Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth, by Mark Hertsgaard (2011)

Genre: Nonfiction
Interest level: Adult
Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on EarthI don’t think I’ve ever put a book down and felt grimly optimistic before. Perhaps desperate for optimism. Hertsgaard has been an environmental science journalist for 20 years, and has written a call to action – we can’t wait any longer, and even so it ain’t going to be fun. This is an impressive book aimed at the layperson. Early on, he explains climate change (and how it differs from global warming), adaptation versus mitigation, sea level rise and storm surges, the promise (and threat) of science, and my favourite new acronym, FMNR, which stands for Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration. I can’t wait to have a home with a decent yard to do my own FMNR and test it out. I also learned that a “one in 100-year flood” doesn’t mean a flood that happens every 100 years – it’s a flood that has a 1 in 100 chance of occurring in any given year. That explains why they can happen so close together – it’s a roll of the dice. I checked reviews on this book – most people complained it’s too depressing. An inconvenient truth, indeed. But they likely didn’t stick with it long enough. The first chapters do hit hard. But then he presents evidence of both failure (the Army Corps of Engineers and others in New Orleans and Florida) and success (King County here in the Pacific Northwest, farmers in Niger, the Dutch), showing that inaction is deadly, and that all of us can contribute if we are informed and motivated. That brings me to a point of criticism. I’m sure your curly-headed blonde daughter is a princess, Mr Hertsgaard, but honestly, you played that card just a few too many times. You wrote this for her. I get it. Enough already. We all have our reasons for wanting to leave this earth a better place than we found it. We don’t have to keep mentioning them every few pages.
There, that feels better. First-time parents. Gawd.
Do consider picking up this book. It’s informative, motivating and easy to read. The science is well explained, and it’s well written. Don’t let either the dark start or the reappearing daughter stop you. I’m counting on you.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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