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Michael Mehta Webster is an expert in ecology, conservation, philanthropy, and non-profit management expert and a Professor of Practice in the Department of Environmental Studies at New York University.   He has also led efforts to connect cutting-edge science to protecting species and ecosystems in the wild as the Executive Director of the Coral Reef Alliance, a Program Officer at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and an academic scientist at Cornell University and Oregon State University.  Webster earned a Ph.D. in Zoology at Oregon State University, and a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin. 
 
As temperatures rise to unsustainable heights and ecosystems buckle under the weight of climate change, it’s increasingly easy to succumb to paralysis. But, if we look at the world through a different lens, as Michael Mehta Webster suggests, we might find that when it comes to the earth’s durability there’s a lot to be optimistic about. Webster’s groundbreaking debut, The Rescue Effect (Timber Press, Oct 11, 2022), offers a powerful antidote to eco-anxiety—recasting the narrative of ecological decline as a continual process of adaptation and resilience.
 
In The Rescue Effect, Webster reveals that the natural world has a series of systems—rescue effects—that automatically activate to help organisms when their environment changes, “like a thermostat turning the air conditioning on when a room gets too warm, the rescue effect automatically turns on when a population is stressed or declining.” Through these systems, nature can independently save endangered species from extinction. These rescue effects are revealed in compelling stories of species that are adapting to the changing world—including tigers in the jungles of India, cichlid fish in the great rift lakes of Africa, and mountain pygmy-possums in the snowy mountaintops of southeastern Australia.
 
The Six Rescue Effects
  • Demographic Rescue: When new individuals immigrate to a small population of organisms to provide a numerical boost that prevents them from going extinct.
  • Reproductive Rescue: When the reproduction and survival rates of the group of organisms increase in uncrowded condi­tions, which increases the population size.
  • Genetic Rescue: When immigrants bring new genetic diversity to a small population, helping it overcome genetic disorders.
  • Phenotypic Rescue: When an organism adjusts its physiology, outward appearance, or behavior to cope successfully with changing environmental conditions.
  • Geographic Rescue: When a species successfully relocates to a new geographic location after environmental changes render its old location unsuitable.
  • Evolutionary Rescue: When organisms evolve, through survival of the fittest, to be able to persist under newly stressful conditions.
This does not mean humans can be passive. At the center of each story, people play a significant role—they must work in concert with nature to reverse climate change and save our planet. Webster combines rigorous research and gripping storytelling in The Rescue Effect, encouraging us all to confront our greatest challenge and find hope in nature itself.

 

All Creatures Safe and Sound
The Social Landscape of Pets in Disasters
Sarah E. DeYoung and Ashely K. Farmer

 

Publication Date: August 31, 2021
224 pages, 1 table, 10 halftones, 6 x 9"
Paper: 978-1-4399-1975-0 $34.95


Lessons from recent disasters on accounting for the safety of animals and humans alike


Some of the most striking news stories from natural disasters are of animals tied to trees or cats swimming through murky flood waters. Although the issue of evacuating pets has gained more attention in recent disasters, there are still many failures throughout local and national systems of managing pets and accommodating animals in emergencies.

 

All Creatures Safe and Sound: The Social Landscape of Pets in Disasters (Publication Date: August 31, 2021) is a comprehensive study of what goes wrong in our disaster response that shows how people can better manage pets in emergencies—from the household level to the large-scale, national level. Authors Sarah DeYoung and Ashley Farmer offer practical disaster preparedness tips while they address the social complexities that affect disaster management and animal rescue. They track the developments in the management of pets since Hurricane Katrina, including an analysis of the 2006 PETS Act, which dictates that animals should be included in hazard and disaster planning. Other chapters focus on policies in place for sheltering and evacuation, coalitions for animal welfare and the prevention of animal cruelty, organizational coordination, decision-making, preparedness, the role of social media in animal rescue and response, and how privilege and power shape disaster experiences and outcomes.

 

Using data they collected from seven major recent American disasters, ranging from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Florence to the Camp, Tubbs, and Carr Fires in California and the Hawaii Lava Flow, the authors provide insights about the successes and failures of animal care. All Creatures Safe and Sound also outlines what still needs to change to best prepare for the safety and welfare of pets, livestock, and other companion animals in times of crisis.

 

Sarah E. DeYoung is an Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware as a Core Faculty member for the Disaster Research Center and the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice and the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration.

Ashley K. Farmer is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Sciences at Illinois State University.