Staff Pick

Nathaniel Rich’s heartbreaking Losing Earth (MCD, $25) is the story of a window opening and closing. It covers the decade between 1979, when the EPA published a report on the effects of carbon emissions, and 1989, when world leaders meeting in Noordwijk failed to sign a binding global resolution to stabilize those emissions. But what might have been an exercise in outrage or a dry account of meetings, hearings, and reports is a gracefully written narrative that lets us get to know the key figures involved and offers real insights into why we’ve failed to summon the political will to act in a coordinated, meaningful way on a deadly serious issue. And there are surprises: petroleum companies haven’t always been deniers. Initially, they accepted the science of climate change and, understanding that “the longer the industry waited to act the worse it would go for them,” were ready to change. So what happened? It’s tempting to blame Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and John Sununu. But as Rich shows, if it was so easy for other government leaders to back down in the face of America’s reservations, they were never fully committed in the first place. Unlike a local environmental crisis or even the catchily phrased “ozone hole,” the future is large and abstract and we won’t be there to see what it’s really like.

Losing Earth: A Recent History Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780374191337
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: MCD - April 9th, 2019

Staff Pick

Collections of previously published essays and speeches can be a mixed bag, but the sixteen pieces—plus a substantial, new introduction, itself worth the price of the book, and an epilogue detailing the Green New Deal—in Naomi Klein’s blistering On Fire (Simon & Schuster, $27) form not only a coherent picture of the state of the Earth, but, looking back over the last decade of climate change events, constitute an invaluable timeline of the increasing evidence of a climate crisis, our growing awareness of the need to act—and the failure of leaders to take the necessary steps. Written with her signature passion and eloquence, this book is vintage Klein. In reports from 2010’s BP Deepwater Horizon spill, the 2017 wildfires in British Columbia, and the long aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, she demonstrates how the “exploitation of individual workers” and “the decimation of individual mountains and rivers“ are both based on an “indifference to life” that has brought the planet itself to its knees. At the same time, though several World Climate Conferences have failed to curb carbon emissions, more people have organized to demand action. Klein finds hope in groups such as Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement, and, most of all, Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Octavio-Cortez.

On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781982129910
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 17th, 2019

Staff Pick

“It is … tragically difficult to talk about the planetary crisis in a way that is believed,” Jonathan Safran Foer states in We Are the Weather (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25). His own effort ranges from a blunt catalog of statistics to a debate with his soul and a recontextualizing of the crisis as a post-Biblical event in which “we are the fl ood and we are the ark.” His most powerful move is to compare the climate crisis to World War II, when civilians at home hung blackout curtains, ate less meat, and drove slower, all for the common good. But they also failed to act on the first reports of the Holocaust, finding it too awful to be believed. Similarly, today we watch glaciers melting yet don’t really believe it’s a crisis. What will it take to get us to act? Foer makes a compelling case for diet as the place to start. Because animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation and contributes an outsize amount to greenhouse gas emissions, if every American cut back on meat by 90% and dairy by 60%, we could begin to get things under control. Foer, a repeatedly lapsing vegan, admits how difficult this is. He also reminds us that it’s one of the easier of the many sacrifices we will have to make—soon.

We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780374280000
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - September 17th, 2019

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