At times a bit labored in its advocacy, but an eye-opener nonetheless.

BRUSH CAT

ON TREES, THE WOOD ECONOMY, AND THE MOST DANGEROUS JOB IN AMERICA

A tribute to the work and lifestyle of independent loggers tallies up harsh odds against sustainable future prosperity.

McEnany (co-author: Bode: Go Fast, Be Good, Have Fun, 2005) has spent the last two decades in New Hampshire and other Northern forest environs observing and unabashedly admiring what could be a dying breed: the independent logger, known colloquially as a “brush cat,” praised here as a rugged, hard worker and a protector of America’s forest resources. The author diligently differentiates these individuals from the major timber companies working largely in vast Western forests that tend to be less variegated than Eastern ones. These companies often employ mechanized “clear cutting” that wipes a wooded area clean of every stick and, as a result, have become high-priority targets of major environmental groups. Independent loggers, the author stresses, tend to be as interested as anyone in conserving and managing their “woodlots” in the forest. They cull dead, dying and waste timber, creating space for more valuable, healthy trees to provide a future crop. They work with few assistants, sometimes even single-handedly, cutting their “skid rows” into the target areas so trees felled by hand with chain saws can be dragged out and loaded onto trucks. Government figures and insurance-company actuaries amply bear out the author’s contention that this is America’s most perilous occupation; plenty of gory examples from real cases demonstrate what can go wrong when trees are felled. McEnany also provides updated information on what role climate change appears to be playing in our forests. Warmer winters allow more parasites to survive to attack trees; less snow means frost lines go deeper, the spring “mud season” is protracted and the brush cat’s window of opportunity keeps shrinking.

At times a bit labored in its advocacy, but an eye-opener nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 17, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-36891-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2009

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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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Ackerman writes with a light but assured touch, her prose rich in fact but economical in delivering it. Fans of birds in all...

THE GENIUS OF BIRDS

Science writer Ackerman (Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold, 2010, etc.) looks at the new science surrounding avian intelligence.

The takeaway: calling someone a birdbrain is a compliment. And in any event, as Ackerman observes early on, “intelligence is a slippery concept, even in our own species, tricky to define and tricky to measure.” Is a bird that uses a rock to break open a clamshell the mental equivalent of a tool-using primate? Perhaps that’s the wrong question, for birds are so unlike humans that “it’s difficult for us to fully appreciate their mental capabilities,” given that they’re really just small, feathered dinosaurs who inhabit a wholly different world from our once-arboreal and now terrestrial one. Crows and other corvids have gotten all the good publicity related to bird intelligence in recent years, but Ackerman, who does allow that some birds are brighter than others, points favorably to the much-despised pigeon as an animal that “can remember hundreds of different objects for long periods of time, discriminate between different painting styles, and figure out where it’s going, even when displaced from familiar territory by hundreds of miles.” Not bad for a critter best known for bespattering statues in public parks. Ackerman travels far afield to places such as Barbados and New Caledonia to study such matters as memory, communication, and decision-making, the last largely based on visual cues—though, as she notes, birds also draw ably on other senses, including smell, which in turn opens up insight onto “a weird evolutionary paradox that scientists have puzzled over for more than a decade”—a matter of the geometry of, yes, the bird brain.

Ackerman writes with a light but assured touch, her prose rich in fact but economical in delivering it. Fans of birds in all their diversity will want to read this one.

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59420-521-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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