Explores the Southeast’s imperiled river systems and solutions for preserving them in the face of habitat loss, climate change, and extinction
Southern Rivers, by award-winning nature writer and biologist R. Scot Duncan, is a thoroughly crafted exploration of the perilous state of the Southeast’s rivers and the urgent need to safeguard their vitality. The region’s rivers are the epicenter of North American freshwater biodiversity and are the top global hotspot for important aquatic animals including mussels, turtles, snails, crayfish, and fish, many of which have made important contributions to southern life and culture.
Centuries of commercial development have impaired the region’s river systems, sacrificing biodiversity and compromising the rivers’ ability to provide resources essential to human life: drinking water, waste disposal, irrigation, navigation, recreation, power production, and more. Now, increased heat and drought caused by climate change are lowering water levels. As such threats increase, it may seem necessary to choose between nature conservation and human needs, but Duncan persuasively demonstrates that this is a false choice. Conservation enhances human life.
In the same engaging voice of an expert friend that won over thousands of readers of his earlier book, Southern Wonder: Alabama’s Surprising Biodiversity, Duncan explains the task of managing southeastern rivers and how river water quality affects the daily lives of the millions who hold these historic waterways dear. He shows how managing rivers wisely can meet the needs of biodiversity and humanity both. With Americans increasingly anxious about the onset of climate change and the accelerating extinction crisis, Southern Rivers illuminates actionable solutions.
R. Scot Duncan is a biologist and executive director of Alabama Audubon. He is author of Southern Wonder: Alabama’s Surprising Biodiversity, winner of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s 2014 Phil Reed Environmental Writing Award, and the Southeastern Library Association’s 2013 Overall Excellence: Hard Cover Award.
“R. Scot Duncan’s [Southern Rivers: Restoring America’s Freshwater Biodiversity] is an excellent and original synthesis of the Southeast’s water marvels, problems, threats, and solutions. Duncan provides a personalized meta-meditation on the region’s rivers and coastlines in a rich context anchored in biological diversity and human history.” —Chris Manganiello, author of Southern Water, Southern Power: How the Politics of Cheap Energy and Water Scarcity Shaped a Region
“Duncan pulls us in to his fold with an engaging first-person writing style, not an easy task with such a deep trove of scientific, political, cultural, and historical information.” —James B. McClintock, author of A Naturalist Goes Fishing: Casting in Fragile Waters from the Gulf of Mexico to New Zealand’s South Island; Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land; and The Diversity of Invertebrates: Gulf of Mexico edition
“The rivers of the southeastern United States, with their remarkable diversity of life, are among Earth’s greatest gifts. Duncan makes an eloquent and compelling case for why we need to save them – and how we can do it. Southern Rivers imbues us with honest hope for a future where humanity and healthy rivers can thrive side-by-side. The question is, will we take action in time? —Sandra Postel, author of Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity