Hawk Haiku

Hawk soars in the sky

As we watch branches whiten

She alights for now.

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California is shattering renewable records. So why are greenhouse emissions creeping up?

The green beacon that is the state of California is making clean-energy strides, according to new stats out this week. It’s harnessing a record amount of solar power, building more turbines to capture wind power records, and closing in on the moment when the grid goes 100 percent carbon free.

And yet it’s also starting to generate more greenhouse gases. WTF?

Every month California’s electricity managers put out a report showing what that climate-conscious state is up to. And this one brings sunny signs of progress, unheralded achievements, and fun factoids. Earlier this month, for instance, California set a new record for solar power generated.

And on April 28, at precisely 1:25 p.m., renewables provided 72.7 percent of California’s electricity needs. That’s also a record, but not an aberration. It’s consistent with a longstanding trend as California’s policies connect more solar panels and wind turbines to the grid. As you can see in the next graph, California keeps hitting new records — usually around noon — when renewables provide the majority of the electricity for a few hours.

California Independent System Operator

Since 2015, renewables have helped California decrease the amount of greenhouse gases its power plants released into the atmosphere. But this past February, the state’s electricity was more carbon intensive than it was in 2017, and in March it was even worse:

California Independent System Operator

What’s that all about? There’s a hint in the report. California had to dump about 95,000 megawatt hours of renewable power in April, because all that power would otherwise have flooded onto the grid when people didn’t need it — blowing fuses, igniting fires, and melting every computer without a surge protector. That’s a lot of energy, enough to provide all of Guatemala’s electricity for the month.

Transporting electricity and storing it is expensive, so the people managing the electrical system ask power companies to stop putting power on the grid, to curtail their production. It’s called “curtailment” in electric-system jargon. As the number of solar panels feeding the grid increases, so do curtailments.

The thing is, every new panel sending electricity to the grid is still displacing fossil fuel electricity. So that can’t explain why California is burning more fossil fuels than in the last couple of years.

What’s the real problem, then? It’s almost certainly the lack of water. When wind and sun stop generating electrons, we’d like to have other low-carbon source of electricity that we could turn to — what some energy wonks call a “flexible base” of power generation.

California’s big source of reliable low-carbon electricity has been hydropower. But the state is bracing for a drought after a warm, dry winter. So California is hoarding water behind dams, rather than letting the water run through turbines to generate electricity. As a result, hydropower generation is down. And the state’s nuclear, geothermal and biomass plants are already running at capacity. As a result California is replacing the missing waterpower with fossil-fuel generation, namely natural gas.

All this serves as a good reminder that renewables can’t provide us with all of our electricity needs alone. We’ve also got to create bigger and better batteries, string up international transmission lines and build more low-carbon power plants that we can ramp up and down to complement those renewables. If California gets that done, its power grid will be cleaner and more energizing than a $5 shot of wheatgrass juice sold from a food truck by a man with a well-conditioned beard.

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California is shattering renewable records. So why are greenhouse emissions creeping up?

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EPA guard physically shoved a reporter out of the building

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Scott Pruitt convened an EPA national drinking water summit in response to criticism that the EPA and White House had intervened to block a report that disclosed the harmful effects of certain contaminants in drinking water. Now, the summit has become a center of a new controversy. The Associated Press, CNN, and E&E News were barred from covering Pruitt’s speech on Tuesday.

The summit was intended to solicit feedback on a class of chemicals, perfluorinated compounds, PFAS, that can be found in nonstick coatings and firefighting foam. The study, which has still not yet been released by the Trump administration, finds the chemicals can cause health problems and developmental defects at levels far below what the EPA officially considers to be safe.

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When AP reporter Ellen Knickmeyer showed up at the EPA building to report on the day’s events, guards barred her “from passing through a security checkpoint inside the building.” When she asked “to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building.”

Several outlets still made it in, though they were only allowed to remain for Pruitt’s speech and not for the meetings. The outlets with reserved seats included Wall Street Journal, Politico, The Hill, The Washington Post, Bloomberg BNA, and one of Pruitt’s favorites, The Daily Caller.

“This was simply an issue of the room reaching capacity, which reporters were aware of prior to the event,” EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox said in a statement to Mother Jones. “We were able to accommodate 10 reporters, provided a livestream for those we could not accommodate and were unaware of the individual situation that has been reported.”

An hour after emailing this statement, the EPA announced it was opening the second portion of its summit to all reporters and invited Mother Jones to attend.

This is only the most recent event in Pruitt’s contentious history with press, blocking reporters from press lists and from attending the administrator’s events. Emails recently released under the Freedom of Information Act show Pruitt’s staff going to great lengths to limit public access to the administrator over the last 16 months. EPA staff determined whether reporters belonged to “friendly” and “unfriendly” outlets, and discussed strategies for blocking the so-called unfriendly press from events.

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EPA guard physically shoved a reporter out of the building

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Foods You Can Eat to Repel Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes find you primarily by your scent. Although, the chemical compounds that create your personal scent are very complex, and researchers have barely scratched the surface of what makes one person smell better to mosquitoes than another.

What we do know is that mosquitoes are extremely sensitive and can smell a potential meal from over 50 meters (160 feet) away. We also know that the foods we eat can change how our bodies smell. Have you ever had a meal seasoned with pungent spices, then smelled them on your breath or skin afterwards?

Mosquitoes can also smell what you?ve been eating, and some foods are more likely than others to throw them off your scent. Try loading up on the following foods this summer and see if mosquitoes give you a miss.

1. Garlic

Research suggests that the scent of garlic is able to ward off mosquitoes. In fact, garlic is recognized as so effective that it?s included in various commercial bug and mosquito repellents. Garlic?s distinctive smell is partially due to its unique chemical compound called allicin. When you eat garlic, you?ve likely noticed the smell of allicin as it comes through the pores of your skin. Rest assured that you don?t smell bad, you?re simply protecting yourself against mosquitoes.

Incidentally, onions have been shown to repel some insects, but not mosquitoes. This may be due to the fact onions do not contain allicin.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

The strong smell of apple cider vinegar is known to repel mosquitoes and some other bugs. You can take advantage of its repelling action by simply wiping some on your skin. But, if you consume apple cider vinegar regularly, the scent may naturally come through your pores.

It?s recommended to consume at least one tablespoon (18 milliliters) of apple cider vinegar per day to have enough in your system to ward off mosquitoes. Apple cider vinegar has many other health benefits and you can add it to salad dressings, soups or other dishes. You can also drink a tablespoon of plain vinegar each day, but first check these guidelines on how to safely drink cider vinegar.

3. Foods with Vitamin B1

Anecdotal evidence suggests that vitamin B1, also called thiamine, can help deter mosquitoes. Many people have experienced a benefit of either using vitamin B1 supplements or eating foods high in vitamin B1. Unfortunately, research has not been able to support these claims.

Based on the many personal success stories, you may want to try including foods high in thiamine in your diet and see what happens. Some of the best sources of thiamine include sunflower seeds, black beans, navy beans, soy beans, lentils, brewer?s and nutritional yeasts, macadamia nuts and wheat germ.

Related: 7 Ways to Repel Mosquitoes Without Putting Anything on Your Skin

4. Grapefruit

Nootkatone is the chemical compound that gives grapefruit its familiar fragrance. Nootkatone is also proven to be an effective repellent for mosquitoes, as well as ticks, bed bugs, head lice and various other insects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working with biotechnology companies to develop a commercial bug repellent based on nootkatone. This would provide a safe and natural product to help combat disease-spreading insects like mosquitoes and ticks.

It?s not known if eating grapefruit regularly will provide enough nootkatone to repel insects from your skin. But, nootkatone and grapefruit are recognized as completely safe to eat, so it?s definitely worth a try.

5. Herbs and Spices

The essential oils from many different herbs and spices are recognized as effective mosquito repellents. These oils are typically applied to the skin. The effect of eating the source herbs and spices remains unknown as it has never been studied. Although, it?s very plausible that the pungent oils contained in the fresh herbs and spices could affect the smell of your skin. And considering that most herbs and spices also have many health benefits, you can?t go wrong adding more flavors to your food.

Some of the best herbs and spices proven to repel mosquitoes include clove, thyme, cinnamon, rosemary, lavender, catnip, peppermint, and lemongrass, which contains citronella.

Related on Care2

8 Natural Mosquito Repellants
Why You?re a Mosquito Magnet, According to Science
Women Prefer the Scent of a Man Who Eats This Diet

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Foods You Can Eat to Repel Mosquitoes

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These Republicans say they’re ready for climate action. Can we believe them?

Three Republican representatives — Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, Peter Roskam of Illinois, and Erik Paulsen of Minnesota —  just joined a bipartisan climate change caucus. Given their voting records on environmental matters, these guys are unlikely messengers for climate action. But hey, this is 2018, and the climate will take what it can get!

The Climate Solutions Caucus was founded in 2016 by two Florida lawmakers, Democrat Ted Deutch and Republican Carlos Curbelo. The group has expanded to 78 members since then — a solid 18 percent of all House representatives. (By rule, a Democrat can only join if a Republican does too.)

But the requirements for joining the Climate Solutions Caucus are a bit wishy-washy. It’s become a safe space for House Republicans who want to “‘greenwash’ their climate credentials without backing meaningful action,” as Mother Jones’ Rebecca Leber and Megan Jula write.  The average Republican in the caucus voted in favor of the environment just 16 percent of the time last year, according to the League of Conservation Voters. (House Democrats averaged 94 percent.)

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Many of the new Republican members are fighting for their seats in competitive districts, according to the Cook Political Report — including MacArthur, Roskam, and Paulsen. The theory is that these incumbents may want to distance themselves from Trump’s brand of climate denial right before election season.

As for whether joining the Climate Solutions Caucus marks a turning point in their careers or an empty badge of honor, only time will tell. Here’s how the newest Republican members have approached climate issues in the past.

Tom MacArthur, New Jersey

Like many other Republicans, MacArthur doesn’t want his state’s shores ruined by Trump’s offshore drilling plan.

“My district is home to the heart of the Jersey Shore, Barnegat Bay, the Pine Barrens, and the Delaware River,” MacArthur said in a press release about joining the caucus. “Climate change and other environmental issues directly impact our area and our South Jersey economy.”

On other environmental issues, MacArthur’s record isn’t as clean. He recently voted to exempt coal plants from meeting certain clean air standards and delay public health protections against toxic pollution from brick manufacturers. He voted for environmental legislation just 23 percent of the time last year, according to LCV.

But at least he’s spoken up for climate change before. After President Trump announced his intent to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement last summer, MacArthur responded on Facebook: “Climate change is a critical issue and it is vital that we act as good stewards of the environment.”

Peter Roskam, Illinois

Then there’s Roskam — the Illinois representative who earned a jaw-droppingly low score of 3 percent from LCV last year. What’s he doing in climate-friendly territory?

Roskam reportedly called global warming “junk science” in 2006, and his opponent in Illinois’ 6th District race, scientist Sean Casten, is giving him hell for it. Casten, who’s making climate change his main issue, is quick to point out that Roskam voted to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases and voted against renewing tax credits for people who install solar panels on their homes or buy electric cars.

Casten calls Roskam’s decision to join the climate caucus a “death-bed conversion designed to obscure his horrible record on environmental issues.”

Here’s Roskam’s version of why he’s signing up: “It is incumbent upon each and every one of us to understand the impacts and challenges that come from a changing climate. The Climate Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan venue to enact common sense solutions.”

Erik Paulsen, Minnesota

When a reporter asked Paulsen in 2008 if he believed humans were contributing to global warming, he said, “I’m not smart enough to know if that’s true or not.”

Maybe he’s gotten smarter since then. A bunch of Winter Olympians, including Minnesota’s cross-country gold medalist Jessie Diggins, met with Paulsen last month to express concerns about climate change’s threat to winter sports and urge him to join the Climate Solutions Caucus. Paulsen is an avid skier who only voted in the environment’s favor 14 percent of the time last year.

“I’m proud to team up with both Republicans and Democrats on ways to protect our country’s economy, security, water supply, and environment,” he said in a statement about joining the caucus.

That statement suspiciously lacks any mention of climate change, but you know. Baby steps.

Continued – 

These Republicans say they’re ready for climate action. Can we believe them?

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Is This Backwards-Orbiting Asteroid an Interstellar Visitor?

The space rock could have been captured from another star system during the early days of our solar system

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Is This Backwards-Orbiting Asteroid an Interstellar Visitor?

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A building El Niño in 2018 signals more extreme weather for 2019

In case you couldn’t get enough extreme weather, the next 12 months or so could bring even more scorching temps, punishing droughts, and unstoppable wildfires.

It’s still early, but odds are quickly rising that another El Niño — the periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean — could be forming. The latest official outlook from NOAA and Columbia University gives better-than-even odds of El Niño materializing by the end of this year, which could lead to a cascade of dangerous weather around the globe in 2019.

That’s a troubling development, especially when people worldwide are still suffering from the last El Niño, which ended two years ago.

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These early warnings come with a caveat: Predictions of El Niño at this time of year are notoriously fickle. If one comes, it’s impossible to know how strong it would be.

When it’s active, El Niño is often a catch-all that’s blamed for all sorts of wild weather, so it’s worth a quick science-based refresher of what we’re talking about here:

El Niño has amazingly far-reaching effects, spurring droughts in Africa and typhoons swirling toward China and Japan. It’s a normal, natural ocean phenomenon, but there’s emerging evidence that climate change is spurring more extreme El Niño-related events.

On average though, El Niño boosts global temperatures and redistributes weather patterns worldwide in a pretty predictable way. In fact, the Red Cross is starting to use its predictability to prevent humanitarian weather catastrophes before they happen.

All told, the the U.N. estimates the 2016 El Niño directly affected nearly 100 million people worldwide, not to mention causing permanent damage to the world’s coral reefs, a surge in carbon dioxide emissions from a global outbreak of forest fires, and the warmest year in recorded history.

In Ethiopia, it spawned one of the worst droughts in decades. More than 8.5 million Ethiopians continue to rely on emergency assistance, according to the UN. That includes some 1.3 million people — a majority of whom are children — who have been forced to migrate from their homes.

Initial estimates show that, if the building El Niño actually arrives, 2019 would stand a good chance at knocking off 2016 as the warmest year on record. With a strong El Niño, next year might even tiptoe across the 1.5 degree-Celsius mark — the first major milestone that locks in at least some of global warming’s worst impacts.

Recently, the United Kingdom’s Met Office — the U.K’s version of the National Weather Service — placed a 10-percent chance of the world passing the 1.5 degree Celsius target before 2022. That target was a key goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement because a sharp upward spike in temperature that severe, if sustained, would be potentially catastrophic — causing, among other impacts, “fundamental changes in ocean chemistry” that could linger for millennia, according to a draft UN report due out later this year.

Another El Niño is bad news, but it has been inevitable that another one will happen eventually. Knowing exactly when the next one is coming will give those in harm’s way more time to prepare.

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A building El Niño in 2018 signals more extreme weather for 2019

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Ruthless Tide – Al Roker

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Ruthless Tide

The Heroes and Villains of the Johnstown Flood, America’s Astonishing Gilded Age Disaster

Al Roker

Genre: Nature

Price: $14.99

Expected Publish Date: May 22, 2018

Publisher: William Morrow

Seller: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS


“Reads like a nail-biting thriller.” — Library Journal, starred review A gripping new history celebrating the remarkable heroes of the Johnstown Flood—the deadliest flood in U.S. history—from NBC host and legendary weather authority Al Roker Central Pennsylvania, May 31, 1889: After a deluge of rain—nearly a foot in less than twenty-four hours—swelled the Little Conemaugh River, panicked engineers watched helplessly as swiftly rising waters threatened to breach the South Fork dam, built to create a private lake for a fishing and hunting club that counted among its members Andrew Mellon, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Carnegie. Though the engineers telegraphed neighboring towns on this last morning in May warning of the impending danger, residents—factory workers and their families—remained in their homes, having grown used to false alarms. At 3:10 P.M., the dam gave way, releasing 20 million tons of water. Gathering speed as it flowed southwest, the deluge wiped out nearly everything in its path and picked up debris—trees, houses, animals—before reaching Johnstown, a vibrant steel town fourteen miles downstream. Traveling 40 miles an hour, with swells as high as 60 feet, the deadly floodwaters razed the mill town—home to 20,000 people—in minutes. The Great Flood, as it would come to be called, remains the deadliest in US history, killing more than 2,200 people and causing $17 million in damage. In Ruthless Tide, Al Roker follows an unforgettable cast of characters whose fates converged because of that tragic day, including John Parke, the engineer whose heroic efforts failed to save the dam; the robber barons whose fancy sport fishing resort was responsible for modifications that weakened the dam; and Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, who spent five months in Johnstown leading one of the first organized disaster relief efforts in the United States. Weaving together their stories and those of many ordinary citizens whose lives were forever altered by the event, Ruthless Tide is testament to the power of the human spirit in times of tragedy and also a timely warning about the dangers of greed, inequality, neglected infrastructure, and the ferocious, uncontrollable power of nature.

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Ruthless Tide – Al Roker

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Officials tried to censor a report on national parks. Here’s what was in it.

Roughly 25 percent of U.S. national parks are vulnerable to rising sea levels because they’re situated in coastal areas. For years, the National Parks Service has had a report in the works to quantify how higher ocean tides and storm surges could impact its sites. But in April, Reveal found that in drafts of the publication, park officials had censored all mentions of human-caused climate change as an explanation for the encroaching waters.

The story prompted Democrats on the House Committee on Natural Resources to write a letter to the Department of the Interior requesting an investigation into the scientific integrity of the Parks Service. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has said that he never changes reports before they go out.

In a follow-up, Reveal reported that when Maria Caffrey, a University of Colorado research assistant and the study’s lead author, fought the changes, officials said they could take her name off the paper or potentially not release it at all. “The fight probably destroyed my career with the (National Park Service) but it will be worth it if we can uphold the truth and ensure that scientific integrity of other scientists won’t be challenged so easily in the future,” she said.

Finally released Friday, the analysis illustrates how different levels of emissions would increase sea levels and storm surges near 118 national parks over roughly the next century. In the end, science prevailed: The report identifies human-caused climate change as the main culprit behind the rising sea levels that endanger the sites.

Here’s what the collaboration between the National Parks Service and the University of Colorado found:

Rising seas will flood parks. By the end of the century, some sites in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, for example, could experience an ocean rise of nearly two-and-a-half feet. The researchers caution that this would submerge large parts of those parks.
Wright Brothers National Memorial is predicted to face the largest sea-level rise. By 2100, the shoreline near the park is predicted to see up to a 2.7 foot increase under the most severe global warming situation they studied.
Unsurprisingly, islands are at an increased risk. The authors note that for more remote national parks, like those in the Caribbean or the National Park of American Samoa, a storm surge could be particularly ruinous, as it’s difficult to deliver aid to those sites quickly.
Overall, parks in the U.S. southeast are at highest risk for storm surges. For example, a category two hurricane would inundate Everglades National Park.

Now is the time to plan. The authors say that their findings can help inform parks as they adapt to a warming world that endangers their infrastructure and historical structures.

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Officials tried to censor a report on national parks. Here’s what was in it.

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Origin Story – David Christian

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Origin Story

A Big History of Everything

David Christian

Genre: History

Price: $15.99

Expected Publish Date: May 22, 2018

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Seller: Hachette Digital, Inc.


"I have long been a fan of David Christian. In Origin Story , he elegantly weaves evidence and insights from many scientific and historical disciplines into a single, accessible historical narrative." –Bill Gates A captivating history of the universe — from before the dawn of time through the far reaches of the distant future. Most historians study the smallest slivers of time, emphasizing specific dates, individuals, and documents. But what would it look like to study the whole of history, from the big bang through the present day — and even into the remote future? How would looking at the full span of time change the way we perceive the universe, the earth, and our very existence? These were the questions David Christian set out to answer when he created the field of "Big History," the most exciting new approach to understanding where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. In Origin Story , Christian takes readers on a wild ride through the entire 13.8 billion years we've come to know as "history." By focusing on defining events (thresholds), major trends, and profound questions about our origins, Christian exposes the hidden threads that tie everything together — from the creation of the planet to the advent of agriculture, nuclear war, and beyond. With stunning insights into the origin of the universe, the beginning of life, the emergence of humans, and what the future might bring, Origin Story boldly reframes our place in the cosmos.

From – 

Origin Story – David Christian

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The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs – Steve Brusatte

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The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

A New History of a Lost World

Steve Brusatte

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $15.99

Publish Date: April 24, 2018

Publisher: William Morrow

Seller: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS


"THE ULTIMATE DINOSAUR BIOGRAPHY," hails Scientific American: A sweeping and revelatory new history of the age of dinosaurs, from one of our finest young scientists. "This is scientific storytelling at its most visceral, striding with the beasts through their Triassic dawn, Jurassic dominance, and abrupt demise in the Cretaceous." — Nature The dinosaurs. Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth’s most fearsome creatures vanished. Today they remain one of our planet’s great mysteries. Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before. In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatte, a young American paleontologist who has emerged as one of the foremost stars of the field—naming fifteen new species and leading groundbreaking scientific studies and fieldwork—masterfully tells the complete, surprising, and new history of the dinosaurs, drawing on cutting-edge science to dramatically bring to life their lost world and illuminate their enigmatic origins, spectacular flourishing, astonishing diversity, cataclysmic extinction, and startling living legacy. Captivating and revelatory, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a book for the ages. Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers—themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period—into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, and more. This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs’ peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged. The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth’s history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a “sixth extinction.” Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur research—which he calls “a new golden age of discovery”—and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China. An electrifying scientific history that unearths the dinosaurs’ epic saga, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will be a definitive and treasured account for decades to come.

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The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs – Steve Brusatte

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