THE FLOODED EARTH

OUR FUTURE IN A WORLD WITHOUT ICE CAPS

More doom and gloom about rising sea levels.

NASA astrobiologist Ward (Biology and Earth and Space Science/Univ. of Washington; Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future, 2007, etc.) describes the disastrous changes that can be expected as sea levels continue their accelerating rise due to global warming. Drawing on recent studies, the author writes that there will be massive flooding—far more than currently predicted—of world coastlines, home to more than 200 million people. In one of many scenarios, Ward predicts conditions in Miami in 2120, where a ten-foot rise in sea level has left behind a bankrupt island city without municipal freshwater, freeway and railroad ties or much of a middle class (most having fled to higher ground), its dying economy based mainly on illegal drugs. “All of the coastal cities can die by drowning,” he writes, noting that flooding will destroy the infrastructure needed for survival. “If we do not act, none will be spared, even those that climb up hills onto steeper slopes, such as San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, and Vancouver.” Ward examines each aspect of the havoc-making process: increasing greenhouse-gas emissions, rising temperatures, melting of the large ice sheets and glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica and a foreseeable sea-level rise of more than 200 feet over centuries. The biggest culprit behind rising seas, he writes, is overpopulation. Most vulnerable to drowning and economic calamity are coastal places at low sea levels in Holland, Bangladesh and more than 30 other countries, and the most likely to emerge as greater world powers are cold places like Russia and Canada. Ward writes that coastal cities have three choices: do little or nothing (and be inundated), build flood-control facilities and dikes or relocate populations to entirely new cities. More broadly, to avoid disastrous global warming, humans must not only reduce greenhouse gases; they must change behaviors (stop using coal, eliminate the suburbs and private vehicles) and engineer new climate-protecting techniques (artificial cloud cover, space reflectors, etc.).

A blunt, vivid warning.

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-465-00949-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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