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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A solid foundational education in a handful of lively scientific topics.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE UNIVERSE

Two science podcasters answer their mail.

In this illustrated follow-up to We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe (2017), Cham, a cartoonist and former research associate and instructor at Caltech, and Whiteson, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine, explain the basic science behind subjects that seem to preoccupy the listeners of their podcast, Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe. Most of the questions involve physics or astrophysics and take the form of, is such-and-such possible?—e.g., teleportation, alien visitors, building a warp drive, entering a black hole). The authors emphasize that they are answering as scientists, not engineers. “A physicist will say something is possible if they don’t know of a law of physics that prevents it.” Thus, a spaceship traveling fast enough to reach the nearest star in a reasonable amount of time is not forbidden by the laws of physics, but building one is inconceivable. Similarly, wormholes and time travel are “not known to be impossible”—as are many other scenarios. Some distressing events are guaranteed. An asteroid will strike the Earth, the sun will explode, and the human race will become extinct, but studies reveal that none are immediate threats. Sadly, making Mars as habitable as Earth is possible but only with improbably futuristic technology. For those who suspect that we are living in a computer simulation, the authors describe what clues to look for. Readers may worry that the authors step beyond their expertise when they include chapters on the existence of an afterlife or the question of free will. Sticking closely to hard science, they deliver a lucid overview of brain function and the debate over the existence of alternate universes that is unlikely to provoke controversy. The authors’ work fits neatly into the recently burgeoning market of breezy pop-science books full of jokes, asides, and cartoons that serve as introductions to concepts that require much further study to fully understand.

A solid foundational education in a handful of lively scientific topics.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18931-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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

THE BOOK OF EELS

OUR ENDURING FASCINATION WITH THE MOST MYSTERIOUS CREATURE IN THE NATURAL WORLD

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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