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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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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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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