A surprisingly optimistic case for hydrogen as a source of clean energy.

THE HYDROGEN REVOLUTION

A BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE OF CLEAN ENERGY

Not another climate change polemic but an enthusiastic argument for hydrogen’s role in reversing it.

In his first book, Alverà, CEO of an energy infrastructure company with natural gas pipelines across Europe and the Middle East, writes a lively account of hydrogen’s chemistry and technical possibilities. The lightest gas, hydrogen occupies the first place on the periodic table. Burned with oxygen, it produces clean heat; its only waste product is water. What could be better? There are a few problems, but many are solved, and Alverà delivers clear explanations of those that aren’t along with an astute analysis of the possibilities. A businessman, he states a blunt fact: Clean energy will not take over until it’s as cheap as dirty energy. That’s less ominous than it sounds. Wind and solar are already cheaper in many areas and expanding rapidly. However, “green electricity, so useful in our homes and in our cars, doesn’t cut it in the manufacturing industry.” It can’t replace chemicals in dirty manufacturing processes, and using electrical heating to reach high temperatures remains too expensive. While wind and solar electricity are always intermittent, hydrogen works all the time. Transmitting power by wire is expensive and wasteful. Pipelines are much cheaper, and existing pipes are already carrying hydrogen, which generates its electricity in fuel cells that are far more compact than batteries. Emission-free cars may be the wave of the future, but their batteries, currently weighing more than 1,000 pounds, can’t scale up to propel long-haul trucks, oceangoing ships, and planes. Regarding cost, Alverà points out that wind and solar became competitive largely because mass production and competition drove the price down. Ten years ago, hydrogen cost $24 per kilogram; today, it’s between $4 and $5.5 per kilogram. The author predicts it will reach $2 within five years, “the tipping point at which it becomes competitive with fossil fuels.”

A surprisingly optimistic case for hydrogen as a source of clean energy.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5416-2041-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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Another winner featuring the author’s trademark blend of meticulous research and scintillating writing.

ON ANIMALS

The beloved author gathers a wide-ranging selection of pieces about animals.

“Animals have always been my style,” writes Orlean at the beginning of her latest delightful book, a collection of articles that originally appeared in “slightly modified form” in the Atlantic, Smithsonian, and the New Yorker, where she has been a staff writer since 1992. The variety on display is especially pleasing. Some essays are classic New Yorkerprofiles: Who knew that tigers, near extinction in the wild, are common household pets? There are at least 15,000 in the U.S. Her subject, a New Jersey woman, keeps several dozen and has been fighting successful court battles over them for decades. Lions are not near extinction, however; in fact, there are too many. Even in Africa, far more live in captivity or on reserves than in the wild, and readers may be shocked at their fate. Cubs are cute, so animal parks profit by allowing visitors to play with them. With reserves at capacity, cubs who mature may end up shot in trophy hunts or in stalls on breeding farms to produce more cubs. In “The Rabbit Outbreak,” Orlean writes about how rabbit meat was an American staple until replaced by beef and chicken after World War II, whereupon rabbit pet ownership surged. They are now “the third-most-popular pet in the country, ranking just behind dogs and cats.” Readers may be aware of the kerfuffle following the hit movie Free Willythat led to a massive campaign to return the film’s killer whale to the wild, and Orlean delivers a fascinating, if unedifying account. The author handles dogs like a virtuoso, with 10 hilarious pages on the wacky, expensive, but sometimes profitable life of a champion show dog. Among America’s 65 million pet dogs (according to a 2003 report), 10 million go astray every year, and about half are recovered. Orlean engagingly recounts a lost-dog search of epic proportions.

Another winner featuring the author’s trademark blend of meticulous research and scintillating writing.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982181-53-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

THE MEATEATER GUIDE TO WILDERNESS SKILLS AND SURVIVAL

The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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