Hawken’s handbook for fighting climate change lists a hundred ways we can improve not only the life of the planet, but the lives of all who live on it. Similarly, the book itself focuses as much on natural beauty as it does on technology. With photos of spotted owl hatchlings and the Kermode bear alongside pictures of the sleek, fuel-efficient Concept S truck and a Tesla powerwall, the book brilliantly illustrates both how we can save the Earth and why it’s so important to. With contributions from a wide range of scientists and writers, including Bill McKibben and Elizabeth Kolbert, this is a truly inspiring project—one we should all get behind.
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Published: Penguin Books - April 18th, 2017
With every drop of the Colorado River allocated—or, more truthfully, over-allocated—the wild force that carved out the Grand Canyon is really more of a tightly-managed “fourteen-hundred mile long canal.” Running from the Rocky Mountains to a formerly lush, and now dry, river delta between Baja and Sonora, the Colorado is the faucet that waters the towns, cities, parks, mines, vineyards, and fields of seven states and parts of Mexico. Owen tours many of these communities, farms, and RV campsites, showing the diverse and often competing uses of the water. He also charts the Law of the River, a Byzantine set of rules and laws that apportions more “paper water” than there is “wet water” to cover. The situation has always been bad and is getting worse, but probably not in the ways you might think. Green-minded Denver, for instance, is more sprawling than Los Angeles. Las Vegas isn’t the ecological folly it’s often accused of being, nor is farming in a desert necessarily illogical. Overturning assumptions, and revealing little known facts about the hellish conditions for workers on the Hoover Dam or 1960s experiments with a kind of nuclear fracking, Owen covers a lot of fascinating physical, historical, legal, and cultural ground. But his main point is that “water issues are never only about water.” Even if we’re conscious of our “water footprint”—and few of us are in any meaningful way—it’s the overall “resource footprint” we have to consider, a fiercely complicated proposition.
The title of Manyika’s warm, glowing novel sounds like a Nigerian folk saying, but it comes from Mary Ruefle’s poem, “Donkey On,” which ends with the speaker getting from the Lord a “private year.” Her “only question is how to spend it,” and as she puts off the decision, the gift, like all time, melts away. For Manyika’s aging protagonist, time may well be running out, but Morayo Da Silva, a retired Nigerian English professor about to turn 75, is as indomitable, mischievous, and utterly charming. If you aren’t smitten with this character on the first page, you will be by the second, as she surveys her tribe of books and her “magnifique” view of San Francisco. Morayo delights in everything around her: colors, neighbors, flowers, the past—and the future. Her world is vivid and sensuous. Just getting dressed, she savors “the smell of Lagos markets” woven into the cotton, inhaling “diesel fumes, hot palm oil, burning firewood.” She arranges her books according to which ones “should talk to each other.” She endows her beloved car—her freedom—with the nickname her mother gave her as a child. Then she falls. Her broken hip still doesn’t stop her, nor does the racism and sexism she encounters. She is truly one of a kind, wise and compassionate, with an expansive, infectious spirit that dances across every page of this beautiful book.