Readers looking to save the world—and humanity—should take an interest in this harm-reducing program.

UNDER THE SKY WE MAKE

HOW TO BE HUMAN IN A WARMING WORLD

Lund University climate scientist Nicholas delivers a user-friendly survey of the current state of the knowledge on climate change.

The bad news, she writes, is that the climate “is already changing faster than ecosystems can naturally adapt.” As a result, food production is endangered, and climate-based economic inequalities are sharpening. The good news is that “we can fix it: humans have the capacity to stop dangerously destabilizing the climate.” The fix involves good science, and although there are countless bloviators out there who deny the reality of climate change, especially human-caused, the fact is that just a small fraction of people “don’t believe the unequivocal fact that humans are warming the climate.” It also involves plenty of politicking, though Nicholas assures readers that the basic framework is in place with existing international accords such as the 2015 Paris Agreement. What remains to be done, on a long to-do list, is to move from what she calls an “Exploitation Mindset” to one devoted to regeneration, and this takes the large-scale down to the individual level, with each of us responsible for adopting habits that contribute to environmental healing. Interestingly, one good choice is to elect more women to public office, which has “caused stronger climate policies to be adopted, resulting in lower national carbon emissions.” Another is to carve meat out of one’s diet: Converting plant food to animal food is energy inefficient, and one study Nicholas cites shows that if all of us adopted a largely vegetarian diet on the Indian model, “we could feed the world on less than half of today’s cropland.” More immediately, citizens must reject fast-fix, “pollute-now, pay later” promises on the parts of corporations and demand better solutions. Some of the author’s recommendations have been voiced by other climate activists, but she writes with welcome clarity and little partisan cheerleading.

Readers looking to save the world—and humanity—should take an interest in this harm-reducing program.

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32817-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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