New Book by Pitzer Alumnus and Environmental Historian Char Miller ’75 Examines Sustainability in California

not-so-golden-state-coverClaremont, Calif. (September 26, 2016)Pitzer College alumnus Char Miller ’75 digs deep into California’s environmental history and the dark side of the sunny state’s ecology in his new book, Not So Golden State: Sustainability vs. the California Dream. In this collection of essays, Miller examines California’s critical environmental dilemmas through the lens of a natural storyteller and a relentless researcher.

Miller, who is the W. M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College, looks at the landscapes that define California. He talks about the interplay between geography and regional conditions that are making headlines and history—everything from forest fires and the devastating drought to endangered flora and fauna. Against this backdrop, Miller probes the policies that guide management of land and sea, and explores humans’ impact on a state that stretches from northern redwood forests to southern high deserts.

“The real goal is to help us understand how we can live in a place like Southern California more justly, and more greenly,” Miller said.

Miller’s topics are as varied and complex as California itself: agribusiness in the Central Valley, groundwater negotiations, oil and gas drilling, and the management of the federally owned lands that make up approximately 45 percent of the state. Throughout this new book, Miller uses storytelling to build a sense of place, to show how the hyperlocal—where one lives and works each day—relates to global issues, from climate change to environmental justice. Claremont, the city Miller now calls home, gets plenty of ink in these essays.

“The hyperlocal actually tells bigger stories,” Miller said. “Layered into these narratives is the history that helped get us where we are as well as some of the contemporary dilemmas—and, ultimately, some future possibilities.”

Char Miller '75Char Miller is the author, co-author or co-editor of 29 books, including Forest Conservation in the Anthropocene and America’s Great National Forests, Wildernesses, and Grasslands, which were released earlier this year.  He writes a column for and contributes essays and commentaries to news outlets around the country. This month, the Los Angeles Times published his op-ed “Trees are dying in the Sierra but the forests aren’t” and Rolling Stone quoted his take on California fire ecology.

Miller, who majored in history and political studies at Pitzer, currently serves on the College’s Alumni Board.

Not So Golden State: Sustainability vs. the California Dream is published by Trinity University Press. Miller will hold at book signing at Hennessey + Ingalls bookstore in Los Angeles on October 6.

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