Pie-in-the-sky visions meet gritty practicality in a book of interest to all environmentally minded readers.

REGENERATION

ENDING THE CLIMATE CRISIS IN ONE GENERATION

Along with a host of researchers, scholars, and other contributors, Hawken assesses our “dying planet—a phrase that may have sounded inflated or over the top not long ago.”

In order to mitigate the disastrous effects of climate change, we must figure out ways to contain carbon and reduce the surface temperature of a rapidly overheating globe. It also requires rethinking how we make our livings in an extractive economy governed by short-term thinking. “Regeneration,” as Hawken conceives it, is a project that restores every corner of the world to health. The process involves replanting overlogged forests, cleaning up the oceans, bringing sustainable power to consumers, and inculcating a new attitude of respect for all forms of life on the planet, among other goals. Hawken and a phalanx of contributors—including novelists Richard Powers and Jonathan Safran Foer and ecologists Carl Safina and Isabella Tree—examine carefully pinpointed strategies. One is to develop marine preserves around the world that are “absolute no-take zones,” forbidding fishing in large swaths of what is essentially a “lawless commons.” These marine preserves and other areas would be subject to “marine reforestation,” building kelp forests that have been depleted by chemical pollution and shifting oceanic currents. Another is to build sustainable food chains. A Japanese farmer, for instance, raises ducks that eat invasive snails and fertilize paddies of a plant called azolla, which, in maturity, becomes a wonderfully productive “green manure” for other plants. If you haven’t heard of azolla, you’re to be forgiven: As Hawken observes, we consume only a small fraction of the edible plants available to us, and we can be weaned from large-scale industrial agriculture in order to make use of the plants that “grow best where people live and help meet their nutritional needs.” The prescriptions are attainable and clearly stated, without jargon or hectoring.

Pie-in-the-sky visions meet gritty practicality in a book of interest to all environmentally minded readers.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313697-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

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THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS

Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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