For the most part, there are three kinds of environmental books being published today. The first offers scientific or engineering evidence in an effort to draw attention to a particular environmental phenomenon, like acidification of the ocean. The second offers an explanation, often in the form of a scholarly analysis, of why the problem, like air pollution or water pollution, is occurring and suggests why efforts to solve the problem have failed. Inevitably these analyses reflect the disciplinary biases of the authors (i.e., because we have failed to “get the price right, ” according to economists, we have not created adequate incentives to encourage investment in pollution control technology). The third kind of environmental book tells a story of a successful effort to do things in a more sustainable fashion or to solve a particular environmental problem. The story of an effort to deploy new offshore wind energy technology might be an example. The number of books in all three categories is growing.
Anthem’s Environment and Sustainability publishing initiative seeks to do something different. We are publishing books that combine description, analysis and prescription. Our audience is policy-makers or those in government, business and civil society who seek to influence policy and practice. They want to understand why and how certain problems have emerged and they want to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different ways of tackling problems. They want less advocacy and more analysis of options. We have chosen to focus on a series of recurrent problems faced by communities around the world, including how to manage transboundary waters, how to improve implementation of global environmental agreements, how to finance renewable energy projects and how to incorporate the science of climate change into policy-making. And we have selected three emerging themes: how to value ecosystem services and enable restoration of ecosystems that have been impaired; how to assess and manage the risks associated with natural resource management; and how to build a science of sustainable development. In each, we are looking for authors who can link descriptions of actual practice with multidisciplinary analysis of alternative policy prescriptions in ways that will be convincing to policymakers. We prefer manuscripts that take a global or comparative point of view.
We expect to blend books by well-established authors with the work of up-and-coming scholars. Some books may be aimed at libraries while others will be marketed to individuals. We are as open to electronic books as hardbound books. We are less interested in history and more concerned about what needs to happen in the future. While everything we produce will be peer-reviewed, we are committed to moving quickly so that we can catch the tide of public debate on the problems and themes listed above. It’s not easy to write in a way that is understandable to the lay public but also compelling to the relevant experts, but that is our goal. We are prepared to help authors condense complex research findings so that they are summarized in the books included in the AES publishing initiative, while lengthier methodological explanations and elaborate data sets are available online.
In addition, every month we will publish the Anthem EnviroExperts Review, an online set of micro-reviews and blog commentaries aimed at building a global community of practice. We seek to build a network of scholars, practitioners and policymakers seeking brief and reliable judgments on the wide range of environment and sustainability books being published regularly.
Lawrence Susskind, Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, MIT