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Wisdom – Stephen S. Hall



Stephen S. Hall

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: March 9, 2010

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

We all recognize wisdom, but defining it is more elusive. In this fascinating journey from philosophy to science, Stephen S. Hall gives us a penetrating history of wisdom, from its sudden emergence in the fifth century B.C. to its modern manifestations in education, politics, and the workplace. Hall’s bracing exploration of the science of wisdom allows us to see this ancient virtue with fresh eyes, yet also makes clear that despite modern science’s most powerful efforts, wisdom continues to elude easy understanding.

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Wisdom – Stephen S. Hall

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Coronavirus: The worst way to drive down emissions

The rapidly spreading coronavirus has infected over 90,000 people worldwide, stoked fears about a worldwide pandemic, and rattled global markets. The coronavirus is also having an unexpected environmental effect: It’s cutting carbon emissions.

China’s work stoppages and flagging industrial output have decreased the country’s normally sky-high carbon emissions by at least a quarter, according to an analysis recently published in CarbonBrief by Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst at the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air. That drop translates to a 6 percent decline in overall global emissions. New research from China’s statistics bureau shows that the country’s factory activity suffered the deepest contraction on record last month.

A decline in air travel might be playing a supporting role. By mid-February, around 13,000 flights a day had been canceled, with many airlines suspending flights to and from mainland China. Aviation remains one of the most carbon-intensive activities, accounting for 2 percent of emissions worldwide.

But how should we think about something as objectively terrible as the coronavirus — which has left more than 3,000 people dead — temporarily slowing climate change?

The truth is that there are a lot of bad things in the world that also happen to (temporarily) lower carbon emissions. Experts have attributed a 10 percent decrease in fossil fuel pollution in the United States between 2007 and 2009 to the global recession and financial crisis then gripping the country, putting millions of people out of work. The Chinese government’s one-child policy was widely decried as causing an epidemic of forced abortions and even infanticide. But the government has boasted that it prevented 1.3 billion tons of carbon emissions.

These respites from fossil fuel pollution aren’t actually “good for” the climate. For one thing, they rarely last. In 2010, post-recession, the U.S. economy resurged, and with it fossil fuel emissions that wiped away losses from the previous years. The drop in Chinese emissions from the coronavirus is also likely temporary; China has been known to increase production dramatically in the aftermath of a crisis in order to make up for lost time.

Moreover, in times of global stress, green projects often take a back burner to more pressing issues. Distracted by the problem at hand, governments funnel political attention and subsidies into the pandemic or the economic meltdown. The environment gets short shrift.

The problem of climate change isn’t about how we save the earth (the earth will be just fine without us). It’s about how humans can thrive, not just survive, in a greenhouse gas-constrained world. So, even if a Thanos-style reckoning might sound nice when you are depressed by species extinction, melting polar ice, etc., you can’t save a world by destroying it.

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Coronavirus: The worst way to drive down emissions

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The report card is in: Green orgs are improving staff diversity, but still don’t reflect America

People of color are on the frontlines of the climate crisis: They live in areas disproportionately impacted by pollution, deadly heat waves, and extreme storms. So it stands to reason that the staffers and leaders of major environmental organizations should reflect the demographics of the communities most relevant to their work.

The Green 2.0 initiative, which was launched in 2013 to promote racial and gender diversity in the environmental movement, released its third annual diversity report card for the top 40 major non-governmental organizations and foundations on Wednesday. For the first time in its short history, the report brought good news: an overall increase in people of color and women on staff and boards of directors since Green 2.0 started collecting and releasing data in 2017.

According to the report, each green organization that provided data added 11 people of color to its staff between 2017 and 2019, on average. As for senior staffers, each organization added an average of two people of color to its upper ranks, while the number of women on senior staff remained unchanged over the same two-year period. (Overall, people of color constitute close to 30 percent of organizational staff; women constitute about 64 percent.) Each organization also added, on average, one woman and one person of color to its board. These improvements were determined to be statistically significant — though the numbers do exclude one unnamed outlier that skewed the results in a different direction.

Whitney Tome, the executive director of Green 2.0, said in a press call that the organization is “cautiously optimistic” after reviewing the findings. “We want the trend to continue and we want it to accelerate, so that it can match the racial demographics of the country,” she said.

Tome also highlighted the importance of further improvements to board composition. “When it comes to membership of the board, it is critically important that people of color sit on that stage,” Tome said. “The board needs to be as diverse as the country to ensure that its next leaders are people of color.”

For three years, Green 2.0 has surveyed the top 40 environmental NGOs and top 40 foundations across the country. NGOs were generally more active and willing to share their data than foundations. In fact, the participation rate among the top 40 NGOs increased from 82.5 percent to 90 percent between 2017 and 2019. Green 2.0 specifically called out the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of largest nonprofits with a mission to improve public policy by collecting data for research, for declining to participate in the survey multiple times. “It’s hypocritical,” Tome said in the press call.

Meanwhile, the participation rate among foundations remains stagnant at 35 percent, making it difficult for Green 2.0 to provide a concrete set of trends on the demographic composition of foundations.

Foundations funnel money to push policies, grants, and other resources as part of the environmental movement, so diverse viewpoints among their staff members are leaders are of critical importance. Ironically, many foundations ask grantees for their own demographic data, Tome pointed out — but the foundations themselves are unwilling to disclose their own data to the public.

“We recognize the environmental movement hasn’t always been as attentive to frontline communities and communities of color throughout its history,” Tome said. “So we really want to continue to push and advocate for having people of color in those senior leadership places, and for them to hopefully have a tremendous impact in policies going forward.”

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The report card is in: Green orgs are improving staff diversity, but still don’t reflect America

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The Demon in the Machine – Paul Davies


The Demon in the Machine

How Hidden Webs of Information Are Solving the Mystery of Life

Paul Davies

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $17.99

Publish Date: October 16, 2019

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Seller: Chicago Distribution Center

What is life? For generations, scientists have struggled to make sense of this fundamental question, for life really does look like magic: even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it. Huge advances in molecular biology over the past few decades have served only to deepen the mystery. In this penetrating and wide-ranging book, world-renowned physicist and science communicator Paul Davies searches for answers in a field so new and fast-moving that it lacks a name; it is a domain where biology, computing, logic, chemistry, quantum physics, and nanotechnology intersect. At the heart of these diverse fields, Davies explains, is the concept of information: a quantity which has the power to unify biology with physics, transform technology and medicine, and force us to fundamentally reconsider what it means to be alive—even illuminating the age-old question of whether we are alone in the universe. From life’s murky origins to the microscopic engines that run the cells of our bodies, The Demon in the Machine journeys across an astounding landscape of cutting-edge science. Weaving together cancer and consciousness, two-headed worms and bird navigation, Davies reveals how biological organisms garner and process information to conjure order out of chaos, opening a window onto the secret of life itself. Electronic rights 50/50 Ebook notes:  The Publishers will not knowingly or systematically sell or allow downloads of the Electronic Edition outside the Territory. The Electronic Edition shall not be enhanced, amplified, adapted, abridged, bundled or combined with any other work/s nor vary from the Print Edition in any material way without the prior written approval of the Proprietor. For the avoidance of doubt, the right to sell or distribute the Electronic Edition via any digital subscription service is not permitted under this Agreement.

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The Demon in the Machine – Paul Davies

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Advanced Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology – Denise L. Smith


Advanced Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology

Denise L. Smith

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $74.99

Publish Date: December 9, 2010

Publisher: Human Kinetics, Inc.

Seller: Human Kinetics, Inc.

Written for students and professionals working within exercise science and related health professions, Advanced Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology systematically details the effect of acute and chronic exercise training on each component of the cardiovascular system: the heart, the vasculature, and the blood (including blood clotting factors). Readers will gain a comprehensive understanding of the cardiovascular system and learn how to apply this knowledge to their work with athletes, other active individuals, and patients who have cardiovascular risk factors. Advanced Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology highlights the complex interaction of the components of the cardiovascular system both at rest and during exercise. Using the latest scientific and medical research, this text presents engaging discussion of cardiovascular responses and adaptions to both acute and chronic aerobic and resistance exercise training. In addition, specific attention is paid to the beneficial effects of exercise on the components of the cardiovascular system and the mechanisms through which regular exercise provides cardioprotection. Each chapter contains a summary to highlight key content, important terms bolded within the text for quick reference, and a key terms section at the end of each chapter defining all the bolded terms. In addition, sidebars within each chapter describe real-world examples and applications. Richly illustrated, Advanced Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology uses extensive figures and graphics to elucidate physiological mechanisms and to depict exercise responses and training adaptations. This text is divided into two sections, beginning with a concise explanation of the structure and function of each component of the cardiovascular system. In the second section, readers encounter detailed discussion of the acute and chronic effects of aerobic and resistance exercise on cardiac function, vascular function, and hemostatic variables. Advanced Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology provides a framework for understanding how the components of the cardiovascular system cooperate to support exercise and how those components adapt to and benefit from a systematic program of exercise training. By presenting current research that elucidates the specific effects and benefits of exercise on the cardiovascular system, Advanced Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology also offers readers possible future directions for research. Human Kinetics’ Advanced Exercise Physiology series offers books for advanced undergraduate and graduate students as well as professionals in exercise science and kinesiology. These books highlight the complex interaction of the various systems both at rest and during exercise. Each text in this series offers a concise explanation of the system and details how each is affected by acute exercise and chronic exercise training. Advanced Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology is the second volume in the series.

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Advanced Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology – Denise L. Smith

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TIME magazine devoted an entire issue to climate change AGAIN

Every story in this week’s edition of TIME is about the climate crisis — one of only five times the magazine has devoted an entire issue to a single topic. “2050: The Fight for Earth” comes 30 years after TIME’s first climate issue, when they put “Endangered Earth” on the cover instead of their usual Person of the Year in 1989.

The threat to our planet posed by climate change, the TIME editorial staff decided, was “the most important story of the year.” Unfortunately, life on Earth is still in pretty imminent danger — even more than they realized it was back in 1989 — but the stories and articles just released detail how much our ability to address the climate has grown since then. We read it, of course, so you don’t have to — but we still hope you do. It’s well worth your time.

I know, reading an entire magazine’s worth of news about our heating planet probably seems like a good way to ensure that you spend the rest of your day steeped in extreme existential dread. But reading these stories actually made me feel … hopeful? Or at least, like doom isn’t necessarily inevitable (which might be the closest a climate reporter gets to hope these days).

To be sure, “2050: The Fight for Earth” is not filled with light reading material. A long multimedia piece viscerally documents the deforestation occurring in the Amazon right now. The piece is unequivocal about just how high the stakes are: “The Amazon tipping point could also lead to a cascade of other potential climate tipping points,” writes journalist Matt Sandy. “Scientists believe that these changes combined could result in runaway global warming that humans would find impossible to reverse.”

As you read more stories, a clear trend emerges: We aren’t doing enough, whether that means stopping deforestation and ocean warming, reforming manufacturing practices, or adapting to the changes already set in motion.

You’re probably thinking, that doesn’t sound hopeful at all. But the clear-eyed presentation of the severity of the problem makes me believe TIME’s writers and editors when they put forward solutions and reasons for hope. They don’t say it’ll be easy — in fact, they acknowledge it will be quite hard — and so I trust them when they say it is possible to avert the worst outcomes of global warming.

So what could we be doing? The issue includes an overview of much-needed technological innovations that are on the horizon. Profiles of 15 women leading the climate movement illustrate that many people, especially those who will bear more of the consequences of a hotter planet, are already doing incredible work to avert those outcomes. Al Gore chimes in (it’s the TIME climate issue — did you really think Al Gore wouldn’t be in this thing?) with a similar message: We need to support the work of young, frontline activists.

It’s easy for journalists to inspire despair when writing about something as dire as climate change or simply fall into the trap of oversimplifying the issue and making unrealistic promises about what options are still on the table. But especially given the dearth of climate coverage we’ve seen in past years, a whole issue that realistically, honestly examines how we may be able to move forward feels like a win worth celebrating.

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TIME magazine devoted an entire issue to climate change AGAIN

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The Ice at the End of the World – Jon Gertner


The Ice at the End of the World

An Epic Journey into Greenland’s Buried Past and Our Perilous Future

Jon Gertner

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $13.99

Publish Date: June 11, 2019

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

A riveting, urgent account of the explorers and scientists racing to understand the rapidly melting ice sheet in Greenland, a dramatic harbinger of climate change “Jon Gertner takes readers to spots few journalists or even explorers have visited. The result is a gripping and important book.”—Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of  The Sixth Extinction Greenland: a remote, mysterious island five times the size of California but with a population of just 56,000. The ice sheet that covers it is 700 miles wide and 1,500 miles long, and is composed of nearly three quadrillion tons of ice. For the last 150 years, explorers and scientists have sought to understand Greenland—at first hoping that it would serve as a gateway to the North Pole, and later coming to realize that it contained essential information about our climate. Locked within this vast and frozen white desert are some of the most profound secrets about our planet and its future. Greenland’s ice doesn’t just tell us where we’ve been. More urgently, it tells us where we’re headed. In The Ice at the End of the World, Jon Gertner explains how Greenland has evolved from one of earth’s last frontiers to its largest scientific laboratory. The history of Greenland’s ice begins with the explorers who arrived here at the turn of the twentieth century—first on foot, then on skis, then on crude, motorized sleds—and embarked on grueling expeditions that took as long as a year and often ended in frostbitten tragedy. Their original goal was simple: to conquer Greenland’s seemingly infinite interior. Yet their efforts eventually gave way to scientists who built lonely encampments out on the ice and began drilling—one mile, two miles down. Their aim was to pull up ice cores that could reveal the deepest mysteries of earth’s past, going back hundreds of thousands of years. Today, scientists from all over the world are deploying every technological tool available to uncover the secrets of this frozen island before it’s too late. As Greenland’s ice melts and runs off into the sea, it not only threatens to affect hundreds of millions of people who live in coastal areas. It will also have drastic effects on ocean currents, weather systems, economies, and migration patterns. Gertner chronicles the unfathomable hardships, amazing discoveries, and scientific achievements of the Arctic’s explorers and researchers with a transporting, deeply intelligent style—and a keen sense of what this work means for the rest of us. The melting ice sheet in Greenland is, in a way, an analog for time. It contains the past. It reflects the present. It can also tell us how much time we might have left.

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The Ice at the End of the World – Jon Gertner

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Should I Replace My Roof Before Going Solar?

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If you have decided to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on your roof, it is a good idea to do some advanced planning. Solar panels are designed to last 25 to 30 years. Some roofs only last 20 years or less depending on the climate. If you are going to install a solar system and the roof needs to be replaced soon, it is best to do this first.

Removing the solar panels to do roof work is a labor-intensive project in itself. A simple way to avoid this additional expense is by replacing an old roof before going solar.

Asphalt Shingle or Composite Roofs

Asphalt is the most common roofing material in the United States. These roofs are typically less durable than the solar panels and are designed to last 20 years. In fact, it is relatively common for solar panels to protect asphalt shingle roofs from hail damage. Attaching solar panels merely involves drilling into the roof and attaching the mounting hardware to roof studs. The roof penetrations are then sealed off to prevent water infiltration.

Tile or Ceramic Roofs

While it is possible to install solar panels on a ceramic roof, it requires care to avoid damage to the roof. First, the ceramic tiles are removed, then the brackets are installed with flashing to prevent roof leaks. Although there are other approaches, drilling through tiles can result in them breaking.

Standing-Seam Metal Roof

These are the best roofs for solar panels but do come at a higher upfront cost than asphalt shingle roofs.

Metal roofs are designed to last between 40 and 70 years, which is longer than solar panels. Because of their longevity, the roofs are inexpensive to maintain, resulting in long-term cost savings.

The seams in the roof can be used for mounting hardware for the panels, eliminating the need for roof penetrations. Because it is simpler and quicker than installing solar panels on other roof types, you might also have lower installation costs. If you do decide to replace your roof,  make sure the roof is designed for energy efficiency and indoor comfort.

Another advantage of metal roofs is that they are more eco-friendly than asphalt shingles. Metal roofs can also significantly reduce heating and cooling costs when a batten/counter batten system is used. This configuration promotes home efficiency because it helps stop heat from entering the home in the summer and prevents heat from escaping in the winter. Metal roofs last two to three times as long as shingles, thus they require fewer materials over the life of the roof. Another advantage is that they are recyclable at the end of life and commonly contain recycled materials. Metal roofs with gutters are also great for harvesting rainwater.

Like with any other major purchase, it is a good idea to do some advanced planning. Installing a solar energy system can result in significant cost savings, but needing to remove the panels a year or two after the installation to replace the roof would decrease your solar investment return.

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Should I Replace My Roof Before Going Solar?

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What the environmental justice movement owes Martin Luther King Jr

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The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is mostly remembered for his role in the civil rights movement and nonviolent protests, but environmental justice groups also see their cause reflected in his work.

The day before he died, for example, King helped rally striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to suffering from low and inequitable pay, black workers did the most dangerous and dirty work compared to their white peers, and suffered from dismal working conditions while bearing the burden of the associated health and safety risks.

“You don’t get more environmental justice than that,” Eddie Bautista, executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, told Grist. “All the environment really is is where you live, work, play, or pray.”

Dr. King’s actions not only led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965; his work paved the way for environmental legislation such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. He recognized that many of the struggles of his time — including racial inequity, poverty, politics, health, and human rights — were inexorably linked. According to Bautista, in the early days of the environmental justice movement, some advocates described their work as a synthesis of the environmental movement and the civil rights movement.

King’s work continues to influence young environmental activists today. Just before she took office, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called fighting climate change “the civil rights movement of our generation.” And modern-day environmental groups such as the Sunrise Movement are using the kind of nonviolent direct action techniques espoused by Dr. King as tools to push lawmakers on policies such as the Green New Deal.

And then there’s the fact that the environment is simply one more lens through which racial inequity manifests. Bautista emphasizes it’s crucial for communities of color to be part of climate solutions. After all, “if you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu,” he said.

And if King and other civil rights movement leaders who have passed on were alive today, what might their reactions to climate change be?

“Climate change is an existential threat that a lot of these folks [in the civil rights movement back then] weren’t as aware of.” Bautista said. “But, if they were around today, these would be some of the same fights they would be fighting.”

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What the environmental justice movement owes Martin Luther King Jr

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The Body Builders – Adam Piore


The Body Builders

Inside the Science of the Engineered Human

Adam Piore

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: March 14, 2017

Publisher: Ecco


Fareed Zakaria GPS Book of the Week Weaving together vivid storytelling and groundbreaking science, The Body Builders explores the current revolution in human augmentation, which is helping us to triumph over the limitations and constraints we have long accepted as an inevitable part of being human For millennia, humans have tried—and often failed—to master nature and transcend our limits. But this has started to change. The new scientific frontier is the human body: the greatest engineers of our generation have turned their sights inward, and their work is beginning to revolutionize mankind. In The Body Builders, Adam Piore takes us on a fascinating journey into the field of bioengineering—which can be used to reverse engineer, rebuild, and augment human beings—and paints a vivid portrait of the people at its center. Chronicling the ways new technology has retooled our physical expectations and mental processes, Piore visits people who have regrown parts of their fingers and legs in the wake of terrible traumas, tries on a muscle suit that allows him to lift ninety pounds with his fingertips, dips into the race to create “Viagra for the brain,” and shadows the doctors trying to give mute patients the ability to communicate telepathically. As science continues to lay bare the mysteries of human performance, it is helping us to see—and exist—above our expectations. The Body Builders will take readers beyond the headlines and the hype to introduce them to the inner workings and the outer reaches of our bodies and minds, and explore how new developments are changing, and will forever change, what is possible for humankind.

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The Body Builders – Adam Piore

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