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The Best American Science And Nature Writing 2020 Kindle Edition
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“Scientists and science writers have a monumental task: making science exciting and relevant to the average person, so that they care,” writes renowned American physicist Michio Kaku. “If we fail in this endeavor, then we must face dire consequences.” From the startlingly human abilities of AI, to the devastating accounts of California’s forest fires, to the impending traffic jam on the moon, the selections in this year’s Best American Science and Nature Writing explore the latest mysteries and marvels occurring in our labs and in nature. These gripping narratives masterfully translate the work of today’s brightest scientists, offering a clearer view of our world and making us care.
THE BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE AND NATURE WRITING 2020 INCLUDES
RIVKA GALCHEN • ADAM GOPNIK • FERRIS JABR • JOSHUA SOKOL • MELINDA WENNER MOYER • SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE • NATALIE WOLCHOVER and others
About the Author
- ASIN : B081TTNWF8
- Publisher : Mariner Books (November 3, 2020)
- Publication date : November 3, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 3695 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 386 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #540,858 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- #91 in Science Essays & Commentary (Kindle Store)
- #205 in Nature Writing
- #321 in Science Essays & Commentary (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
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What I mean by their not good editors is they chose them for reasons of who they were (their celeb clout, as the young folks say) rather than by actual merit. And their picks were...well, preachy is one word for it (if you yourself are famous for preaching, you obviously prefer preachy texts as well), but also kinda...boring? Like I'd read most of them already because they'd been hyped up so much? And that was my real disappointment with the series in recent years--that it didn't feel that the editors were in the habit of widely reading science literature at all, and thus picked the already trendy stuff...which is already played out.
This volume is not a return to the former high standards, but it is a damn bit better than the last three years. There is, and the editors address it in their intros, a bit of that disconnect that everything has--we've been up to our sinuses in pandemic for the last 10 months, so it almost feels weird to read about 'normal' things like astronomy untouched by this damn virus that has managed to infect everything--but not only is there a good range of science involved, the essays also don't all slide into despair.
See, the last few years this series beat the climate change drum very hard. My issue with that is (no, I'm no climate denier, read on) that if you're writing 'climate change is real!!' in a book called Science and Nature Writing, chances are your audience already knows that, so...what exact work are you doing here? WE KNOW. Secondly, every single entry on that topic already tells us basically it's too late. Which, I mean, I don't expect science to blow smoke up my booty, but you can't tell me we need to do something, and then tell me in the same essay that there's essentially nothing to be done because it's already too late. And let's be honest. Reading 200 pages of gloom and doom are not a great read. Which is ironic since the bad choices were clearly chosen very much to push excitement in STEM. If you're into STEM and you read a book that tells you the world will be a barren cinder in 10 years...you don't really feel like going into STEM. Or doing much of anything except quietly weeping in a corner and then worrying about the damage the salt in your tears is doing.
SO, this book of course had a few climate essays, and they were much the same, but thankfully had a nice variety of other sciences covered. My favorite by far was the one on amber markets in China, and a close second is one involving a sort of renegade paleontologist discovering what might be the KT line. There's excitement (working toward the discovery of Planet IX) and awe (machine learning and AI) which is very, very welcome to return to the series.
My biggest bone to pick with this collection is that STUPID essay about the Camp Fire. It was gripping reading, harrowing with details and just impossible to put down. SO why am I calling it stupid? Because the author is so determined to blame Climate Change they don't even entertain the idea that one of the reasons (that anyone who has lived in wildfire country knows) that the Camp Fire and other recent California fire seasons have been so devastating is...Governor Newsom and his refusal to allow for controlled burns and brush clearing.
Let me repeat for any dummy about to open their mouths. I am NOT saying the Camp Fire wasn't bad in part due to climate change. I AM saying is that we need to consider ALL the factors, and, if we actually care about the people and preventing as much human damage as possible, become better stewards of the land by using the controlled version of Nature's own technique of controlled burns. Pointing to government ineptitude doesn't mean no fingers are pointing at climate change, but if we can't find all the causes of blame, we can't fix any of them. As climate change wreaks havoc on our world, we need capable leadership more than ever to protect the people involved and shepherd us into the new reality.
Anyway it was a decent read, for a change. I'd given up on this series, and only picked it up after seeing reviews that said much what I said--that the series used to be great, hit a slump, and this was the start of a better path. It's not the level it used to be, but then...is anything?