Practical, detailed and authoritative—essential reading.

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WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING

An incisive look at global warming.

Walker (An Ocean of Air: Why the Wind Blows and Other Mysteries of the Atmosphere, 2007, etc.), and King, director of research at the University of Cambridge, begin with the science that demonstrates the reality of global warming and its origin in human activity. The climate since the last decade of the 20th century is the hottest since record keeping began. Archaeological and paleontological evidence indicates that the Earth is currently warmer than it has been for at least 1,000 years. The reason is clear: The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is the highest in 650,000 years. Because of this, we can expect more intense tropical storms; drought in middle latitudes (the United States, much of Europe and Asia); killing heat waves; rising sea levels; spread of infectious diseases; crop failures; migrations and warfare caused by climate change. Although warming can be expected to continue of its own momentum for some time, note the authors, we may be able to keep it to about 3.5 F° above pre-industrial levels. Suggesting means to rein it in, they stick to currently feasible tactics: finding alternatives to fossil fuels, conserving energy with better insulation and more efficient appliances, adopting more efficient forms of transportation, halting deforestation. While some steps, such as wider use of nuclear power, face much resistance, even hardcore environmentalists may decide the tradeoffs are worth the risks. The book’s third section tackles what may be the most difficult task: conjuring the political will to do what is necessary. Resistance is high in developing nations such as China, and some developed nations—notably the United States and Russia—have been reluctant to face reality. Still, after the authors look closely at a dozen nations, they find reasons for optimism. Ordinary people can make a difference, they declare, if enough of us try.

Practical, detailed and authoritative—essential reading.

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-603318-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harvest/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2008

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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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Whether you call this a personal story or nature writing, it’s poignant, thoughtful and moving—and likely to become a...

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H IS FOR HAWK

An inspired, beautiful and absorbing account of a woman battling grief—with a goshawk.

Following the sudden death of her father, Macdonald (History and Philosophy/Cambridge Univ.; Falcon, 2006, etc.) tried staving off deep depression with a unique form of personal therapy: the purchase and training of an English goshawk, which she named Mabel. Although a trained falconer, the author chose a raptor both unfamiliar and unpredictable, a creature of mad confidence that became a means of working against madness. “The hawk was everything I wanted to be: solitary, self-possessed, free from grief, and numb to the hurts of human life,” she writes. As a devotee of birds of prey since girlhood, Macdonald knew the legends and the literature, particularly the cautionary example of The Once and Future King author T.H. White, whose 1951 book The Goshawk details his own painful battle to master his title subject. Macdonald dramatically parallels her own story with White’s, achieving a remarkable imaginative sympathy with the writer, a lonely, tormented homosexual fighting his own sadomasochistic demons. Even as she was learning from White’s mistakes, she found herself very much in his shoes, watching her life fall apart as the painfully slow bonding process with Mabel took over. Just how much do animals and humans have in common? The more Macdonald got to know her, the more Mabel confounded her notions about what the species was supposed to represent. Is a hawk a symbol of might or independence, or is that just our attempt to remake the animal world in our own image? Writing with breathless urgency that only rarely skirts the melodramatic, Macdonald broadens her scope well beyond herself to focus on the antagonism between people and the environment.

Whether you call this a personal story or nature writing, it’s poignant, thoughtful and moving—and likely to become a classic in either genre.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0802123411

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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