Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


Book Banter: This Earth Day, take a closer look at climate change – Napa Valley Register


Those of us who live in the Napa Valley are no strangers to the effects of climate change. Last summer and fall’s extreme heat and devastating wildfires — along with drought, floods, hurricanes, and fires worldwide — should be enough to convince even the most skeptical that the earth is heating up. But what is climate change, really? And what is meant by global warming? How can an ocean temperature rise of just a few degrees cause climate catastrophes?

It’s easy to get confused, overwhelmed, and downright depressed about the climate crisis. But thanks to research being done by scientists, environmentalists, journalists, and entrepreneurs, there are many books available that break down some of the most pressing climate issues into understandable bites that provide an overview of the different kinds of environmental concerns.

Simple and succinct

For a clear picture of climate change, the forces that have blocked action on it, and those that have arisen to confront it, “Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History” by Ted Steinberg is an easy and fascinating read that helps to explain how the country got to where we are today with regard to global warming.

Another simple, informative yet succinct book about the nature of climate change is “The No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change” by Danny Chivers. Its engaging, readable prose will bring you up to speed on the climate crisis and potential actions we can take to combat it.

Another brief, scientifically sound book on climate is “What We Know About Climate Change” by MIT climatologist Kerry Emanuel. In an updated version of this book, Emanuel outlines the science of global warming and warns that unchecked, it will contribute to an increase in the power of hurricanes, flooding and more rapidly advancing deserts. Emanuel makes a plea for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gases and criticizes the media for downplaying the dangers of global warning.

Where there’s smoke

Of course just the mention of fire season pushes all of our panic buttons in the wine country. While our city, county, and other private and government organizations are working on ways to prevent and put out wildfires, several books have been written that can help us better comprehend these terrifying events.

“Fire in Paradise” is a dramatic narrative by Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano, California-based journalists who conducted hundreds of in-depth interviews with residents, firefighters and police, and scientific experts after the fire in Paradise, CA. The two reveal the heroics of the first responders, the amazing escapes of those who got out of Paradise, and the tragedy of those who were trapped. While it doesn’t offer fire prevention tips, the book tells the story of the fierce new kind of fire behavior that firefighters must contend with now.

Award-winning nature writer Gary Ferguson’s “Land on Fire” explores the science behind the fire storms and the ongoing research to find a solution. The book details how years of fire suppression and chronic drought have combined to create this untenable situation. His dramatic narrative chronicles firefighters’ efforts and explains how nature reacts in the aftermath of the fires. Vivid photographs reveal the destructive and yet oddly beautiful effect of the flames and the desolation of the burnt landscape.

Moving from California all the way to subtropical Florida and everywhere in between, “To the Last Smoke: An Anthology” by Stephen J. Pyne explores the nation’s past wildfires region by region. Author of “Between Two Fires: A History of Contemporary America” and “Fire in America,” Pyne has selected a sample from each of his nine previous volumes to offer a sweeping view of the country’s fire scene. This readable anthology takes a look at wildfires in California, the Northern Rockies, the Southwest, the Interior West, the Rockies, the Great Plains, Florida, the Northeast, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest.

For a teachable moment, check out the anthology “California Fire & Water” by former Nevada County Poet Laureate Molly Fisk. She created a project to enable kids in California to write poems about climate crisis as a way to express their feelings about the climate crisis. This extraordinary book contains poetry by more than 100 poems contributed by both children and adults.

Avoiding the Unthinkable

After decades of stalling on dealing with climate change head on, some believe that the global capitalist system needs to be overhauled to solve the crisis. “The Case for the Green New Deal” by economist Ann Pettifor has been working on the green new deal — a plan to tackle the climate emergency and inequality at the same time — and her book outlines its broad history by suggesting that it is possible to finance a zero-emissions program if constraints are placed on moving capital. Pettifor has advised congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on reviving the GND framework.

“The Water Will Come” by Jeff Goodell is not a brand-new book but one that takes a serious look at earth’s rising seawaters. He believes that by the end of this century, hundreds of millions of people will retreat from the world’s shores, and coastal regions will disappear. Goddell’s book is a definitive account of the rising waters, how this will happen, and what it will mean.

Bill Gates, always an innovator, has long been interested in global warming and how to avoid its disastrous outcomes. His latest book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need” is a compelling, methodical and ultimately optimistic explanation of what’s driving the warming planet and some solid ideas on how to approach each problem. Gates offers what is basically a how-to manual of solutions, including his ideas on reorganizing the global economy so that innovation itself focuses on more effective solutions to climate change.

Earth’s warming, waters rising, wildfires, and carbon-filled air cannot be solved quickly, nor with one approach. But the more we learn, the more we can do to prevent the environmental situation from continuing to worsen, leaving a better world for our children and grandchildren in the future.

Stephen and Ayesha Curry are spreading some love this festive season by donating tons of books to schools around Oakland, California.

Julie Mitchell is a Calistoga resident and longtime book lover. She holds a BA in English/Creative Writing from Stanford University and an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco.