A highly readable, eloquent reminder of the dire importance of our forests.

EVER GREEN

SAVING BIG FORESTS TO SAVE THE PLANET

Why saving the world’s remaining megaforests is crucial to saving the planet.

In this captivating book, Reid and Lovejoy take readers on a journey through the five remaining megaforests—New Guinea, the Congo, the Amazon, the North American boreal zone, and the taiga—vividly describing each region’s native plants and animals as well as their diverse Indigenous populations and cultures. “Megaforests hold staggering human diversity,” write the authors. “Over a quarter of Earth’s languages are spoken in the world’s largest woodlands.” Throughout, the authors make consistently compelling arguments about the importance of saving these regions—not just for the flora and fauna, but for the human denizens. “Over 10 percent of intact forest landscapes were fragmented or lost between 2000 and 2016,” they write. Saving intact forests is vital to combatting rising global temperatures and “once-in-a-century” fires, droughts, floods, and storms that now occur frequently. Reid and Lovejoy point out that one of the primary benefits of megaforests is their ability to remove massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The plants in these regions are also used by Native peoples for household items, clothing, and medicine. In order for megaforest conservation to work, limiting roads is the most important factor, as the majority of deforestation occurs near roads and navigable waterways. In their call to action, the authors offer feasible methods to make a difference, refreshingly noting that “yes, our individual choices matter.” Sending a message from the inhabitants of the regions, the authors also invite readers to “Go see a big forest! The people who live there want you to experience, directly and with all your senses, what we’ve done our best to hint at between these covers.” Although the idea of saving the forests is hardly new, the language and details the authors use (as well as the included images) to describe these regions lead to an especially powerful message.

A highly readable, eloquent reminder of the dire importance of our forests.

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-324-00603-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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