A lovely, soft-spoken book about the “joy, inspiration, wonder, laughter, ideas” that come from relating to Earth’s...

DEEP BLUE HOME

AN INTIMATE ECOLOGY OF OUR WILD OCEAN

Mother Jones correspondent Whitty (The Fragile Edge: Diving and Other Adventures in the South Pacific, 2007, etc.) looks at the life of the oceans and the sea creatures she has observed over the past 30 years.

The author expresses significant concern about the fate of the many animals she has communed with, including a massive sea turtle—“straight out of prehistory…whose ancestors once shared the ocean with dinosaurs”—swimming in the Gulf of California with only a 50 percent chance of surviving in any given year because of the dangers of illegal capture, dangerous fishing gear and pollution. In the 1980s, Whitty spent two seasons on Isla Rasa, a small island off the coast of Baja California, where she assisted two scientists who were studying the behavior of falcons and the sea gulls and terns that they preyed upon. After visiting a neighboring island to observe least storm-petrels, “the smallest species among the smallest of all the seabirds,” she explains that they were probably named for Saint Peter, who, like the petrels, supposedly walked on water. In 1984, she and a partner filmed seals and small minke whales as they fished and witnessed an iceberg “slicing like a blue fluke into the air and listing in the wind before disintegrating into a debris field of slush and brash ice skidding across hundreds of yards of ocean surface.” Today, laments the author, along with the pollution of the oceans, modern fishing boats use monofilament fishing lines (with more than two billion hooks) and drift nets to catch tuna and cod, a practice that also threatens the lives of other fish, sea turtles and sea birds. In 2006, Whitty began work with a scientific crew searching for clues to the origins of life in the depths of the ocean.

A lovely, soft-spoken book about the “joy, inspiration, wonder, laughter, ideas” that come from relating to Earth’s “nonhuman world.”

Pub Date: July 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-618-11981-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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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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