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Under the Sky We Make
Cover of Under the Sky We Make
Under the Sky We Make
How to Be Human in a Warming World
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** Los Angeles Times bestseller **It's warming. It's us. We're sure. It's bad. But we can fix it.After speaking to the international public for close to fifteen years about sustainability, climate...
** Los Angeles Times bestseller **It's warming. It's us. We're sure. It's bad. But we can fix it.After speaking to the international public for close to fifteen years about sustainability, climate...
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  • ** Los Angeles Times bestseller **
    It's warming. It's us. We're sure. It's bad. But we can fix it.
    After speaking to the international public for close to fifteen years about sustainability, climate scientist Dr. Nicholas realized that concerned people were getting the wrong message about the climate crisis. Yes, companies and governments are hugely responsible for the mess we're in. But individuals CAN effect real, significant, and lasting change to solve this problem. Nicholas explores finding purpose in a warming world, combining her scientific expertise and her lived, personal experience in a way that seems fresh and deeply urgent: Agonizing over the climate costs of visiting loved ones overseas, how to find low-carbon love on Tinder, and even exploring her complicated family legacy involving supermarket turkeys.
    In her astonishing, bestselling book Under the Sky We Make, Nicholas does for climate science what Michael Pollan did more than a decade ago for the food on our plate: offering a hopeful, clear-eyed, and somehow also hilarious guide to effecting real change, starting in our own lives. Saving ourselves from climate apocalypse will require radical shifts within each of us, to effect real change in our society and culture. But it can be done. It requires, Dr. Nicholas argues, belief in our own agency and value, alongside a deep understanding that no one will ever hand us power—we're going to have to seize it for ourselves.

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    Chapter 1

    Carbon Is Forever

    Understanding the Urgency of the Task Ahead

    My mother's mother's mother, Clara, fled what is now Ukraine in 1904, when she was twenty-two. She had sewn her filigreed platinum engagement ring into her jacket to avoid detection as a deserter. If the authorities caught you leaving with your husband, they knew you were escaping for good. Her immigration record from Ellis Island lists her port of departure as Bremen. She and her husband, my great-grandfather Mark, lived in a damp tenement near Coney Island before they eventually settled in Denver, where they ran a women's clothing shop and raised my grandmother Lillian and her brother.

    I've seen only one photograph of Mark, wearing a fedora, and Clara, with dark wavy hair. It was taken on a suburban Denver street with my mother, a serious five-year-old, and her sister Judy, already a great beauty at nine: old-world grandparents who loved borscht, posing with their wholly American grandchildren who thought the smell of beets and cabbage cooking was just awful. Clara made her life in a new country in her twenties, as I did in my thirties when I crossed the ocean to live in Sweden.

    I never met Clara, but she touches my daily life in two ways. First, her diamond sparkles on my left ring finger. Second, carbon from the coal that powered her escape, across first a continent and then an ocean, is still warming the atmosphere I share today with nearly 8 billion people. Because when your individual actions are powered by fossil fuels, some of the carbon from those actions stays in the air for thousands of years. Your story doesn't end with your death; its contrails unfurl in the physical world for millennia.

    Clara lived to be eighty-two-a good, long life. Her grandchildren-my mother and her two siblings-are the last generation of my family to have known her. They're now grandparents themselves. Once they're gone, living memory of Clara will wane and eventually the stories they shared of her will disappear too. Clara's life, as real and as vivid and important as mine or anyone else's, will fade into the background of the human tapestry. But her carbon will outlast us all.

    I don't know the name of Clara's mother's mother's mother. She would have been born in black-soil country sometime around 1800, so I can guess that she was part of a big family, all of whom worked hard on the farm. I like to imagine them playing music around the fire at night. But here's one thing I know for sure: A portion of the carbon sent skyward from the wood they burned to stay warm-and the carbon they released plowing the rich black soil-is still in our air today, and it will be for at least the next three hundred generations.

    I don't know what Clara was thinking when she decided to risk the perilous journey to a new land and leave behind everything she knew. I don't know how much thought she gave to her potential descendants and the life they would have as a result of her choice, or how much she was motivated by her own more immediate desires. Nevertheless, she set in motion a chain of events that shaped my life, giving me more choices, more freedoms, more privilege. I'm deeply grateful to her as a good ancestor.

    Everyone alive today is skywriting the most important legacy of their lives in atmospheric carbon. Long after our names and faces and deeds have faded from living memory, long after any genetic or creative or physical or digital traces of us are gone, this carbon legacy will define us in the minds and stories of our distant descendants. It will literally define the terms of their lives: where they can live, how...

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    January 15, 2021
    Lund University climate scientist Nicholas delivers a user-friendly survey of the current state of the knowledge on climate change. The bad news, she writes, is that the climate "is already changing faster than ecosystems can naturally adapt." As a result, food production is endangered, and climate-based economic inequalities are sharpening. The good news is that "we can fix it: humans have the capacity to stop dangerously destabilizing the climate." The fix involves good science, and although there are countless bloviators out there who deny the reality of climate change, especially human-caused, the fact is that just a small fraction of people "don't believe the unequivocal fact that humans are warming the climate." It also involves plenty of politicking, though Nicholas assures readers that the basic framework is in place with existing international accords such as the 2015 Paris Agreement. What remains to be done, on a long to-do list, is to move from what she calls an "Exploitation Mindset" to one devoted to regeneration, and this takes the large-scale down to the individual level, with each of us responsible for adopting habits that contribute to environmental healing. Interestingly, one good choice is to elect more women to public office, which has "caused stronger climate policies to be adopted, resulting in lower national carbon emissions." Another is to carve meat out of one's diet: Converting plant food to animal food is energy inefficient, and one study Nicholas cites shows that if all of us adopted a largely vegetarian diet on the Indian model, "we could feed the world on less than half of today's cropland." More immediately, citizens must reject fast-fix, "pollute-now, pay later" promises on the parts of corporations and demand better solutions. Some of the author's recommendations have been voiced by other climate activists, but she writes with welcome clarity and little partisan cheerleading. Readers looking to save the world--and humanity--should take an interest in this harm-reducing program.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    March 1, 2021
    This compelling book about climate change really packs a punch, because climate scientist Nicholas relentlessly brings things down to the personal level. Remember your favorite vacation spots as a child? They're probably disappearing, if not already gone. Have a favorite wine? Warmer weather affects growing seasons, so there go your grapes. She spends the first part of her engaging discourse on the facts: change is coming. Part two extols readers to get angry, and to let that anger fuel action. The third part is all about solutions. Nicholas explores carbon creation and consumption, and argues that every human on the planet has the right to their fair share. She tackles governments, the fossil fuel industry, and everyday carbon-elite lifestyles. Basically, she urges readers to stop using so much stuff. No more flying, driving, or eating meat would help, too, and she provides sobering data and personal examples that make these options seem reasonable. The chapter on processed food condemns human disregard for other life forms and natural resources, as Nicholas urges respect for nature and our planet. Libraries wondering if they really need another title on climate change should rest reassured; this is a realistic, accessible, and clarion call for change.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Under the Sky We Make
Under the Sky We Make
How to Be Human in a Warming World
Kimberly Nicholas PhD
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