Chicago-based startup Nature's Fynd is using the fungus to develop products from chicken nuggets to yogurt.
In 2009, a team of researchers discovered a previously unknown microbe in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park. Now, the fungus is the star ingredient in a new line of food products.
"It was very, very high in protein. And it's actually a very exciting protein because it's a complete protein," says Thomas Jonas, CEO of Nature's Fynd. "There are really not that many sources of complete protein out there."
Jonas's Chicago-based startup developed a process to ferment the fungus and create what's now called Fy protein. They're using it to make a variety of foods.
"So we've been able to make things that range from chicken nuggets, hamburgers, breakfast sausages to yogurts and cheese," Jonas says.
Earlier this year, the company offered a limited line of cream cheese and breakfast sausage on its website. Jonas says the products will soon be sold at stores.
He foresees growing demand for protein-filled foods produced more sustainably than meat and dairy.
"That whole supply chain is completely inefficient and using a tremendous amount of resources of land, of water, energy," he says.
So Jonas says Fy could provide a more climate-friendly alternative.
Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak / ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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By YCC Team
Climate change increases the risks of many health problems, such as heat stroke and asthma.
"Despite this... my peers and I, as we sat in our first-year medical school lecture halls, we really heard no mention of this whatsoever," says Emaline Laney, a student at the Emory University School of Medicine.
On their own time, Laney and another student studied the connections between climate change and health. And they looked for opportunities in their classes where these connections could be taught.
"We ended up really one by one going through every single lecture we ever went through throughout our medical school curriculum," she says.
They developed a proposal to integrate climate change content into the standard course of study for first-year medical students.
For example, in a class on geriatric medicine, students could learn about the growing risk of dehydration and heat stroke for older adults. When studying infectious diseases, they could learn how warming affects the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.
Emory University approved their proposal. So faculty and students are now working together to make sure tomorrow's physicians are better prepared to practice medicine in a warming world.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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We review SunPower's strengths and weaknesses to help you understand if it's the right company for you.
Solar industry leader SunPower consistently ranks as one of the best solar companies (and solar panel manufacturers) in the country. In this article, we'll take a look at why SunPower solar reviews are so positive and help you decide whether the company is a good fit for your home solar installation.
In recent years, SunPower has focused its business on commercial solar energy systems, but the company has since doubled down on the residential solar market. This is good news for homeowners, as SunPower offers some of the best solar panels and energy-related services on the market today.
|SunPower Solar Fast Facts|
|Service Areas||All 50 states, with Master Dealers in AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, LA, MD, MA, MI, NV, NJ, NY, OR, TX, UT|
|Service Types||Customized solar panel systems, complete with electric vehicle (EV) chargers and backup battery installations|
|Types of Panels Sold||SunPower manufactures its own high-efficiency monocrystalline panels|
|Backup Battery Options||SunPower SunVault™ Storage system|
|Certifications||Solar Energy Industries Association, Cradle to Cradle Sustainability, North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) technicians|
|Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating||A+ with accreditation|
The best way to figure out whether solar is a good investment for your home is to see how much an installation would cost. To receive a free, no-obligation quote from SunPower or a similar company in our network of pre-screened installers, fill out the 30-second form below.
SunPower has been in the solar business since 1985 and strives to provide a safe and reliable experience to customers. The San Jose-based manufacturer and installer currently offers services in every state. The BBB gives SunPower an A+ rating, which is above the industry average.
SunPower's greatest strength lies in the quality of its products, customer service and the comprehensiveness of the systems it designs and installs. SunPower has a product portfolio of high-efficiency solar panels manufactured by Maxeon, which recently spun out of SunPower to form its own entity. SunPower's Maxeon panels are some of the most efficient and durable solar panels on the market, and they're also the world's first solar panels to be Cradle to Cradle Certified safe, circular and responsibly made products.
With a strong foothold in manufacturing and commercial solar, SunPower has made moves to double down on its residential services; we expect big things. By acquiring Blue Raven Solar in October 2021, a young company with a reputation for excellent customer service and innovative financing options, SunPower demonstrates its commitment to expanding its share of the residential market.
SunPower Solar Services and Installation
SunPower's broad range of services set it apart from the competition. SunPower systems come complete with customized, fully integrated solar and storage platforms as well as add-ons like EV chargers. Unlike most other solar providers that offer products from varying manufacturers, SunPower's PV cells, panels, inverters, batteries and chargers are all produced in-house, are designed to work in tandem and are covered by the same warranty. This cohesion can simplify the process for SunPower's customers.
SunPower Solar Panels
SunPower offers four types of solar panels:
- A Series: Built with the newest Maxeon Gen 5 solar cells, the A Series is SunPower's premiere panel, delivering up to 22.7% efficiency with the world's first 400-watt panels.
- X Series: Built with Maxeon solar cells, X Series panels deliver up to 22.7% efficiency and have capacities up to 370 watts. These panels are perfect for space-constrained projects.
- E Series: Built with Maxeon solar cells, delivering up to 20% efficiency and available in 320, 327 or 435-watt panels, the E Series is a great all-around solar panel.
- P Series: These panels are built with SunPower's unique shingled solar cells. Up to 19% efficiency and available in a range of panels from 380 to 400 watts, P Series panels are optimized for large commercial projects.
SunPower Solar Storage
Unlike most other solar companies, which install third-party battery systems, SunPower offers customers its own SunVault Storage Systems to be paired with its solar panels. SunPro's SunVault Storage and Helix Storage (which is used in commercial installations) offer simple but powerful energy storage solutions.
These batteries are designed for day-to-day use and can significantly add to the amount of energy a customer is able to offset with SunPower solar panels. Best of all, these battery systems provide monitoring systems and backup power when the grid fails — something solar panels by themselves are incapable of.
For customers set on purchasing another brand's battery, there is no need to worry. SunPower panels pair well with other products like the Enphase Encharge and Tesla Powerwall batteries.
SunPower Solar Installation Process
SunPower prides itself on a smooth and easy customer process that can be carried out entirely remotely if preferable. Its intuitive design studio even lets you build your own solar system online from the comfort of your home, so you can see what solar looks like on your roof.
The installations themselves are carried out by partners within SunPower's nationwide network of certified solar installation contractors. SunPower chooses to hire contractors local to the region so that they can customize your solar system according to local weather patterns, building materials and city codes.
An average SunPower customer can expect the installation process to look like this:
- Free online estimate: By giving information about where you live, how much energy you use and your credit score, you can get a free online estimate from SunPower that includes the estimated system cost as well as projected 25-year energy savings.
- Solar consultation: If you want to move forward with SunPower after receiving your free quote, you can set up a free, virtual consultation with a SunPower representative. At this stage in the process, you have the chance to ask any questions about the system's design and how to meet your home's energy needs. After this, you'll receive a proposal.
- Complete paperwork and obtain solar permits and approvals: SunPower will apply for all permits and building approvals from your presiding city or county on your behalf. This process can take up to a few weeks. SunPower will also ensure you're enrolled in any eligible net metering programs.
- Solar system installation: SunPower will arrange for your system to be installed by one of its certified partners. Some states have technicians that are part of the company's Master Dealers program, which is an invite-only, rigorously selected list of SunPower dealers that best represent SunPower's brand. Installations typically take less than a day, depending on the complexity of the system.
- Inspections and permission to operate (PTO): After the system is installed, you'll need to wait until it's inspected by both your city and your utility company before you can turn it on. SunPower will arrange the inspections, and after your system passes, you can start using your solar power.
Solar Panel Warranty
A major benefit of the complete systems SunPower offers is that the entire solar energy project is covered by the same 25-year warranty. This comprehensive warranty guarantees 25 years of 92% output (most other companies are around 80%) and offers free repairs on any flaws in product performance, workmanship or defects.
SunPower's warranty is one of the best in the business, if not the best, and reflects the company's success in executing its core goals of providing a safe and reliable experience for customers.
SunPower Solar Costs and Financing
It's tough to predict the cost of solar for a single provider, as costs depend heavily on your location, home and energy needs. Though SunPower may have a slightly higher average price tag than some other providers, its business focuses on efficiency, and purchasing more efficient panels will save customers more in the long run.
Many small local solar installers offer discounts and deals to undercut big companies like SunPower. That's why it's smart to get quotes from multiple companies and compare them to see which installer offers the best solar panels at the most competitive price. Keep in mind the quality of panels you're considering, as the cheapest solar panels don't always provide the best value.
Financing Options Through SunPower Solar
SunPower offers three solar purchasing plans for customers, all backed by the SunPower 25-year warranty.
- Purchase in cash: Buying your system from SunPower outright will give you the shortest solar panel payback period and the highest return on your investment.
- Purchase with loan: With a third-party loan, customers can fund the purchase of their solar equipment and pay the loan off typically in five to 10 years. If you go this route, you still own the system, your solar panels will increase your property value and you'll be able to claim the federal solar tax credit. However, because of the interest you'll be paying and any applicable loan fees, this option is less advantageous than paying cash.
- Lease solar panels: SunPower offers solar leasing, which means the company retains ownership of the panels and you pay a monthly fee to purchase the power they generate. You don't have to pay much, if anything, for the installation, and your monthly payments are guaranteed to be lower than a typical power bill. But because you do not own the system, it won't add to your property value and you cannot claim the federal tax credit. This is the least advantageous option.
SunPower Solar Reviews
Similar to other larger solar operations, SunPower's size is both a strength and a weakness. Positive SunPower solar reviews praise the company's customer service, installation teams and system performance, yet communication troubles through a large bureaucracy have led to some negative feedback. Overall, it should be noted that SunPower reviews are largely positive.
Positive SunPower Reviews
Positive SunPower solar reviews reflect a successful commitment to its business model of good customer service, the best warranty in the business and highly efficient products. Positive reviews similar to those below usually reflect helpful representatives, consistent system performance and a company true to its warranty.
"We have had our panels for about six or seven years now, and they have performed as advertised. SunPower did replace the inverter several years ago with no fuss, no muss. I highly recommend SunPower for solar power generation." — Warren M via BBB
"My process took longer than expected due to unexpected issues. Throughout the process, the communication was good. They kept me up to date. All staff that came to my house were courteous and professional. They scheduled appointments around convenient times for me. Overall, it was a pleasant experience to get the system up and running. I would definitely recommend this team." — Linda S via BBB
Negative SunPower Reviews
Most of SunPower's negative reviews stem from issues within its chain of communication. SunPower is a massive organization, and at times some customers can feel lost in the shuffle. The company also outsources aspects of the work to local installers familiar with local ordinances, permitting and utility standards. This can lead to some customers wishing for one central point of contact.
Given the size of SunPower's operation, it has an impressively small number of negative customer reviews. Here are a couple of examples:
"We purchased a house that has a leased SunPower solar system. There is a one-time early buyout option that we are considering. SunPower has been impossibly unresponsive to our questions and concerns." — Mark W via BBB
"We've had solar panels for three years. This past May, we were notified that there was an issue with the panels. They have been to our house several times and still can't figure out the problem. They keep sending outside vendors to fix it but no solution." — Samira S via BBB
Our Take on SunPower Solar
SunPower's superior customer service, wide product offerings, complete systems and leading warranty make it one of the most trusted solar providers on the market today. SunPower has an A+ from the BBB and is taking concrete steps to improve any weaknesses to its business model by expanding its availability to homeowners through leases and improved financing options.
Overall, we recommend SunPower to homeowners whose priorities are simplicity, reliability and efficiency. The main downsides to SunPower stem from high initial costs, which can be offset by using high-efficiency products over time. However, some homeowners with plenty of space on their roofs may find better value in a lower-efficiency panel from a different company. Local competitors may also offer more competitive pricing to undercut the larger competition.
|SunPro Solar Pros||SunPro Solar Cons|
|Large service area||Above-average initial cost|
|High-efficiency systems with backup battery and EV charging services||Lack of customization with panel choice|
|Excellent customer service|
|Flexible financing and lease options|
Solar Energy Provider Comparison
To get a better understanding of our rating, let's look at SunPower compared to two other popular national providers: Sunpro Solar and Sunrun. SunPower typically ranks highly in customer services, service areas and warranty.
|Services Offered||Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring||Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring||Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring, maintenance|
|Service Areas||All 50 States||AZ, AR, CA, FL, GA, IL, IA, KS, LA, MS, MO, NE, NV, NM, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA||AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, VT, WI, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.|
|Payment Options||Cash, loan, lease||Cash, loan||Cash, loan, lease, power purchase agreement (PPA)|
FAQ: SunPower Solar Reviews
Is SunPower a good company?
SunPower is a leader in the solar energy market for customer service, warranty and panel efficiency. Whether SunPower is the best company for you will depend on your energy needs, but SunPower is a reputable solar company with an impressive track record of customer satisfaction.
Is SunPower going out of business?
This is a misconception. SunPower recently split into two companies, separating from its manufacturing arm now known as Maxeon. SunPower will continue to work closely with Maxeon by selling and installing its products but will focus its efforts more on expanding the services it offers to customers.
Does SunPower make the best solar panels?
SunPower makes some of the most efficient solar panels available today. Whether they are the best for your home will depend on your energy needs. High-efficiency solar panels are typically best suited for homes with limited amounts of roof space.
Are SunPower panels Tier 1?
SunPower's panels are Tier 1, which means they can be used for larger, utility-scale solar installations. Tier 1 panels are not necessarily higher quality than Tier 2 or 3 panels.
Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.
By Sarah Kennedy
Pattie Gonia is an environmentalist drag queen on a mission to build a more inclusive climate movement.
Pattie has more than 300,000 followers on Instagram, where she shares photos and videos of herself hiking and camping, both in and out of drag. She's posed next to an oil rig to push for fossil fuel divestment and created a gown made of actual trash to raise awareness about plastic pollution.
She uses her platform to challenge conventional representations of what a climate activist and outdoorsperson looks like and to speak up about environmental issues. She also brings LGBTQ+ people and allies together for in-person hikes and outdoor gatherings – helping create safe, inclusive communities of people who love nature and are committed to protecting it.
Out of drag, Pattie is Wyn Wiley, a professional photographer. Yale Climate Connections spoke with Wiley about how becoming Pattie has changed his life, building a climate movement that's rooted in creativity and joy, and creating sustainable drag fashion.
Yale Climate Connections: When did you first become passionate about the outdoors?
Wyn Wiley: I'm from Nebraska – the middle of everywhere – and growing up, nature to me was my grandma's farm. It was miles and miles of corn fields. It was my backyard. Some of my earliest childhood experiences were performing "Cats," the musical, jumping off of my swing set in my backyard, performing for an audience of literally no one.
Those were my first experiences really in the outdoors, which then translated into [in] middle school and high school being a part of Boy Scouts, which was a really toxic and really beautiful environment where I really got into backpacking for the first time and got into the outdoors, as it was told to me – that exclusive space of mountain tops and bagging peaks and surviving in the wilderness. And so that presented an interesting dissonance to my little childhood queer experiences of performing a musical in my backyard.
YCC: Tell me about how Pattie was born. What inspired you to post pictures of yourself in drag hiking and doing outdoor activities?
Wyn Wiley: Growing up in Nebraska as a queer person was an environment that made me be everything that I wasn't, to try to fit in – including after I came out. I came out of the closet and I was still hit with conditional love from everywhere in my life – of, "We love you but... never paint your nails. Never do drag. Never become trans."
And so I internalized that homophobia hard, and I internalized that toxic masculinity and for 10 years of my life as an openly gay male, I wasn't even allowing myself to be my true queer self and my true identity.
The first time I did drag, it was this unbelievable experience of femininity and beauty, and a complete side of myself that I had left on the sidelines for my whole entire life. And it was such a beautiful night.
But as life happens, photos and stories and the word got back to my home community, and I lost a lot of people. Actual clients canceled their work with me, and I had best friends that slowly just started to tiptoe out of my life. And it was so painful that I took these high-heeled boots that I wore that night, put them my closet, and said, "'F' this. It's too hard. It's too much. I don't want to do this. I'll just get back to living life as everyone else wants me to live."
And it wasn't until I was packing for a backpacking trip six months later that I was looking literally in my closet, and I saw those boots, and I saw this backpack, and I said 'Well, what if I just pack these boots into this backpack?' And so I did. And when we reached summit on this backpacking trip, I put those high-heeled boots on, started taking some photos, started taking some videos, and went home after that trip, edited this video on the couch next to my mom, posted it to this joke Instagram account, and woke up the next day to like 11 million views on the video. And it was just a very surreal experience. It was this moment of, am I going to choose myself or am I not?
When I think back to that experience of wearing high heels in the outdoors for the first time, I just remember feeling like, no one's out here to judge me. I think I told myself for forever that the queer experience is to run to metropolitan environments for safety, for community. And I think what Pattie has shown me in my life is that queer community exists in the outdoors. And the outdoors is such an essential place for any queer person to discover pieces of who they are, and to try out new versions of themselves – versions of themselves that are way more aligned than maybe the body they were born in or the identity that they have held onto because of society.
I really think that nature, if we're letting it do its thing, shows us that binaries don't exist. There is never just an either/or. And I think for a queer person to see that in nature – when I saw that in nature – my life changed.
YCC: Can you talk about how you include your environmentalism in your fashion choices as Pattie?
Wyn Wiley: I think that Mother Nature is the best designer on this planet. So much of my drag fashion is inspired by nature – is inspired by birds or butterflies or even natural patterns. I also really love queering normal outdoorsy tropes and doing variations on things like, what can I do to take this tent and turn it into a dress? Or how can I work with this incredible sustainable designer to make a dress that really represents this environmental issue or climate issue? So, for example, that could be anything from creating a dress out of different pieces of plastic and micro-plastics all the way to making a dress that literally turns into a fully functional tent. It really runs the gamut. But drag is such a fun playground, fashion is such a fun playground, to get to mirror my ethics in my art form.
With that said though, it's a struggle. It's something that I do not do perfectly. Most all wigs, if they're synthetic, are literally made of plastic. So I think about, "How can I use the same three or four wigs and style them different ways, or outfit repeat, or not buy new makeup but use the makeup I have until its last little bit?"
But having it be always on my mind, thinking about creative solutions, keeps it really fun and makes it a challenge within a challenge. Every drag look, every fashion moment, is already a creative challenge. But I feel like it adds another fun beautiful layer to figure out how we can be mindful of sustainability too.
YCC: How are you helping people break free from conventional expectations of who is supposed to be enjoying the outdoors, and how?
Wyn Wiley: For the longest time, the "outdoors" as we've known it has been weaponized against any sort of marginalized person, because we've been told that that's not for us, that that's not where we find people like ourselves – whether that's queer people, whether that's people of color, whether that's disabled people. So my work is mostly getting people connected to the outdoors.
One of the biggest joys in living life as Pattie has been building in-person community – whether that's on group hikes where we're taking groups of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 people out on the trail, often for the first time. Or whether that's organizing backpacking trips that are queer affinity spaces for queer people and non-binary people and trans people to get into the back country, often for the first time
Or whether that's meeting people where they're at in metropolitan environments, and really thinking about what it means to remove barriers of access to these "outdoor" experiences. What does it look like to take a group hike through a city or local park? What does it look like to host a panel in that park and not even hike at all? We're always just thinking about trying to switch it up and really trying to redefine what people view as outdoorsy.
I think that we really need to redefine what outdoor experiences are, because I know I can't get away all the time to go be surrounded by a mountainous landscape. I see so much beauty in a bird outside my window.
So I really want that for everyone. I want people to realize that no matter how nature appears in their life – you know, maybe it's literally a cornfield, just like it was for me, for a majority of your life – that's nature. And I think we can connect to it.
And I think that if we can get outdoors, if we can fall in love with nature, we're going to advocate even better for it. Because we fight for what we love.
YCC: What does a more inclusive climate movement look like to you?
Wyn Wiley: I feel like in my life I've viewed the climate movement from two completely different angles. I viewed it as an outsider before Pattie was born, when I was looking at the climate space as white and straight and privileged.
And now I feel like these awakenings that we're having across the world – about the importance of intersectionality, or about how much climate change disproportionately affects marginalized people – have made me realize that a future is possible in the climate movement where, when we're asking ourselves what we can do for climate, it is so much more than just going to grad school for climate and doing policy in DC – which is such an important world, but is never a world that I feel intersects with myself, and my life, and my unique abilities to make an impact.
When we ask ourselves what we can do for climate, I think if we start with questions like, what identities do we hold? What brings us joy? What's the work that needs to be done? What are we good at? If we can start with our ethnicity, our culture, our sexuality, our values and beliefs, as the deepest roots of our climate work, and that climate work reflects truly who we are, I think we're going to be even more motivated to chase it. I think if we think about what brings us joy and gets us out of bed in the morning and what skills we're good at – maybe that's photography, maybe that is deep climate research, maybe that's community organizing, maybe that's just being an incredible ally and supporting other people that are the leaders – these things all matter. So I think if we can intersect at those questions, we can arrive at an answer that truly will leave us even more motivated to do climate work and make it a longstanding piece of our lives.
And I think we really need to think about – no matter who we are in the climate movement – whether you are studying climate at Yale or whether you are doing field work or whether you're doing volunteering work – it is all about, how can we communicate the work we're doing to a community, to people to bring them in. And how can we create an environment and communication that doesn't have barriers around it? Because people aren't going to sit there and read a 40-page research paper. I think we really need to be thinking about the communication element, the collaboration element, and how we're sharing that story with the world, so that we can bring new people into the climate movement. At the end of the day, I really want to encourage every single person that does climate work to make it community-based and communicate the work that they're so passionate about with the world.
I think we need more creativity. I think we need more intersectionality. I think we need more diversity celebrated in the climate movement. And so I really think that it's on us and our privilege to really highlight and amplify the creativity of climate solutions that are being presented by some of the most diverse and affected people by climate change. And I also think it's on all of us as diverse people to be leading this climate movement.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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By Michael Svoboda, Ph.D.
Every summer there comes a lift when we finally escape the last cold snaps of spring, the final exams and papers of school, or the reports (and taxes) of the fiscal year. This year we are doubly buoyed by the easing of pandemic restrictions.
For such a time we want books that make us read briskly, connect us to nature, or, like vacations, take us to faraway places. Those who actually do travel, however, also want books that can be consumed in smaller pieces; stories and essays that can be finished in a single sitting.
YCC's 2021 summer list starts off with a nod to the start of hurricane season, celebrates the American edition of the nature diary by the young autistic Irishman Dara McAnulty, and applauds the release of the paperback edition for the sequel to Mark Lynas's climate classic, Six Degrees.
The next three books connect readers with nature – through animal songs, native plants, and their own genetic inheritances.
The last six books offer fictional journeys through our climate changed world. Some are short day trips or overnight stays. Others entail longer bookings, with multiple locations. One is paired with a movie, which may be appearing in a theater reopening near you soon. And at least two can be downloaded to your computer or tablet – one for free.
As always, the descriptions of the books are drawn from copy provided by the publishers. Where two dates of publication are included, the second is for the release of the paperback.
1. Angry Weather: Heat Waves, Floods, Storms, and the New Science of Climate Change, by Friederike Otto (Greystone Books 2020, 256 pages, $32.95)
Weather disasters are becoming more frequent each year, but not everyone agrees on what causes them. Renowned University of Oxford researcher Friederike Otto provides an answer with attribution science, a revolutionary method for pinpointing the role of climate change in extreme weather events. Anchoring her book with the gripping, day-by-day story of Hurricane Harvey, which caused over a hundred deaths and $125 billion in damage in 2017, Otto reveals how attribution science works in real time, and determines that Harvey's terrifying floods were three times more likely to occur due to human-induced climate change. The research laid out in this groundbreaking book will have profound impacts, both today and in the future.
2. Diary of a Young Naturalist, by Dara McAnulty (Milkweed Edition 2021 228 pages, $25.00)
"I was diagnosed with Asperger's/autism aged five … By age seven I knew I was very different, I got used to the isolation, my inability to break through into the world of talking about football. Then came the bullying. Nature became more than an escape; it became a life-support system." Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the turning of 15-year-old Dara McAnulty's world. Through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, Dara spent the seasons writing. These moving entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are raw in their telling. Diary of a Young Naturalist portrays Dara's intense connection to the natural world, and his perspective as a teenager juggling exams and friendships alongside a life of campaigning.
3. Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency, by Mark Lynas (HarperCollins 2020/2021, 384 pages, $17.99 paperback)
We are living in a climate emergency. But how much worse could it get? What kind of future can our children expect? Rigorously cataloguing the very latest climate science, Mark Lynas explores the course we have set for Earth over the next century and beyond. Degree by terrifying degree, he charts the likely consequences of global heating and the ensuing climate catastrophe. The escalating consequences of climate change can still be avoided, but time is running out. We must largely stop burning fossil fuels within a decade if we are to save the coral reefs and the Arctic. If we fail, then we risk crossing tipping points that could push global climate chaos out of humanity's control, turning billions into climate refugees. This really is our final warning.
4. Earth's Wild Music: Celebrating and Defending the Songs of the Natural Work, by Kathleen Dean Moore (CounterPoint 2021, 256 pages, $26.00)
Both joyous and somber, these new and selected essays span Kathleen Dean Moore's career as a tireless advocate for environmental activism in the face of climate change. Meditating on the music of the natural world, Moore celebrates the call of loons, howl of wolves, bellow of whales, laughter of children, and shriek of frogs, even as she warns of the threats against them. Each group of essays moves, as Moore herself has been moved, from celebration to lamentation to bewilderment and finally to the determination to act in defense of wild songs and the creatures who sing them. Music is the shivering urgency and exuberance of life ongoing. In a time of terrible silencing, Moore asks, who will forgive us if we do not save nature's songs?
5. Iwigara: The Kinship of Plants and People, by Enrique Salmón (Workman Publishing 2020, 248 pages, $34.95)
The belief that all life-forms are inter-connected and share the same breath – known in the Rarámuri tribe as iwígara – has resulted in a treasury of knowledge about the natural world, passed down for millennia by native cultures. Ethnobotanist Enrique Salmón builds on this concept of connection and highlights 80 plants revered by North America's indigenous peoples. Salmón teaches us the ways plants are used as food and medicine, the details of their identification and harvest, their important health benefits, plus their role in traditional stories and myths. Discover in these pages how the timeless wisdom of iwígara can enhance your own kinship with the natural world. Tap into thousands of years of plant knowledge.
6. Four-Fifths a Grizzly: A New Perspective on Nature that Just Might Save Us All, by Douglas Chadwick (Patagonia 2021, 256 pages, $27.95)
Veteran environmental writer Douglas Chadwick presents an engaging series of personal essays that argue for the amazing interconnectedness of nature, advocating that the path toward conservation begins with how we see our place in the world. Four-Fifths a Grizzly shows that human DNA is not all that different from any other creature. We have a surprisingly close relationship with grizzly bears, sharing 80 percent of our DNA, (versus 60 percent similar to salmon, 40 percent the same as many insects). At the same time, our bodies are teeming with organisms, separate from ourselves but upon which we depend for survival. In fun, accessible stories. Chadwick presents examples of successful recoveries of species and habitats, with the thought that "we really can save a whole lot in a hurry."
7. The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet, by John Green (Dutton 2021, 304 pages, $28.00)
The Anthropocene is the current geologic age, in which humans have profoundly reshaped the planet and its biodiversity. In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his groundbreaking podcast, bestselling author John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale, charting the contradictions of contemporary humanity. As a species, we are both far too powerful and not nearly powerful enough, a paradox that came into sharp focus as we faced a global pandemic that both separated us and bound us together. Green's gift for storytelling shines throughout this masterful collection. The Anthropocene Reviewed is a open-hearted exploration of the paths we forge and a celebration of falling in love with Earth.
8. The Living Sea of Waking Dreams, by Richard Flanagan (Penguin Random House 2021, 288 pages, $27.95)
Anna's aged mother is dying. Condemned by her children's pity to living, subjected to increasingly desperate medical interventions, she turns her focus to her hospital window, through which she escapes into visions of horror and delight. Anna too feels the pull of the window. She begins to see that all around her, others are similarly vanishing, yet no one else notices. All Anna can do is keep her mother alive. But the window keeps opening wider, taking Anna and the reader ever deeper into an eerily beautiful story of grief and possibility, of loss and love. Hailed as Richard Flanagan's greatest novel yet, The Living Sea of Waking Dreams reveals what remains when the inferno beckons: one part elegy, one part dream, one part hope.
9. Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction, Vol. III, edited by Angie Dell and Joey Eschrich, illustrations by Joao Queiroz (Arizona State University 2021, 138 pages, free download available here)
A collection of short stories by writers from around the world, exploring the climate crisis and how human responses to it will shape the futures we will inhabit. Everything Change, Volume III features stories in styles ranging from science fiction and fabulism to literary fiction, weird fiction, and action-thriller, all drawn from the 2020 Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest. The title Everything Change is drawn from a quote by Margaret Atwood, our first Imagination and Climate Futures lecturer in 2014. The contest and anthology are presented by the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University, a partnership of the Center for Science and the Imagination and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.
10. Lighting the Way: An Anthology of Short Plays about the Climate Crisis, edited by Chantal Bilodeau and Thomas Peterson (The Arctic Cycle 2020, 351 pages, $21.95 paperback)
Lighting the Way includes 49 inspiring plays by writers from around the world. The plays were commissioned for Climate Change Theatre Action 2019, a global distributed theatre festival that coincided with the 25th United Nations Conference of the Parties in Madrid. Contributors were charged to "give center stage to the unsung climate warriors and climate heroes lighting the way toward a just and sustainable future." Whether exploring visions of climate heroism, new tech-nologies like mango leather, or giving legal rights to nature, the plays go beyond the dystopian worlds and apocalyptic scenarios favored by blockbuster movies and sci-fi novels to tell nuanced and empowering stories – stories that give us the courage to fight for the world we all deserve.
11. The New Wilderness: A Novel, by Diane Cook (Harper 2020/2021, 416 pages, $17.00 paperback)
Bea's five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away, consumed by the smog and pollution of the overdeveloped metropolis that most of the population now calls home. If they stay in the city, Agnes will die. There is only one alternative: the Wilderness State, the last swath of untouched land. Bea, Agnes, and eighteen others volunteer to live in the Wilderness State, to see if humans can exist in nature without destroying it. Slowly and painfully, they learn to survive in a dangerous land, battling for power and control as they betray and save one another. At once a lament for our contempt for nature and a humane portrayal of what it means to be human, The New Wilderness is an extraordinary novel from a one-of-a-kind literary force.
12. The Dry: A Novel, by Jane Harper, Movie Tie-In Edition (Flatiron Books 2017/2020, 352 pages, $9.99 paperback)
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke's steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn't tell the truth. Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. Long-buried mysteries resurface. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden bigsecrets. The Dry is now a major motion picture from IFC films, starring Eric Bana.
Michael is a professor in the University Writing Program at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he has taught since 2005. Before completing his interdisciplinary Ph.D. at Penn State in 2002, Michael was the majority owner and senior manager of Svoboda's Books, an independent bookstore that served Penn State's University Park campus from 1983 to 2000.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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By Dana Nuccitelli
California, along with much of the rest of the western United States, is once again mired in drought. In fact, California has experienced significant drought conditions in 13 of the 22 years (60%) since the turn of the century.
A 2020 study in the journal Science concluded that 2000 through 2018 was the second-driest 19-year period in the U.S. Southwest in at least the past 1,200 years, and a 2014 paper in Geophysical Research Letters found that 2012 through 2014 was the driest three-year period in California over that same timeframe.
Nearly the entire state is currently in the 'severe' drought category or worse, and three-quarters is experiencing 'extreme' to 'exceptional' drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The consequences of drought in California are felt well outside the state's borders. California is effectively America's garden – it produces two-thirds of all fruits and nuts grown in the U.S. The state's agricultural industry generates $50 billion each year, which is more than the entire gross domestic products of Vermont and Wyoming, and as large as the economy of Alaska or Montana. California produces nearly all of the almonds, artichokes, avocados, broccoli, carrots, celery, kiwi, figs, garlic, grapes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, honeydew melons, nectarines, olives, pistachios, plums, tangerines, mandarins, and walnuts grown in the U.S. About 80% of all almonds in the world are grown in California: The state's almonds alone generate $6 billion annually. But nut trees are water-intensive (though notably less so than the alfalfa and pastureland grown for animal agriculture), and unlike seasonal crops, they cannot be fallowed in a dry year. Given the lack of water in 2021, some farmers have been forced to resort to tearing out valuable almond trees and instead planting less thirsty crops.
About 80% of the state's developed water use goes to the agriculture industry, so anyone who enjoys eating fruits and nuts should be concerned that climate change is increasing the odds of megadroughts permanently drying California.
Changing Climate Is Supercharging Southwestern Droughts
According to the 2020 study in Science cited earlier, human-caused climate change made southwestern drought conditions between 2000 and 2018 about 46% more intense than they would have been naturally, "pushing an otherwise moderate drought onto a trajectory comparable to the worst [U.S. southwest] megadroughts since 800 CE," the heyday of the Mayan civilization.
It's not just California; 96% of the western U.S. is currently experiencing drought conditions, including the entire states of Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. The drought conditions led Utah Governor Spencer Cox recently to urge the state's residents of all faiths to hold a "weekend of prayer" for rain.
Different Kinds of Drought
There are several different kinds of drought, all worsened by human activity. Dwindling soil moisture is known as "agricultural drought," and is exacerbated by the increased evaporation and transfer of moisture from land to the atmosphere that comes about in a warming climate.
A lack of rain and snow is called "meteorological drought." A 2018 study in Nature Climate Change used climate models to predict that California's precipitation patterns will shift in a hotter world, with more rain falling in the winter but less in spring and fall months, lengthening the state's dry season. This prediction was borne out in a 2021 study published in Geophysical Research Letters, with researchers finding that "the precipitation season has become shorter and sharper in California" since the 1960s.
"Snow drought" also plays a key role in California, 30% of whose water supply originates from the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains. As temperatures rise, more precipitation falls as rain and less as snow, and the snowpack melts more quickly in the late spring and early summer. A 2018 study in Geophysical Research Letters estimated that global warming has already shrunk the Sierra Nevada snowpack by about 20% and increased early-season runoff by 30%, and that each additional degree Celsius of warming will shrink the snowpack by about another 20%.
Snow drought in California can then lead to "hydrological drought," when water levels fall in rivers, lakes, and streams. In June 2021, California's reservoir water levels were about 40% below the historical average, and the snowpack was completely gone more than a month earlier than normal.
Extensive Drought Damages Felt Widely
In addition to its adverse impact on California agriculture, drought results in damaged forests, worse wildfires, reduced hydroelectricity generation, stressed fish populations, and depleted groundwater aquifers. According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment Report, the combination of worsening droughts and expanding bark beetle populations due to warming winters killed 7% of the western U.S. forest area over the past four decades.
The hotter and drier conditions during most of the year, combined with the dead trees, have created more fuel for wildfires, which the report concluded have burned twice as much area in the southwestern states over the past three decades as would have burned in the absence of human-caused climate change. The smoke from those wildfires is dangerously unhealthy to breathe, and in the record-shattering 2020 fire season, the wildfire smoke spread all the way to the U.S. east coast.
That same report found also that the severe drought between 2011 and 2015 reduced hydroelectricity generation in California by two-thirds. The water level in Lake Mead, the reservoir formed by Hoover Dam near Las Vegas, has fallen by 130 feet to its lowest level since its creation in 1936, and the reservoir has lost 60% of its water volume since 2000. As the National Assessment Report concluded, "The reduction of Lake Mead increases the risk of water shortages across much of the Southwest and reduces energy generation at the Hoover Dam hydroelectric plant."
The lack of surface water also threatens salmon and other fish species in California rivers. And it forces farmers to pump more water from groundwater aquifers, which leads to land subsidence that also stresses infrastructure.
As water resources experts at the Pacific Institute wrote earlier this month, there are steps that southwestern states can take to mitigate drought impacts, "including changes in the efficiency of urban and agricultural water uses, the expansion of non-traditional water sources like stormwater and recycled water, and voluntary changes in behavior." Curbing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels is of course the most important measure to lessen the threat of megadroughts in the future and their impacts on one of America's key food-producing states.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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By YCC Team
Until recently, giant seaweed called bull kelp formed lush underwater forests in northern California's coastal waters. These kelp forests have long provided critical habitat for many species like salmon, crabs, and jellyfish.
But now just a few patches of bull kelp remain.
"It's very desolate looking," says Meredith McPherson of UC Santa Cruz.
She was part of a team that studied satellite images of about 200 miles of California coastline. They found that starting in 2014, the area covered by kelp dropped by more than 95%.
She says the die-off was driven in part by an underwater heat wave, which depleted nutrients in the water and made it harder for the kelp to grow.
Compounding the problem, populations of purple sea urchins, which eat kelp, have exploded in the region.
In coming decades, more marine heat waves are expected.
"We know that these types of events – these warm water events and stronger El Niños – are going to become more common and frequent with climate change," McPherson says.
So she says warming waters and hungry urchins will make it harder for these kelp forests to survive.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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By Jeff Masters
Extremely dangerous Tropical Cyclone Tauktae made landfall in western India's Gujarat coast on the Arabian Sea around 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 UTC), May 17.
In its last advisory just after landfall, at 18 UTC, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) rated Tauktae a major category 3 storm with 125 mph winds (1-minute average). At 9 UTC, the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the official agency responsible for issuing tropical cyclone forecasts in the Indian Ocean, rated Tauktae an "extremely severe cyclonic storm" with peak winds of 115 mph (three-minute average), and a central pressure of 950 mb.
Satellite imagery (see Tweet by Scott Bachmeier) showed that Tauktae's structure had changed markedly just before landfall, with the eye growing more distinct and the thunderstorms in the eyewall growing more intense, with colder cloud tops.
As of 11 a.m. EDT May 17, ANI reported that Tauktae had killed six and injured nine in India. A barge owned by the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), moored to an oil drilling platform in the Heera oil fields (110 miles west-northwest of Mumbai), capsized on Monday, after breaking its mooring. Satellite imagery suggests that the eye of Tauktae passed directly over the site. Working in "challenging conditions," two ships have saved 88 of the 273 people on board the barge; recovery efforts continue. The cyclone likely brought severe wind damage where the eyewall winds hit, a portion of the coast not heavy populated by India's standards. The largest city in the region, Diu (population 52,000), recorded a wind gust of 83 mph (133 kph) in the weaker western eyewall of Tauktae at 12:30 EDT (9:30 p.m. local time). The winds were strong enough to bring down a cell phone tower in the nearby city of Una, Chintan Gandhi reported in a Tweet:
Mobile Tower collapsed due to #Tauktae here at UNA, District Gir Somnath. #CycloneTauktaeupdate #CycloneAlert https://t.co/iY9eVA9mya— Chintan gandhi (@Chintan gandhi) 1621271953.0
Perhaps the biggest threat from Tauktae is its storm surge, a threat that will continue for many hours past landfall. The Gulf of Khambhat, to the east of Tauktae's landfall location, is a funnel-shaped bay, ideal for concentrating storm surge water. IMD predicted that the storm surge could reach four meters (13 feet) at the head of the bay. Heavy rains causing flashing flooding and river flooding will also be a major concern all across northwestern India through Tuesday. Evacuation and recovery efforts for Tauktae's impact are sure to complicate India's ongoing severe COVID-19 pandemic in the region.
Figure 1. The top 10 strongest tropical cyclones observed in the Arabian Sea (the portion of the North Indian Ocean between India's west coast and the Middle East). Tauktae was the fifth-strongest Arabian Sea cyclone on record.
Tauktae the Fifth-Strongest Arabian Sea Cyclone on Record
Tropical Cyclone Tauktae reached peak intensity as a category 4 storm with 140 mph winds at 0 UTC, May 17, according to the JTWC. The fifth-strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Northern Indian Ocean's Arabian Sea, Tauktae is one of only six category 4+ cyclones on record in the Arabian Sea. IMD put Tauktae's peak intensity (occurring at 0 UTC, May 17), at 120 mph winds (three-minute average), with a central pressure of 950 mb. Accurate satellite goes back to 1998 for the Indian Ocean.
The JTWC does not assign landfall intensities, but if one considers the six-hourly advisory before landfall (or at landfall), Tauktae is tied as the strongest landfalling Arabian Sea cyclone on record: the top five, according to the JTWC (available at the NOAA Historical Hurricane Tracks database):
1. 125 mph, May 20, 1999, Cyclone 02A/ARB 01, Gujarat State, India
1. 125 mph, May 17, 2021, Cyclone Tauktae, Gujarat State, India
3. 120 mph, June 3, 2010, Cyclone Phet, Oman
3. 120 mph, June 9, 1998, Cyclone 03A/ARB 02, Gujarat State, India
5. 105 mph, June 6, 2007, Cyclone Gonu, Oman
Figure 2. Tracks of all tropical cyclones that have reached at least category 3 strength (1-minute sustained winds of 115 mph or greater) in the Arabian Sea. Only six cyclones have attained category 4 strength (including Tauktae). The one category 5 storm on record was Tropical Cyclone Gonu in 2007 NOAA Historical Hurricane Tracks database
Tauktae Spares Major Metro Area of Mumbai
On Monday, Tauktae passed only 85 miles (140 km) west-southwest of Mumbai, India, the seventh-most populated city in the world (metro area population 20 million). A direct hit clearly could have been catastrophic. According to a 2019 study led by Dr. Adam Sobel, "Tropical Cyclone Hazard to Mumbai in the Recent Historical Climate," a category 3 or stronger cyclone passing within 150 km of the city is estimated to be a 1-in-500-year event (a 0.2% chance of occurring in any particular year). That research did not address how climate change may be impacting these odds, but noted that "the hazard to the city is likely to be increasing because of sea-level rise as well as changes in storm climatology."
#WATCH | Maharashtra: Arabian Sea turns rough, in wake of #CycloneTaukte. Visuals from Marine Drive in Mumbai. https://t.co/ovbFFJPruQ— ANI (@ANI) 1621249794.0
Cyclones affecting Mumbai are very rare, as prevailing steering currents tend to drive storms northward and westward rather than eastward onto India's west coast. Mumbai has had only one landfall by a storm at tropical storm strength on record, an unnamed 1940 system (though Adam Sobel has documented a possible hurricane-strength Bombay cyclone in 1948, which killed at least 12 people). (An 1882 Bombay cyclone reputed to have killed 100,000 people in the city was a hoax.)
Tauktae brought winds gusting as high as 71 mph (114 kph) to Mumbai at 2 p.m. local time Monday. Heavy rains also affected the city, with the Mumbai Mesonet showing two stations receiving over 200 mm of rain in less than 24 hours. The 308.5 mm (12.15") that fell at the Ram Mandir location as of 5 p.m. EDT, May 17, set a new 24-hour precipitation record for May. The previous May record 24-hour precipitation for the city (since 1981) was 190.8 mm (7.51"), set on May 19, 2000.
Figure 3. Winds of Cyclone Tauktae from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) at 1:03 UTC, May 17, 2021. Winds as high as 81 knots (93 mph) were measured.NOAA STAR – Center for Satellite Applications and Research
Climate Change Is Increasing Threat of Powerful Arabian Sea Tropical Cyclones
The North Indian Ocean has two tropical cyclone seasons – one centered in May, before the onset of the monsoon, and one centered in October/November, after the monsoon has waned. During the June-September peak of the monsoon, tropical cyclones are uncommon because of interference from the monsoon circulation. Since the introduction of reliable satellite data in 1998 over the Indian Ocean, no category 4 or stronger cyclones were observed until 2010. Since then, six such storms have formed (including Tauktae).
This unprecedented shift in tropical cyclone activity led to a 2017 modeling study by Murakami et al. which concluded that human-caused climate change had increased the probability of powerful tropical cyclones over the Arabian Sea during the post-monsoon period (October/November), and that this risk would increase further in the future – with potentially damaging consequences to the nations bordering the Arabian Sea. In a 2018 review paper ("Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change Assessment: Part I. Detection and Attribution"), all 11 hurricane scientist authors concluded that the balance of evidence suggests that there was a detectable increase in post-monsoon extremely severe cyclonic storms in the Arabian Sea during the 1998 – 2015 period; 8 of 11 authors concluded that human-caused climate change contributed to the increase.
Tauktae formed during the pre-monsoon season (May), so these conclusions do not directly apply to the storm. However, 10 of 11 authors of the 2018 review paper concluded that the balance of evidence suggests that there is a detectable increase in the worldwide average intensity of global hurricanes since the early 1980s. Eight of the 11 authors concluded that human-caused climate change contributed to that increase.
A heads-up: The 12Z May 17 run of the GFS model and the 0Z May 17 run of the European model predicted that the North Indian Ocean's Bay of Bengal would experience a hurricane-strength cyclone in the week of May 23-29.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
By Michael Svoboda
For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.
The earliest Earth Days raised awareness, led to passage of new laws, and spurred conservation. But the original problems are still with us. And now they intersect with climate change, making it impossible to address one problem without affecting the others.
The 12 books listed below remind us about these defining interconnections.
The first three focus on biodiversity and on humanity's fractured relationships with the animals we live with on land.
The second trio explores the oceans and, at the same time, considers social and cultural factors that determine what we know – and don't know – about the 75% of our planet that is covered by water, perhaps the least well understood part of the climate system.
Agriculture and food security are examined by the third tranche of titles. This set includes a biography that may challenge what you think was/is possible, culturally and politically, in the American system.
Finally, there is the problem of waste, the problem of single-use plastics in particular. These three titles offer practical advice and qualified hope. Reducing litter might also reduce emissions – and vice versa.
As always, the descriptions of the works listed below are drawn from copy provided by the publishers or organizations that released them. When two dates of publication are included, the latter is for the paperback edition.
A Life on Our Planet My Witness Statement and Vision for the Future, by David Attenborough (Grand Central Publishing 2020, 272 pages, $26.00)
See the world. Then make it better. I am 93. I've had an extraordinary life. It's only now that I appreciate how extraordinary. As a young man, I felt I was out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world – but it was an illusion. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day – the loss of our planet's wild places, its bio-diversity. I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake – and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right. We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited. All we need is the will to do so.
Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction, by Michelle Nijhuis (W.W. Norton 2021, 352 pages, $27.95)
In the late 19th century, as humans came to realize that our industrializing and globalizing societies were driving other animal species to extinction, a movement to conserve them was born. In Beloved Beasts, science journalist Michelle Nijhuis traces the movement's history. She describes the vital role of scientists and activists such as Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson; she reveals the origins of organizations like the Audubon Society and the World Wildlife Fund; she explores current efforts to protect species; and she confronts the darker side of conservation, long shadowed by racism and colonialism. As the destruction of other species continues and the effects of climate change escalate, Beloved Beasts charts the ways conservation is becoming a movement for the protection of all species – including our own.
How to Be an Animal: A New History of What It Means to Be Human, by Melanie Challenger (Penguin Random House 2021, 272 pages, $17.00 paperback)
How to Be an Animal tells a remarkable story of what it means to be human and argues that at the heart of our existence is a profound struggle with being animal. We possess a psychology that seeks separation between humanity and the rest of nature, and we have invented grand ideologies to magnify this. In her book, nature historian Melanie Challenger explores the ways this mindset affects our lives, from our politics to our environments. She examines how technology influences our relationship with our own animal nature and with the other species with whom we share this fragile planet. Blending nature writing, history, and philosophy, How to Be an Animal both reappraises what it means to be human and robustly defends what it means to be an animal.
Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean's Biggest Secret, by Jess Keating, Illustrated by Katie Hickey (Tundra Books 2020, 34 pages, $17.99)
From a young age, Marie Tharp loved watching the world. She loved solving problems. And she loved pushing the limits of what girls and women were expected to do and be. In the mid-twentieth century, women were not welcome in the sciences, but Marie was tenacious. She got a job at a laboratory in New York. But then she faced another barrier: women were not allowed on the research ships (they were considered bad luck on boats). So Marie stayed back and dove deep into the data her colleagues recorded. At first the scientific community refused to believe her, but her evidence was irrefutable. The mid-ocean ridge that Marie discovered is the single largest geographic feature on the planet, and she mapped it all from her small, cramped office.
Science on a Mission: How Military Funding Shaped What We Do and Don't Know about the Ocean, by Naomi Oreskes (University of Chicago Press 2021, 744 pages, $40.00)
What difference does it make who pays for science? After World War II, the US military turned to a new, uncharted theater of warfare: the deep sea. The earth sciences – particularly physical oceanography and marine geophysics – became essential to the US Navy, which poured unprecedented money and logistical support into their study. In Science on a Mission, historian Naomi Oreskes delves into the role of patronage in science, what emerges is a vivid portrait of how naval oversight transformed what we know about the sea. It is a detailed, sweeping history that illuminates the ways funding shapes the subject, scope, and tenor of research, and it raises profound questions about American science. What difference does it make who pays? A lot.
Dark Side of the Ocean: The Destruction of Our Seas, Why It Matters, and What We Can Do About It, by Albert Bates (Groundswell Books 2020, 158 pages, $12.95 paperback)
Our oceans face levels of devastation previously unknown in human history due to pollution, overfishing, and damage to delicate aquatic ecosystems affected by global warming. Climate author Albert Bates explains how ocean life maintains adequate oxygen levels, prevents erosion from storms, and sustains a vital food source that factory-fishing operations cannot match. Bates also profiles organizations dedicated to changing the human impact on marine reserves, improving ocean permaculture, and putting the brakes on heat waves that destroy sea life and imperil human habitation at the ocean's edge. The Dark Side of the Ocean conveys a deep appreciation for the fragile nature of the ocean's majesty and compels us to act now to preserve it.
The Planter of Modern Life: Louis Bromfield and the Seeds of a Food Revolution, by Stephen Heyman (W.W. Norton 2020, 352 pages, $26.95)
Louis Bromfield was a World War I ambulance driver, a Paris expat, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist as famous in the 1920s as Hemingway. But he cashed in his literary success to finance a wild agrarian dream in his native Ohio. There, in 1938, Bromfield transformed 600 badly eroded acres into a thriving cooperative farm, which became a mecca for agricultural pioneers and a country retreat for celebrities like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. This sweeping biography unearths a lost icon of American culture. While Bromfield's name has faded into obscurity, his mission seems more critical today than ever before. The ideas he planted at his utopian experimental farm, Malabar, would inspire America's first generation of organic farmers and popularize the tenets of environmentalism years before Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.
Food Fights: How History Matters to Contemporary Food Debates, edited by Charles C. Ludington and Matthew Morse Booker (University of North Carolina Press 2019, 304 pages, $32.95 paperback)
What we eat, where it is from, and how it is produced are vital questions in today's America. We think seriously about food because it is freighted with the hopes, fears, and anxieties of modern life. Yet critiques of food and food systems all too often sprawl into jeremiads against modernity itself, while supporters of the status quo refuse to acknowledge the problems with today's methods of food production and distribution. Food Fights sheds new light on these crucial debates, using a historical lens. Its essays take strong positions, even arguing with one another, as they explore the many themes and tensions that define how we understand our food – from the promises and failures of agricultural technology to the politics of taste.
Our Changing Menu: Climate Change and the Foods We Love and Need, by Michael P. Hoffmann, Carrie Koplinka-Loehr, and Danielle L. Eiseman (Comstock Publishing Associates 2021, 264 pages, $21.95 paperback)
Our Changing Menu unpacks the increasingly complex relationships between food and climate change. In it, Michael Hoffmann, Carrie Koplinka-Loehr, and Danielle Eiseman offer an eye-opening journey through a complete menu of before-dinner drinks and salads; main courses and sides; and coffee and dessert. Along the way, they examine the escalating changes occurring to the flavors of spices and teas, the yields of wheat, the vitamins in rice, and the price of vanilla. Their story ends with a primer on the global food system, the causes and impacts of climate change, and what we can do. Our Changing Menu is a celebration of food and a call to all – from the common ground of food – to help tackle the greatest challenge of our time.
Plastic Free: The Inspiring Story of a Global Environmental Movement and Why It Matters, by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz and Joanna Atherhold Finn (Columbia University Press 2020, 272 pages, $28.00)
In July 2011, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz challenged herself and some friends to go plastic free for the whole month. Since then, the Plastic Free July movement has grown from a small group of people in the city of Perth into a 250-million strong community across 177 countries. Plastic Free tells the story of this world-leading environmental campaign. From narrating marine-debris research expeditions to tracking what actually happens to our waste to sharing insights from behavioral research, Plastic Free speaks to the massive scale of the plastic waste problem and how we can tackle it together. Interweaving interviews from participants, activists, and experts, it tells the inspiring story of how ordinary people have created change in their homes, communities, workplaces, schools, businesses, and beyond. Plastic Fee offers hope for the future.
Can I Recycle This? A Guide to Better Recycling and How to Reduce Single Use Plastics, by Jennie Romer (Penguin Books 2021, 272 pages, $22.00)
Since the dawn of the recycling system, men and women the world over have stood by their bins, holding an everyday object, wondering, "Can I recycle this?" This simple question links our concerns for the environment with how we interact with our local governments. Recycling rules seem to differ in every municipality, leaving average Americans scratching their heads at the simple act of throwing something away. Taking readers on an informative tour of how recycling actually works (setting aside the propaganda we were all taught as kids), Can I Recycle This gives straightforward answers to whether dozens of common household objects can be recycled. And it provides the information you need to make that decision for anything else you encounter.
Zero Waste Living: The 80/20 Way: The Busy Person's Guide to a Lighter Footprint, by Stephanie J. Miller (Changemaker Books 2020, 112 pages, $10.95 paperback)
Many of us feel powerless to solve the looming climate and waste crises. We have too much on our plates, and so may think these problems are better solved by governments and businesses. This book unlocks the potential in each "too busy" individual to be a crucial part of the solution. Stephanie Miller combines her climate-focused career with her own research and personal experience to show how relatively easy lifestyle changes can create significant positive impacts. Using the simplicity of the 80/20 rule, she shows us those things (the 20%) that we can do to make the biggest (80%) difference in reversing the climate and waste crises. Her book empowers busy individuals to do the easy things that have a real impact on the climate and waste crises.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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Champion NASCAR drivers recently had a chance to test a new Ford vehicle.
It has seven motors in it. It has 1,400 horsepower. And it's electric.
Mark Rushbrook is global director of Ford Performance Motorsports. The company developed a racing version of its all-electric Mustang Mach-E crossover.
"It pushes everything to the extreme to really show what the potential is of this platform and for electric power trains," he says.
The prototype is not street-legal, and it's not competing in races. But the company is using it to showcase what an EV can do.
"You feel that almost instantaneous torque going from a standing start, and it is just a very sustained high rate of acceleration," Rushbrook says. "Even our NASCAR drivers that drive very high-power internal combustion engine race cars … they just come out smiling and excited about what the future is."
The car may be a one-off, but Ford says its commitment to EVs is not. The company recently announced that it's increasing its investment in EVs to $22 billion.
So, Rushbrook says Ford wants to get people thinking about EVs not only as good for the climate, but as fun, fast, and powerful cars.
Last year, COVID-19 lockdowns forced many restaurants to close and events to be canceled at the last minute, so a lot of food that was already purchased stood to be wasted.
"There were a lot of businesses that were faced with that harsh reality that they just had so much food that could not be utilized," says Phil Acosta of Aloha Harvest, a Hawaiian food rescue organization.
The group quickly mobilized to collect that food and distribute it to people in need.
As the pandemic wore on, chefs whose restaurants were closed rushed to help meet the growing demand. Aloha Harvest partnered with an organization called Chef Hui.
"And we started to prepare foods and get that out to the community – so, ready-to-eat, ready-to-heat type of meals," Acosta says.
Rescuing food not only helps feed people. It can also reduce global warming pollution because less food needs to be grown, packaged, and shipped. And less waste ends up rotting in landfills and releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
"We want to make sure that everything that's produced is consumed in some way and not wasted," Acosta says. "We need to do a much better job of utilizing our precious food resources."
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
By Michael Svoboda
To honor Women's History Month, Yale Climate Connections's March bookshelf presents a selection of new and recent titles on how women are changing the politics and prospects for action on climate change.
Three books focus on the efforts of young women. Another four books offer the seasoned perspectives of veteran activists, organizers, and/or journalists, including Jane Fonda and Elizabeth Kolbert.
Rounding out the collection are a natural history/memoir by New York Times columnist Margaret Renkl, two cli-fi novels, an academic appraisal of "the new climate activism," and an NGO report on the importance of gender diversity for climate innovation.
As always, the descriptions of the works listed below are drawn from copy provided by the publishers or organizations that released them. When two dates of publication are listed, the latter is for the paperback edition.
No Planet B: A Teen Vogue Guide to the Climate Crisis, edited by Lucy Diavolo (Haymarket Books 2021, 248 pages, $15.95 paperback)
As the political classes watch our world burn, a new movement of young people is rising to meet the challenge of climate catastrophe. An urgent call for climate justice from Teen Vogue, one of this generation's leading voices, this book is a guide, a toolkit, a warning and a cause for hope.
"I hope that this book embodies Teen Vogue's motto of making young people feel seen and heard all over the world. I hope that it forces their parents, communities, loved ones, friends, and – most importantly – those in power to see that the health of our planet depends on how quickly and drastically we change our behaviors. I hope it forces them all to respond." – From the foreword by Teen Vogue editor-in-chief, Lindsay Peoples Wagner
Girl Warriors: How 25 Young Activists Are Saving the World, by Rachel Sarah (Chicago Review Press 2021, 192 pages, $16.99 paperback)
Girl Warriors tells the stories of 25 climate leaders under age 25. These fearless girls and young women from all over the world are standing up to demand change when no one else is. They've led hundreds of thousands of people in climate strikes, founded non-profits, given TED talks, and sued their governments. A rousing call to action, this book will leave you feeling hopeful that we can make a difference in an age of turmoil, destruction, and uncertainty. "It gives me true hope to read about the phenomenal young women of Girl Warriors. Their fierce commitment to the future of our precious planet is as inspiring as it is vital." – Kate Schatz, New York Times bestselling author of Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide(
Editor's note: YCC's March 2020 bookshelf included seven titles by or about Greta Thunberg.)
What Can I Do? From Climate Despair to Action, by Jane Fonda (Penguin Random House 2020, 352 pages, $30.00)
In the fall of 2019, frustrated with the obvious inaction of politicians and inspired by Greta Thunberg and student climate strikers, Jane Fonda moved to Washington, D.C., to lead weekly climate change demonstrations on Capitol Hill. On October 11, she launched Fire Drill Fridays, and has since led thousands of people in nonviolent civil disobedience. In What Can I Do?, Fonda weaves her deeply personal journey as an activist with conversations and speeches by leading climate scientists and inspiring community organizers. She dives deep into issues – like water, migration, and human rights – to emphasize what is at stake. More, Fonda equips us with the tools we need to join her in protest, so that everyone can work to combat the climate crisis.
(Editor's note: 100% of the author's net proceeds from What Can I Do? go to Greenpeace.)
Who Cares Wins: Reasons for Optimisms in Our Changing World, by Lily Cole (Rizzoli 2020, 480 pages, $35.00)
The climate crisis, mass extinctions, political polarization, extreme inequality – the world faces terrifying challenges that threaten to divide us. Yet activist and filmmaker Lily Cole argues that it is up to us to actively choose optimism, collaborate, make changes, and define what is possible: "We are the ancestors of our future. The choices we make now and the actions we take today will define and transform future generations." Cole explores divisive issues from fast fashion to fast food and from renewable energy to gender equality, and interviews some of today's greatest influencers. The book also features a 32-page photo insert documenting Lily's experiences and vision, as well as the artists, activists, and others who have inspired her.
The New Climate Activism: NGO Authority and Participation in Climate Change Governance, by Jen Iris Allan (University of Toronto Press 2021, 226 pages, $32.95 paperback)
At the 2019 UN climate change conference, activists and delegates from groups representing Indigenous, youth, women, and labor rights were among those marching through the halls chanting "Climate Justice, People Power." In The New Climate Activism, Jen Iris Allan looks at why and how these social activists came to participate in climate change governance while others remain outside of climate activism. As a result, concepts such as gender mainstreaming, just transition, and climate justice are common terms, while human rights and health remain "fringe issues" in climate change governance. The New Climate Activism explores why and how some activists brought their issues to climate change, and succeeded, while others did not.
Cool: Women Leaders Reversing Global Warming, by Paola Gianturco and Avery Sangster (Powerhouse Books 2021, 192 pages, $39.95)
Women are especially effective leaders when it comes to combating global warming. Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, architects of the 2015 Paris Agreement, report that "Nations with greater female representation in positions of power have smaller climate footprints. Companies with women on their executive boards are more likely to invest in renewable energy and develop products that help solve the climate crisis." For this book, Paola Gianturco and her granddaughter and co-author, Avery Sangster, interviewed and photographed women leaders, of organizations public and private, from around the world. COOL tells their inspiring stories in their own words and suggests actions you can take to join them on this existential journey.
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson (Penguin Random House 2020, 448 pages, $29.00)
There is a renaissance blooming in the climate movement: leadership that is more characteristically feminine and more faithfully feminist, rooted in compassion, connection, creativity, and collaboration. All We Can Save illuminates the expertise and insights of dozens of diverse women leading on climate in the United States – scientists, journalists, farmers, lawyers, teachers, activists, and designers, across generations, geographies, and race – and aims to advance a more representative and solution-oriented public conversation on the climate crisis. Curated by two climate leaders and intermixing essays with poetry and art, this book is both a balm and a guide, bolstering our resolve never to give up on one another or our collective future.
A proportion of 30% or more for women on corporate boards has shown a positive correlation with better climate governance and innovation in the global electric utilities, oil and gas, and mining sectors over the last four years, according to a new report by BloombergNEF and Sasakawa Peace Foundation. Gender diversity does not directly contribute to lowering emissions, but integrated oil companies with higher female representation at the board level, for example, are also more likely to have a set of decarbonization strategies and to have invested in digitalization activities. Gender Diversity and Climate Innovation examines the impact of gender diversity on climate governance, climate performance, innovation, and climate innovation.
(Editor's note: See also the report just released by Sustainable Policy Institute, Gender Balance Index 2021.)
Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, by Elizabeth Kolbert (Penguin Random House 2021, 256 pages, $28.00)
In Under a White Sky, Elizabeth Kolbert takes a hard look at the new world we are creating. Along the way, she meets biologists who are trying to preserve the world's rarest fish, which lives in a single tiny pool in the middle of the Mojave; engineers who are turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland; Australian researchers who are trying to develop a "super coral" that can survive on a hotter globe; and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth. One way to look at human civilization, says Kolbert, is as a ten-thousand-year exercise in defying nature. By turns inspiring, terrifying, and darkly comic, Under a White Sky is an utterly original examination of the challenges we face.
Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss, by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions 2021, 248 pages, $16.95 paperback)
From New York Times opinion writer Margaret Renkl comes an unusual, captivating portrait of a family – and of the cycles of joy and grief that inscribe human lives within the natural world. Growing up in Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Ringing with rapture and heartache, Renkl's linked essays convey the dignity of bluebirds and rat snakes, monarch butterflies and native bees. Renkl suggests that there is astonishment to be found in common things – in what seems ordinary, in what we all share. Illustrated by Billy Renkl, Late Migrations is an assured and memorable debut. (Editor's note: A companion volume, Graceland at Last, will be published in September.)
Migrations: A Novel, by Charlotte McConaghy (Flatiron Books 2020, 272 pages, $26.99)
Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who is able to love but unable to stay. Leaving behind everything but her research gear, she arrives in Greenland with a singular purpose: to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat, and she and the crew set sail, traveling ever further from shore and safety. But as Franny's history begins to unspool, it becomes clear that she is chasing more than just the birds. How much is she willing to risk for one more chance at redemption? Epic and intimate, Charlotte McConaghy's Migrations is an ode to a disappearing world and a breathtaking page-turner about the possibility of hope against all odds.
(Editor's note: Readers can find YCC's interview with the author, by Amy Brady, here.)
High as the Waters Rise: A Novel, by Anja Kampmann, translated by Anne Posten (Penguin Random House 2020, 320 pages, $26.00)
One night aboard an oil drilling platform in the Atlantic, Waclaw returns to his cabin to find that his bunkmate and companion, Mátyás, has gone missing. A search of the rig confirms his fear that Mátyás has fallen into the sea. Grief–stricken, he embarks on an epic emotional and physical journey that takes him to Morocco, to Mátyás's hometown in Hungary, and finally to the mining town of his childhood in Germany. Waclaw's encounters along the way with other lost and yearning souls bring us closer to his origins. High as the Waters Rise is a stirring exploration of male intimacy, the nature of grief, and the cost of freedom. It's the story of a man who stands at the margins of a society from which he has little profited, even though it depends on his labor.
(Editor's note: Readers can find YCC's interview with the author, by Amy Brady, here.)
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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Every year, humpback whales migrate from polar regions to warmer waters, where they mate, give birth, raise their calves, and amaze whale watchers.
"It's about just seeing a whale, seeing some of the acrobatic surface activity, from breaching and tail slapping … to bulls chasing females, even calves being born in the area," says Olaf Meynecke of Australia's Griffith University Whales and Climate Research Program.
He says eastern Australia is a hotspot for seeing the majestic animals.
But as the climate warms, migration timing is changing. For example, in Queensland's Hervey Bay, humpbacks often arrive and leave earlier than in the past.
At the end of the season, tour boats sometimes have trouble even finding a whale.
"On top of that, we also of course have higher uncertainty in terms of weather," Maynecke says. "We actually started to get a lot more rain in the dry season because the ocean is still so warm."
That can make for a wet, uncomfortable day at sea.
Meynecke says whale-watching businesses will need to find ways to adapt – for example, by shifting the season dates or offering flexible bookings – so they can keep satisfying their customers, even as the climate warms.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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