Fast-paced and electrifying, Moore's story is "gonzo science" at its best.

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PLASTIC OCEAN

HOW A SEA CAPTAIN'S CHANCE DISCOVERY LAUNCHED A DETERMINED QUEST TO SAVE THE OCEANS

Firsthand account of how plastics pervade our oceans in unimaginable ways, killing marine life and causing wide-ranging environmental and health effects.

Capt. Moore, a lifelong seafarer, was spurred to activism when his catamaran stalled in a remote area of the northeast Pacific and he noticed a visible proliferation of plastic bits and other trash floating on the water's surface. Dubbed "The Great North Pacific Garbage Patch," it was an ominous indicator of the cavalier way in which humans dispose of tons of plastic trash. This initial discovery led the author on a decades-long investigation into plastic production, distribution and chemical makeup, which revealed a level of pollution—in the sea and otherwise—far more insidious than people realized. The rise of "disposable" products coupled with inexpensive mass-production processes resulted in an unprecedented number of plastic bottles, lighters, shopping bags, diapers and other detritus being thrown away each year. Too much of it winds up in the ocean, where cool salt water drastically slows down decomposition rates. Growing numbers of vulnerable animals are ingesting these materials, and often suffering malnutrition, unhealthy offspring and death. Evidence suggests that the entire food chain may be affected, since millions of micro-plastic bits are consumed by tiny sea creatures, which are eaten by bigger fish or birds, and so on. This "toxic Trojan horse" effect extends to air and land, as well, since plastics pervade so much of our lives and often leave toxic traces behind. The author is an impassioned, fiercely inquisitive writer, detailing the many unorthodox ways he's managed to get these issues into the news and in peer-reviewed science journals. His account is chilling, but with an underlying message of optimism: If human behaviors change, we can still save the oceans, and ourselves.

Fast-paced and electrifying, Moore's story is "gonzo science" at its best.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58333-424-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Avery

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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Jahren transcends both memoir and science writing in this literary fusion of both genres.

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LAB GIRL

Award-winning scientist Jahren (Geology and Geophysics/Univ. of Hawaii) delivers a personal memoir and a paean to the natural world.

The author’s father was a physics and earth science teacher who encouraged her play in the laboratory, and her mother was a student of English literature who nurtured her love of reading. Both of these early influences engrossingly combine in this adroit story of a dedication to science. Jahren’s journey from struggling student to struggling scientist has the narrative tension of a novel and characters she imbues with real depth. The heroes in this tale are the plants that the author studies, and throughout, she employs her facility with words to engage her readers. We learn much along the way—e.g., how the willow tree clones itself, the courage of a seed’s first root, the symbiotic relationship between trees and fungi, and the airborne signals used by trees in their ongoing war against insects. Trees are of key interest to Jahren, and at times she waxes poetic: “Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.” The author draws many parallels between her subjects and herself. This is her story, after all, and we are engaged beyond expectation as she relates her struggle in building and running laboratory after laboratory at the universities that have employed her. Present throughout is her lab partner, a disaffected genius named Bill, whom she recruited when she was a graduate student at Berkeley and with whom she’s worked ever since. The author’s tenacity, hope, and gratitude are all evident as she and Bill chase the sweetness of discovery in the face of the harsh economic realities of the research scientist.

Jahren transcends both memoir and science writing in this literary fusion of both genres.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-87493-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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