Sobering, fact-based cautionary treatise on the quiet storm of climate change.

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FRASER'S PENGUINS

A JOURNEY TO THE FUTURE IN ANTARCTICA

An online magazine writer witnesses the incremental damage of global warming firsthand.

In 2005-’06, Yale Environment 360 senior editor Montaigne (Reeling In Russia: An American Angler In Russia, 1998) spent five months at Palmer Station, the only U.S. research station north of the Antarctic Circle. As a member of an environmental-science research team under ecologist Bill Fraser, the author tracked the breeding seasons of the “simultaneously gregarious and irascible” knee-high Adélie penguin, along with varieties of native seabirds. Montaigne’s findings only confirmed what Fraser and his team discovered in their time spent at the station since 1974: Antarctica’s ice sheets are melting, bloating sea levels, which has a direct impact on global weather patterns. The author was consistently in awe of the breathtaking panorama surrounding him, and this remote, larger-than-life locale triggered an “exhilarating feeling of insignificance.” He writes that though there are 2.5 million pairs of Adélies in Antarctica, those on and around rocky Torgersen Island are dying, and the “ecological upheaval” of global warming continues. The ramifications extend to the penguins' food web as well, diminishing the once-abundant populace of Southern Ocean krill, a penguin staple. Fun and fascinating penguin traits leaven the bad news: their much-studied “love-triangle brawls,” unique mating rituals (often while entombed in snow squalls), egg-laying facts and a peculiar penchant toward “pebble larceny,” when neighboring birds steal warming stones from adjacent nests. Less heartwarming is the decimation of newborn penguin chicks by predators. The unifying narrative thread is Fraser’s justified concerns about the “incredible changes” happening to Earth’s natural ecosystems and how we, as vulnerable humans, “need these systems to survive.”

Sobering, fact-based cautionary treatise on the quiet storm of climate change.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8050-7942-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: John Macrae/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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An intriguing meditation on the nature of the universe and our attempts to understand it that should appeal to both...

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SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS

Italian theoretical physicist Rovelli (General Relativity: The Most Beautiful of Theories, 2015, etc.) shares his thoughts on the broader scientific and philosophical implications of the great revolution that has taken place over the past century.

These seven lessons, which first appeared as articles in the Sunday supplement of the Italian newspaper Sole 24 Ore, are addressed to readers with little knowledge of physics. In less than 100 pages, the author, who teaches physics in both France and the United States, cogently covers the great accomplishments of the past and the open questions still baffling physicists today. In the first lesson, he focuses on Einstein's theory of general relativity. He describes Einstein's recognition that gravity "is not diffused through space [but] is that space itself" as "a stroke of pure genius." In the second lesson, Rovelli deals with the puzzling features of quantum physics that challenge our picture of reality. In the remaining sections, the author introduces the constant fluctuations of atoms, the granular nature of space, and more. "It is hardly surprising that there are more things in heaven and earth, dear reader, than have been dreamed of in our philosophy—or in our physics,” he writes. Rovelli also discusses the issues raised in loop quantum gravity, a theory that he co-developed. These issues lead to his extraordinary claim that the passage of time is not fundamental but rather derived from the granular nature of space. The author suggests that there have been two separate pathways throughout human history: mythology and the accumulation of knowledge through observation. He believes that scientists today share the same curiosity about nature exhibited by early man.

An intriguing meditation on the nature of the universe and our attempts to understand it that should appeal to both scientists and general readers.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-18441-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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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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