Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:
Hope Jahren is a geobiologist known for her work with soil silence and fossil forests. Currently as the University of Oslo in Norway, she has won numerous prestigious awards and in 2016 published the highly-acclaimed memoir “Lab Girl.”
Her second book is called “The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go From Here.”
But don’t start yawning. Jahren engagingly interweaves meticulously researched data with her Minnesota childhood (she was born in 1969), family history, and our own daily lives.
Early on she sets forth her central thesis: “[M]ost of the want and suffering we see in our world today originates not from earth’s inability to provide but from our own inability to share….It is because so many of us consume far beyond our needs that a great many of us are left with almost nothing.”
In succeeding chapters, she charts several unmistakable trends over the past hundred or more years: increased life span, steady urbanization, massive leap in grain yields due to genetic modification, the corresponding increase in pesticide use.
She includes fascinating pages on the human and animal production of manure, lays out why meat-eating represents a massive waste of resources (aquaculture doesn’t fare much better), delineates the dangers of the high-fructose corn syrup that permeates our food supply, and describes her life-long hatred of cars.