Harnessing Science to Change the World
by , edited by
Email this review


Climate change is coming; what can we do about it? TV’s “Science guy” has some answers.

Nye (Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, 2014, etc.) begins with the central point that Earth is our home, and we need to treat it as such—not as if it’s a rented property we can let the landlord fix when we leave. If we take that view, he argues, we should be looking for ways to keep the planet livable for those who come after us. He outlines the science behind the greenhouse effect, with particular emphasis on thermodynamics. We are in our current situation due to thermodynamics, but we can use thermodynamics to avoid the worst of the problems we face. Nye then proceeds to look for answers—some big, some small, some ingenious. Many are familiar to anyone paying attention: get off fossil fuels, increase the use of renewable energy, expand mass transit, find more efficient ways to store energy. Others are a bit quixotic—e.g., changing the culture of NASCAR to promote more efficient racing engines. The discussion of moving some of our population off the planet may also strike some as far-fetched. Nye draws on his personal experience, such as the way his own garden grows, to bring the scientific points into everyday perspective, and he lightens the tone of a vitally important topic with humorous examples. His reputation as a straight talker about science undoubtedly helps him resist the temptation to take simplistic stands. His discussion of nuclear energy, for example, recognizes both the potential and the difficulties of the technology. Nye also takes a close look at dwindling water supplies, already a critical issue in the American West. Desalinization technologies, such as diffusion through membranes, are promising, though breakthroughs are still needed. Nye’s folksy style may not sit well with readers who expect scientists to be deadly serious, but it will probably ensure a deservedly wide readership.

An important message delivered in a winning manner.

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-250-00714-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2015


NonfictionDON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT by George Marshall
by George Marshall
NonfictionFIELD NOTES FROM A CATASTROPHE by Elizabeth Kolbert
by Elizabeth Kolbert
by Al Gore