?

Shana Lee Hirsch: I was researching water management in the Columbia River Basin and I was really struck by the complex and overwhelming issues that people are facing in terms of, not only managing water, but in sustaining livelihoods, and all of the life that depends on the river. When climate change is piled on top of that, the issues are magnified.

Book "Anticipating Future Environments" QA with author Shana Lee Hirsch

Shana Lee Hirsch

But what really stood out to me was the way that people didn’t give up — they just kept on working through all of these complexities, restoring the river and finding creative ways to adapt. I wanted to understand what people, and particularly restoration scientists and practitioners were doing differently in light of climate change. How were they adapting their science, and their work, to deal with a climate-changed river system?

Who is the book’s intended audience?

S.L.H: It is an academic book, but tried to write it in a way that is accessible to a broader audience of people who are generally interested in environmental management or restoration of salmon habitat, especially in the Pacific Northwest.

What do you hope readers take away from the book?

S.L.H: I hope that readers will be inspired by what the restorationist community is doing to ensure that salmon continue to survive in the Columbia River Basin. Despite all of the devastation that salmon populations have suffered from development, and now climate change, the salmon and the people are not giving up. There is simply too much to lose.

Climate change should not overwhelm and stifle us to inaction, it should spur us to action and hope. The restorationists in this book can serve as an inspiration in this regard.

For more information, contact Hirsch at slhirsch@uw.edu or visit her personal website.

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In other UW book news:

Stay the wrecking ball: ‘Building Reuse’ out in paperback

UW associate professor of architecture Kathryn Rogers Merlino argues for the environmental benefits of reusing buildings instead of tearing them down in her 2018 book “Building Reuse: Sustainability, Preservation, and the Value of Design.” UW Press published a paperback edition of the book in August.

Tearing down buildings and “throwing away the energy and materials embodied in them” is contrary to the values of sustainable builders and environmental stewards, Merlino told UW News in 2018. “I’m not arguing that all buildings are worthy of preservation and reuse, but I think a change in discourse is necessary.”

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Anu Taranath’s ‘Beyond Guilt Trips’ a Washington State Book Award finalist

The Washington Center for the Book has named “Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World” by Anu Taranath a finalist for a 2020 Washington Book Award in the general nonfiction category. Taranath is a principal lecturer in the departments of English and the Comparative History of Ideas.

“Many of us want to connect with people unlike us, and we know that’s a good thing — it’s good for our democracy, good for our souls, good for our communities,” Taranath told UW News in 2019. “But we’re also not sure how to do so, because of the persistent inequities in race, economics and global positioning. And having good intentions and knowing how to connect are two different things.”

The book also was on Oprah Magazine’s list of best travel books and the Fodor’s Travel list of books to inspire travel, and received an award from the booksellers’ publication Foreword Reviews.

The Washington Book Awards finalists were announced on Aug. 21, and the winners will be named on Sept. 25.