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
ISBN: 9780374280000
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - September 17th, 2019

Staff Pick

To jolt people out of their complacency about climate change, David Wallace-Wells gathered the data on twelve key elements of today’s ever-more unstable world. Delivered in one concentrated punch, the statistics on the global rise in heat, ferocity and frequency of storms, droughts, famines, ocean acidifi cation, and political unrest are truly shocking. Add to these the cascade effect of their unpredictable interactions—more carbon in the soil fosters larger plants with fewer nutrients, which sharpens competition for dwindling protein sources, leading to more social unrest, climate refugees, and so on—and Wallace-Wells presents a truly horrifying picture of a world that is hurtling toward apocalypse. Yet despite calling this book The Uninhabitable Earth (Tim Duggan, $27), Wallace-Wells believes that even by the end of the century—about as far as we can bear to look at this point—only one third of Earth will actually be uninhabitable. We still have time to change. But will we? Human behavior is the greatest of the many unknowns that lie ahead, and, without laying out particular policies, Wallace-Wells offers a profound reflection on what it will mean for us to live—for the first time ever—outside “the narrow window of environmental conditions that allowed the human to evolve” and, most crucially, that enabled us to create a civilization based on fossil-fuels.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525576709
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Tim Duggan Books - February 19th, 2019

Staff Pick

If the roar of leaf blowers, chain saws, and other landscaping tools strikes you as a war on nature—that’s because it is. As Tree reports in her outstanding book about converting farmland back to wild land, after World War II “tanks converted to tractors; poison gas to pesticides and herbicides,” and humans managed the land more aggressively than ever. It’s been a deadly process. As insect “pests” have been eradicated, so have the earthworms, fungi, honey bees, and hosts of other creatures essential to healthy soil, and the soil itself has been turned into a hotbed of chemicals inimical to life. Like many landholders, Tree and her husband followed intensive modern farming methods on their Knepp Estate in West Sussex until, by 2000, it was too expensive to keep up. What would happen if they simply left things alone? They tried it—not without resistance from neighbors, who were outraged at the idea of land left “unproductive” on purpose—and what happened was amazing. The soil recovered. The waters ran clear. The grounds attracted butterflies, plants, and birds in numbers—and sometimes kinds—not seen in Britain in decades. Tree writes beautifully about this explosion of biodiversity; she’s genuinely charmed by nature’s ways and her vivid descriptions of life in its many, wondrous forms—from dung beetles to oak trees to her beloved turtle doves—aren’t just informative, they’re magical.

Wilding: Returning Nature to Our Farm Cover Image
By Isabella Tree, Eric Schlosser (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781681373713
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: New York Review Books - September 17th, 2019