A highly optimistic, sincere account of those leading the charge to solve a grave problem that some still choose to ignore.

HACKING PLANET EARTH

HOW GEOENGINEERING CAN HELP US REIMAGINE THE FUTURE

An enthusiastic guide to reversing global warming.

As award-winning science journalist Kostigen (National Geographic Extreme Weather Survival Guide, 2014, etc.) points out, humans add 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year, an amount that’s rising steadily despite current efforts to curb it. Since grassroots endeavors have not worked, the author proposes that “industry, the sector of society responsible for much of human-caused global warming…has to turn things around and lead the charge to help mend our climate.” Innovators—entrepreneurs, scientists, and technologists—must “do what they do best: invent, pioneer, disrupt the same old ways of doing things.” Traveling the world, Kostigen turns up individuals and organizations that are doing just that. A proposed giant laser will zap clouds, producing rain where it’s disappearing. Warming oceans produce more hurricanes, but ingenious machines can mix the hot surface and cool depths. Millions of artificial trees (invented 10 years ago) would soak up carbon dioxide as fast as it is being produced. By the halfway point, the author has turned from preventing global warming to proposing how humans might live in the future, whether hot or not. Kostigen provides plenty of intriguing accounts of underground cities, vertical farms, artificial meat, genetically modified food, and the quest to effectively turn sewage into drinking water. We are a problem-solving species, so, as conditions worsen, we will go into action—though much more should have already been accomplished—but many of Kostigen's projects require spectacular technological advances, worldwide cooperation (to raise the trillions of dollars necessary), or the wisdom to avoid the disastrous side effects of tampering with nature that occurred followed previous tampering. Still, since self-denial has failed and national governments refuse to inconvenience carbon-producing industries—including the United States, even under Barack Obama)—many experts besides Kostigen are pinning their hopes on technology.

A highly optimistic, sincere account of those leading the charge to solve a grave problem that some still choose to ignore.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-18754-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: TarcherPerigee

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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As much a work of philosophy as of physics and full of insights for readers willing to work hard.

THE ORDER OF TIME

Undeterred by a subject difficult to pin down, Italian theoretical physicist Rovelli (Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity, 2017, etc.) explains his thoughts on time.

Other scientists have written primers on the concept of time for a general audience, but Rovelli, who also wrote the bestseller Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, adds his personal musings, which are astute and rewarding but do not make for an easy read. “We conventionally think of time,” he writes, “as something simple and fundamental that flows uniformly, independently from everything else, uniformly from the past to the future, measured by clocks and watches. In the course of time, the events of the universe succeed each other in an orderly way: pasts, presents, futures. The past is fixed, the future open….And yet all of this has turned out to be false.” Rovelli returns again and again to the ideas of three legendary men. Aristotle wrote that things change continually. What we call “time” is the measurement of that change. If nothing changed, time would not exist. Newton disagreed. While admitting the existence of a time that measures events, he insisted that there is an absolute “true time” that passes relentlessly. If the universe froze, time would roll on. To laymen, this may seem like common sense, but most philosophers are not convinced. Einstein asserted that both are right. Aristotle correctly explained that time flows in relation to something else. Educated laymen know that clocks register different times when they move or experience gravity. Newton’s absolute exists, but as a special case in Einstein’s curved space-time. According to Rovelli, our notion of time dissolves as our knowledge grows; complex features swell and then retreat and perhaps vanish entirely. Furthermore, equations describing many fundamental physical phenomena don’t require time.

As much a work of philosophy as of physics and full of insights for readers willing to work hard.

Pub Date: May 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1610-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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