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UNDER THE SKY WE MAKE

HOW TO BE HUMAN IN A WARMING WORLD

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

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. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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THE BACKYARD BIRD CHRONICLES

An ebullient nature lover’s paean to birds.

A charming bird journey with the bestselling author.

In his introduction to Tan’s “nature journal,” David Allen Sibley, the acclaimed ornithologist, nails the spirit of this book: a “collection of delightfully quirky, thoughtful, and personal observations of birds in sketches and words.” For years, Tan has looked out on her California backyard “paradise”—oaks, periwinkle vines, birch, Japanese maple, fuchsia shrubs—observing more than 60 species of birds, and she fashions her findings into delightful and approachable journal excerpts, accompanied by her gorgeous color sketches. As the entries—“a record of my life”—move along, the author becomes more adept at identifying and capturing them with words and pencils. Her first entry is September 16, 2017: Shortly after putting up hummingbird feeders, one of the tiny, delicate creatures landed on her hand and fed. “We have a relationship,” she writes. “I am in love.” By August 2018, her backyard “has become a menagerie of fledglings…all learning to fly.” Day by day, she has continued to learn more about the birds, their activities, and how she should relate to them; she also admits mistakes when they occur. In December 2018, she was excited to observe a Townsend’s Warbler—“Omigod! It’s looking at me. Displeased expression.” Battling pesky squirrels, Tan deployed Hot Pepper Suet to keep them away, and she deterred crows by hanging a fake one upside down. The author also declared war on outdoor cats when she learned they kill more than 1 billion birds per year. In May 2019, she notes that she spends $250 per month on beetle larvae. In June 2019, she confesses “spending more hours a day staring at birds than writing. How can I not?” Her last entry, on December 15, 2022, celebrates when an eating bird pauses, “looks and acknowledges I am there.”

An ebullient nature lover’s paean to birds.

Pub Date: April 23, 2024

ISBN: 9780593536131

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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