“It took me years to stop smoking,” says Hunter. “It will take a while to learn to stop climate-wrecking.” Though he...



A credible warning of imminent ecological catastrophe, a nightmare brought about by greed, lies, denial, and inertia—to say nothing of SUVs.

You can be forgiven for assuming, thanks to the title, that this is some kind of bottom-of-the-barrel L. Ron Hubbard offering. But don’t be put off. Hunter, a cofounder of Greenpeace (Warriors of the Rainbow, not reviewed), does bring plenty of doom-and-gloom rhetoric and nightmare scenarios into play, but he also offers a healthy dose of good science in support of his overarching message, which can be condensed along these lines: Change your ways, postindustrialists, or come a quarter-century from now, the world is going to change in ways that will make life very difficult, if not impossible, for humans and other living things. Such messages are nothing new; as Hunter acknowledges, scientists have warned of global warming since at least 1957, when oceanographers observed that the world’s seas were absorbing less and less carbon dioxide and began to wonder where all that extra CO2 was going. What has changed, though, is an apparent unwillingness on the part of the general culture, and certainly the media, to treat such phenomena as a problem worth getting worked up about; “despite the existence of an instantaneous global communications system,” Hunter observes, the First World takes a business-as-usual attitude toward the environment, even as new “vehicles with internal-combustion engines are coming off the assembly lines around the world at the rate of one per minute” and the footprint of Americans and Europeans on the environment grows heavier and heavier, a pattern that will only increase as more and more nations become developed. What to do? Well, says Hunter, a little monkeywrenching might be in order—but so, too, is activism to press the cause of alternative energy and the like, and take note: a reordering of priorities to lessen individual consumption of resources.

“It took me years to stop smoking,” says Hunter. “It will take a while to learn to stop climate-wrecking.” Though he probably won’t reach the worst offenders, the author makes a good case for going cold turkey on Humvees, heated pools, and other deadly luxuries.

Pub Date: April 22, 2003

ISBN: 1-55970-667-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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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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Unsentimental nature writing that sheds as much light on humans as on eels.



An account of the mysterious life of eels that also serves as a meditation on consciousness, faith, time, light and darkness, and life and death.

In addition to an intriguing natural history, Swedish journalist Svensson includes a highly personal account of his relationship with his father. The author alternates eel-focused chapters with those about his father, a man obsessed with fishing for this elusive creature. “I can’t recall us ever talking about anything other than eels and how to best catch them, down there by the stream,” he writes. “I can’t remember us speaking at all….Because we were in…a place whose nature was best enjoyed in silence.” Throughout, Svensson, whose beat is not biology but art and culture, fills his account with people: Aristotle, who thought eels emerged live from mud, “like a slithering, enigmatic miracle”; Freud, who as a teenage biologist spent months in Trieste, Italy, peering through a microscope searching vainly for eel testes; Johannes Schmidt, who for two decades tracked thousands of eels, looking for their breeding grounds. After recounting the details of the eel life cycle, the author turns to the eel in literature—e.g., in the Bible, Rachel Carson’s Under the Sea Wind, and Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum—and history. He notes that the Puritans would likely not have survived without eels, and he explores Sweden’s “eel coast” (what it once was and how it has changed), how eel fishing became embroiled in the Northern Irish conflict, and the importance of eel fishing to the Basque separatist movement. The apparent return to life of a dead eel leads Svensson to a consideration of faith and the inherent message of miracles. He warns that if we are to save this fascinating creature from extinction, we must continue to study it. His book is a highly readable place to begin learning.

Unsentimental nature writing that sheds as much light on humans as on eels.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296881-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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