By YES! editors
It's been a hell of a year. YES! editors recommend relevant and illuminating books that help us find our way forward.
1. All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis
A splendid offering of wisdom, warmth, and inspiration to reshape our vision of climate futures, All We Can Save is a skillfully curated collection of essays, poems, and illustrations that is decidedly feminine in its character and feminist in its approach. In her essay, "Sacred Resistance," contributor Tara Houska writes, "Much of the space we call 'the climate movement' appears to be modeled after the same systems of inequity and separation we are attempting to change, undo, or outright dismantle." In a beautiful cross-section of society's most visionary voices on climate, the book instead invokes the powers of compassion, connection, and justice. Remaking the world is possible, they say, but whatever you do, don't call it hope. The pursuit of solutions cannot afford passive optimism. As Houska concludes, "We are never far from the answer to the problem we have created — it is within each of us." — Breanna Draxler
2. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents invites a reappraisal of how we view race in this country. The book is eminently relevant in these fraught times, where the topic of race is everywhere. Yet Wilkerson never uses the words "race" or "racism" to describe the experience of African Americans, continuing an approach she took in her previous work, The Warmth of Other Suns. Rather she writes about "upper caste" and "lower caste" to describe Jim Crow hierarchy, where everything you could or couldn't do was based on what you looked like.
She compares India's treatment of its lower-caste citizens and Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews to America's treatment of African Americans. Racism, she says, is insufficient to capture the enormity of what Black people endure. The word is so overused, people stop hearing it. She calls race "the visible agent of the unseen force of caste. Caste is the bones, race the skin." It's an invitation for people to peer beneath the surface of the language they've gotten accustomed to. — Lornet Turnbull
Jan Morris is primarily known to contemporary readers as a British travel writer with dozens of books to her name. But she was also a journalist and historian who covered the first ascent of Mount Everest and the war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann, and also one of the first high-profile transgender artists, beginning with her 1974 coming-out memoir, Conundrum. Morris died Nov. 20, 2020, at age 94.
One of Morris' most interesting works is Hav, a novel in the guise of a travelogue to a fictitious Mediterranean city-state. The book includes 1985's Last Letters From Hav, and its 2006 sequel (when she "revisited" the country), Hav of the Myrmidons.
The book explores the conflict between tradition and modern life, Cold War tensions, indigenous populations facing extinction, how society changes after tumultuous upheaval, and the rise of religious fundamentalism and neoliberal economics. All of it is told with Morris' razor-sharp observations and poetic language, and as Ursula K. LeGuin notes in the introduction, "it is a very good guidebook, I think, to the early twenty-first century." — Chris Winters
4. Just Us: An American Conversation
Under discussion in Claudia Rankine's Just Us: An American Conversation is our abiding but often unacknowledged American system of racial inequality. Rankine, a Black woman, attempts honest conversations with White friends and strangers who don't see what to her is the obvious reality of everyday White supremacy. In a series of telling moments — on an airplane, at a dinner party — Rankine allows herself to push against the glass wall of social convention by acknowledging racism. Her measured but discomforting comments are an experiment that invites other people to see themselves through her eyes and perhaps arrive at a moment of shared reality. But the smart, liberal White people Rankine engages usually respond with denial or the lack of awareness bred of ingrained privilege. Brilliant and generous, this book of essays, poems, and images is one for all Americans to give, share, and talk about. — Valerie Schloredt
5. Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty From a Hospital Diary
When hospital staff in a chaotic urban ER left Timothy Snyder awaiting treatment for 17 hours, he came close to death, fading in and out of consciousness. Turns out his bloodstream was infected from a liver abscess that had been noted, but not treated, when his burst appendix was removed two weeks earlier at the same hospital. Friends asked why this eminent Yale historian hadn't called in a favor to get the medical attention he needed sooner. But leveraging privilege hadn't occurred to Snyder, best known for On Tyranny, his book about threats to democracy.
In the weeks that followed, as COVID-19 spread across the United States, Snyder battled his malady and made notes on ours — a medical system of extreme inequality, designed to maximize profit, that makes everyone sicker. The result is Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary. You've heard that health care is a human right. Snyder brings rage and empathy to his assertion that health is also necessary to liberty, and health care for all a path to real freedom. — Valerie Schloredt
6. The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart
Alicia Garza's new book is the perfect answer to the question: Where do I start when it comes to organizing and movement building? What can I do?
In The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart, Garza uses her own story to describe the ebbs and flows of movements: building a base, organizing around an issue, taking action, and creating positive change. Going from a sexual-health peer educator in high school to community work in the Bay Area to co-founding Black Lives Matter, possibly the largest social movement in U.S. history, Garza shares the victories and challenges she's experienced. Power, she writes, is the ability to affect the conditions of our own lives and the lives of others. Simply joining those who think like you is not how we gain power. "A movement is successful if it transforms the dynamics and relationships of power — from power being concentrated in the hands of a few to power being held by many." — Zenobia Jeffries Warfield
7. We Will Not Cancel Us
What happens when actions meant for good — to hold people who cause harm accountable — turn out harmful themselves? Leave it to adrienne maree brown to dive fearlessly and faithfully into perilous waters in her new short book We Will Not Cancel Us: And Other Dreams of Transformative Justice, the first in her Emergent Strategy Series. Instead of taking offense or simply shutting down, as many on the receiving end of call out and cancel culture have done, amb responded to critical comments to her blog post "Unthinkable Thoughts: Call Out Culture in the Age of COVID-19," in a loving, inquisitive, facilitating way and wrote a book about it.
"I have learned a lot more about some things I thought I knew," she writes "… I got clearer on the parts that were triggers for people… I homed in on what is within my expertise, and reaffirmed that celebrity activism is not my jam." We Will Not Cancel Us shares those lessons to help us all break the cycles of harm — be they intentional or unintentional. — Zenobia Jeffries Warfield
8. What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat
In a world where thinness reigns supreme and diet talk is as normal as talking about the weather, What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat is a much-needed addition to fat discourse. As a long-time fat activist, Aubrey Gordon seamlessly threads a personal narrative with data and history, examining the roots of anti-fat bias and the harm it causes. The book is accessible for folks who may not know much about anti-fatness. And for fat people, it's an incredibly validating and empowering read.
Particularly inspiring is Gordon's final chapter, in which she details her vision for a better, just, and equitable world. — Ayu Sutriasa
Reposted with permission from YES! Magazine.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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