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Reviews Written by
STEPHEN PLETKO "Uncle Stevie" (London, Ontario, Canada)
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The Optimistic Environmentalist: Progressing Toward a Greener Future
The Optimistic Environmentalist: Progressing Toward a Greener Future
by David R. Boyd
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.38
34 used & new from CDN$ 13.40

4.0 out of 5 stars "A new human right--to live in a healthy environment--has emerged and is now endorsed by 90% of the world's countries", May 21 2016
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“Yes, the world faces substantial environmental challenges—climate change, pollution, [species] extinction. But the surprisingly good news is that a remarkable number of environmental problems have been solved, while substantial progress is ongoing on others.

[This book] chronicles these remarkable success stories and suggests a bright green future is not only possible, it’s within our grasp.”

The above comes from this extremely positive book by David Boyd. Boyd is an environmental lawyer, professor, and award-winning author.

Before reading this book, I read some of the endorsements for it. Endorsing it were people like Jane Goodall (primatologist, anthropologist, U.N. Messenger of Peace), David Suzuki (geneticist, professor, science broadcaster, environmentalist), and Elizabeth May (Canada’s first Green Party Member of Parliament, lawyer, author, environmentalist). I said to myself, “This book must be good.”

I was not disappointed. This book was not only good, it was fantastic.

This book does EXACTLY what it says it’s going to do. It provides kind of an antidote to the plague of ecological negativity we’re bombarded with by giving readers a sense of optimism that a greener, cleaner, healthier, and happy future IS possible.

This hopeful attitude isn’t based on cherry-picking some heart-warming, kumbaya anecdotes but is based on a sober and balanced examination of the FACTS about humanity’s past environmental successes (there’s an excellent chapter on how humanity saved the ozone layer), current trends (such as people demanding and using electric transport), and future possibilities (such as the future of buildings).

To be totally honest, the extent of the good news regarding progress to solving our environmental problems astonished me.

And what is the optimistic environmentalist’s message to the world? Answer: we can do better. The solutions to all our environmental problems are available NOW, and implementing then will make us wealthier not poorer. All over the world, this vision is becoming a reality.

Finally, the only problem I had was that this book had no index. This is truly a pity. A wealth of important information on a critical issue is presented but there is no easy access it.

In conclusion, David Boyd has given us all a great gift: a book to lift our spirits. We must all become optimistic environmentalists because, after all is said and done, the Earth is a beautiful place to call home.

(First published 2015; introduction; 3 parts or 10 chapters; conclusion; main narrative 205 pages; bibliography; acknowledgements; about the author)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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Shakespeare: An Introduction: Ideas in Profile
Shakespeare: An Introduction: Ideas in Profile
by Paul Edmondson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.95
44 used & new from CDN$ 5.66

5.0 out of 5 stars I thinketh my friend William Shakespeare would enjoyeth this book. Dost thou agree?, May 14 2016
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"'This book is not primarily 'about' performance or criticism though both relate closely to how I understand and enjoy Shakespeare. Nor will it tell you the stories of the plays (except a few, incidentally, in passing).

But it will, I hope, explain what kind of writer Shakespeare is, where his work came from, why it matters, what he means to me, and why I think he is worth spending time with (though there is never any moral obligation to like his work)."'

The above comes from this book by Rev Paul Edmondson. He is Head of Research and Knowledge as well as Director of the Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival for The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. He is also a trustee of The British Shakespeare Association.

(Stratford-upon-Avon is a town in Warwickshire, England, on the River Avon. It is the birthplace of playwright and poet William Shakespeare, 1564 to 1616.)

This book is touted as an 'introduction' to Shakespeare (but curiously not by the author himself) but it seems to me to be so much more. As this book tells us about Shakespeare, I found it to be informed, witty, up-to-date, and well-written. It seems to whet the reader's appetite for Shakespeare, not satiate it. This is good as Shakespeare should never be a duty.

The first chapter presents something of what Shakespeare's life and career were like, the places he spent time in, some of the people he knew, and the world in which he lived. It gives an historical overview of the FACTS about his life avoiding assumptions. The next chapter looks at his writing process in the theatre (which was the shaping force of his imagination). Chapter three considers what he wrote. Shakespeare was a poet and thinker who wrote enduring plays as well as a dramatist who wrote equally-enduring poetry.

The fourth chapter details Shakespeare's power as a dramatic poet through his depiction of thought and emotion by considering six topics: love, war, history, mortality, transgression, and forgiveness. The penultimate chapter considers performance as a way of encountering Shakespeare, the importance of theatre reviewing, and suggests how we might place ourselves as close as possible to his language by reading a Shakespeare sonnet aloud to ourselves. The final chapter answers to question 'Why Shakespeare?'

This book is illustrated with drawings throughout that enhance the narrative.

Though not stated explicitly, this book may have been written to commemorate the death of Shakespeare 400 years ago. (He died April 23, 1616.)

Finally, the very beginning of this book presents a forty-six entry chronological listing of Shakespeare's works with dates. While this is okay, I think it would have been more informative to divide this list into categories such as tragedies, comedies, histories, sonnets, lost plays, etc. Beside each entry in a particular category, important information could have been given.

For example, under the category '"Comedies,"' you might have this entry: "'The Tempest (1610-11, Tragicomic Romance),"' under "'Tragedies,"' you might have the entry '"Troilus and Cressida (1602, Problem Play, Minor Play),"' and under "'The Sonnets,"' you would have "'1582-1609, 154 written.'" (A sonnet is a type of poem of 14 lines.)

In conclusion, read this book to find out for yourself what all the fuss is about and if Shakespeare REALLY deserves his reputation. Or you can read this book to learn about the man who said we should:

'"Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say."'

(First published 2015; a chronology of Shakespeare's works; introduction; 6 chapters; main narrative 170 pages; further reading; notes; acknowledgements; index)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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Gratitude
Gratitude
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "I am now face to face with dying, but I am not finished with living", May 6 2016
This review is from: Gratitude (Kindle Edition)
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“I cannot pretend I am without fear [of my diagnosis]. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written…

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

The above comes from the second essay in this slim book by Oliver Sacks (July, 1933 to August, 2015). He was a neurologist, professor, and author of thirteen books (most of them best-sellers). Sacks was called the “poet laureate of contemporary medicine” and “one of the great clinical minds of the twentieth century.” He was the recipient of many awards including honours from the National Science Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Royal College of Physicians.

(Note that the title of this review is found on the dedication page of this book.)

This book consists of four essays. All of them originally appeared in “The New York Times.” The first essay was published in July, 2013 while the last three were published in February, July, and August of 2015 respectively.

The first essay was published just days before Sacks’ eightieth birthday. The next one was published after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. The penultimate essay was published when Sacks was enjoying relatively good health while the final one was published just two weeks before his death.

What do these four essays reveal about Sacks? He faced aging, illness, and death with quite remarkable grace and clarity.

Of all the things you can learn from this book, here is my favourite in his own words:

“It is the fate…of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

Six black and white photographs permeate this little tome. I found that they gave this book an intimate feel.

Yes, this is a short book. The question is: “Is it worth buying?” In my opinion, yes! This is a unique book since it gives the final thoughts and the life-long wisdom of a learned dying man. For those unfamiliar with Sacks’ other books, this book may inspire you to check them out.

Finally, another book that is similar to this one is entitled “Mortality” by Christopher Hitchens (1949 to 2011).

In conclusion, this short and sweet book is Oliver Sacks’ posthumous gift—a fittingly lovely farewell. I leave you with the final paragraph from this book and perhaps Sacks’ final published words:

“And now, weak, short of breath, my once firm muscles melted away by [my illness], I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life—achieving a sense of peace within oneself.

I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.”

(First published 2015; forward; 4 essays/chapters; main narrative 45 pages; about the author)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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American Experience - Edison
American Experience - Edison
DVD ~ Michael Murphy
Price: CDN$ 26.99
18 used & new from CDN$ 18.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Tells the story of a genius inventor who said that "genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration", April 30 2016
This review is from: American Experience - Edison (DVD)
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“In mid-October, 1922, a film crew arrived in the small town of West Orange, New Jersey, to spend some time with one of the most famous men in the world: the phenomenally prolific American inventor Thomas Edison. Over the course of a few days, the cameras captured the great man at work…in his lab…and catching up on the latest advances in the [inventions] for which he was best known, the incandescent light, [the phonograph], and motion pictures.

For these and scores of other inventions, Edison has justly earned acclaim as the “Inventor of the Age.” But no mere machine could account for his metamorphosis from inventor to icon.

Poised at the starting line of the American rush into the modern world, Edison became a standard bearer. The impact of his native genius made infinitely more powerful by his timing, his canny knack for self-promotion, and his compulsive need to win. In the end, the intensity of Edison’s drive proved both blessing and curse, costing him the allegiance of a life-long friend and control of the industry to which he had given life, even as it guaranteed him a kind of immortality.”

The above is spoken by the narrator at the beginning of this extraordinarily informative documentary about the life of Thomas Edison (1847 to 1931). This is an episode of the television series entitled “American Experience.”

Besides the excellent narration, there are brief comments given throughout by historians, biographers, etc. What I especially enjoyed was the old black and white film footage where we get to hear Edison’s actual words. There is also extensive use of black and white still pictures.

Edison had over a thousand patents to his name. By the end of this program, I guarantee you’ll understand why he was called a “wizard.”

Finally, this documentary mentions that Henry Ford actually worked for Edison before he founded Ford Motor Company. It does not mention that Nikola Tesla also worked for Edison. Tesla is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. (I mention this because Edison was involved with direct current {DC} and, as this documentary explains, Edison saw AC as a major rival.)

In conclusion, this is just a fantastic documentary about a man, Thomas Edison, who single-handedly created the image of an inventor! I leave you with the first words that Edison uttered into his phonograph:

“Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.”

(2015; 1 hr, 50 min excluding end credits; 12 chapters; wide screen; PBS)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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The Brain: The Story of You
The Brain: The Story of You
by David Eagleman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.78
34 used & new from CDN$ 16.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be a "brain" to understand the brain, April 23 2016
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“In writing [this book], I wanted to get away from a textbook model in favor of illuminating a deeper level of enquiry: how we decide, how we perceive reality, who we are, how are lives are steered, why we need other people, and where we’re heading as a species that’s just beginning to grab its own reins.

This [book] attempts to bridge the gap between the academic literature and the lives we lead as brain owners. The approach I take here diverges from the academic journal articles I write and even from my other neuroscience books.

This [book] is meant for a different kind of audience. It doesn’t presuppose any specialized knowledge, only curiosity and an appetite for self-exploration.”

The above comes from the introduction of this well-written, easy-to-read book (a companion to the PBS series of the same name) by David Eagleman. He is a neuroscientist (or nervous system scientist) who specializes in brain plasticity, time perception, synesthesia, and the intersection of science with social policy. {Plasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt by creating new or modifying existing neural connections. Synesthesia is the condition in which a sensory experience normally associated with one sense modality (like vision) occurs when another sense modality (like hearing) is stimulated. For example, particular sounds producing particular colour sensations.}

We are given a tour of our brain or “inner cosmos” with Eagleman as our guide. Through our journey, we encounter such things as the world of extreme sports, criminal justice, facial expressions, genocide, brain surgery, gut feelings, robotics, and even the search for immortality.

Each chapter begins with an introduction that serves as a teaser for what is to come in that particular chapter. Here is the introduction to the first chapter:

“All the experiences in your life—from single conversations to your broader culture—shape the microscopic details of your brain. [Neurologically] speaking, who you are depends on where you’ve been. Your brain is a relentless shape-shifter, constantly rewriting its own circuitry—and because your experiences are unique, so are the vast, detailed patterns in your neural networks. Because they continue to change your whole life, your identity is a moving target, it never reaches an endpoint.”

And here is the introduction to the final chapter:

“The human body is a masterpiece of complexity and beauty—a symphony of forty trillion cells working in concert. However, it has its limitations. Your senses set boundaries on what you can experience. Your body sets limits on what you can do. But what if the brain could understand new kinds of inputs and control new kinds of limbs—expanding the reality we inhabit? We’re at a moment in human history when the marriage of our biology and our technology will transcend the brain’s limitations. We can hack our own hardware and steer a course into the future. This is poised to fundamentally change what it will mean to be a human.”

Throughout the book are pages with a blue background that zero-in on a particular topic. My favourite blue background page is entitled “The Vest.” This is an actual wearable vest that Eagleman and a graduate student built to provide sensory substitution for the deaf that allows them to “hear.” (Sensory substitution is an approach to compensate for an impaired sense in which sensory information is fed into the brain through unusual sensory channels.)

Also, throughout the book are illustrations (pictures, diagrams, etc.). I found these aided the narrative substantially. As well, there is a brief glossary at the end of the book.

Finally, I had some problems with this book. There is no index. A wealth of information (some of it cutting-edge) is presented but there is no easy access to it. As well, I feel that the glossary could have been expanded.

In conclusion, this is an excellent book on a difficult subject that gives you “a whistle-stop tour into the inner cosmos.”

(First published 2015; introduction; 6 chapters; acknowledgements; endnotes; glossary; image credits)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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NOVA: Invisible Universe Revealed
NOVA: Invisible Universe Revealed
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 26.98
17 used & new from CDN$ 18.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Humankind's window on the Universe: The story of the telescope that has brought the Universe to the citizens of planet Earth!!, April 16 2016
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“It may be the boldest experiment ever undertaken in astronomy—with a legacy that will endure for centuries. This single tool—the HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE—has revealed [such things as] the size and age of the Universe, the birthplace of stars, and the existence of black holes. It’s helped us find planets like our own in far-off solar systems and a mysterious force--dark energy—that makes up about seventy percent of the Universe.

The story of Hubble is the story of discovery. It’s also the story of one of the biggest blunders in the history of science. And of the genius and courage that saved the day.

Now on Hubble’s 25th anniversary, NOVA tells the remarkable tale of how this magnificent machine was built, how it solved some of our most enduring mysteries, and how it is showing us a Universe as beautiful as it is astounding.”

The above is said by the narrator at the beginning of the magnificent documentary about the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

This film does a fantastic job of tracing the history of NASA’s HST from its conception (in 1946!), telling us about the astronomer it’s named after, Edwin Hubble (1889 to 1953), and introducing us to the “mother of the Hubble.”

We then see its deployment in low Earth orbit on April, 1990 and the discovery that the HST needed glasses to see properly! Then we eavesdrop on the 1993 servicing space mission that actually put the new glasses on it and the resultant drama to see if they actually worked.

The last part of this documentary is absolutely stunning as we’re told of some of the key questions Hubble has answered. For example:

(1) How old is the Universe?
(2) How many stars are in the Universe?
(3) How do galaxies (a gravitationally bound system of stars) actually form?

Finally, the images shown throughout are mind-boggling and the animation is instructive. Brief comments are provided by experts.

In conclusion, there are not enough words to describe the magnificence of this wonderful documentary!!!

(2015; 53 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 6 scenes; NOVA-PBS)

<<Stephen PLETKO. London, Ontario, Canada>>

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Darkman (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
Darkman (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Liam Neeson
Price: CDN$ 12.95
35 used & new from CDN$ 1.51

5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm everyone...and no one...everywhere...nowhere. Call me DARKMAN", April 9 2016
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“What is it about the dark? What secret does it hold?”

The above comes from this intriguing and different superhero action film that was directed and co-written by Sam Raimi.

This movie is based on a short story Raimi wrote to pay homage to Universal’s horror films of the 1930s.

Briefly, Liam Neeson stars as Peyton Westlake, a scientist who is attacked and left for dead by ruthless mobster, Robert G. Durant (Larry Drake), after his girlfriend (Frances McDormand) runs afoul of a corrupt developer (Colin Friels). Westlake, now as Darkman, seeks revenge.

Clearly, this would be a routine revenge movie were it not for the good acting of the key players, especially Neeson and Drake. Then you have the thrilling visual effects. Finally, there is witty dialogue.

Here is one of my favourite pieces of dialogue:

First thug: Bum leg?
Second thug: [Knocking on his wooden leg] No leg.
First thug: I was engaged to a girl once with a wooden leg.
Second thug: Yeah? What happened?
First thug: Had to break it off.

This movie is kind of like a “Phantom of the Opera” (but high-tech) as well as a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

I was impressed that Darkman is fully explored moving through the entire range of emotions, from timid romance to rage and despair.

The movie itself has a quirky scientific logic.

I also enjoyed the background music. It adds to each scene.

This movie is not for everyone. It is a fantasy movie that although violent provides interest and escapism. Above all, it is a highly original movie that seems to draw you in. I can see why it has become a cult favourite.

Finally, the DVD itself (the one released in 1998) has three extras. This movie has earned back about three times its operating budget.

In conclusion, for those who want to treat themselves to a truly, original superhero film, this is definitely the movie to see. By the end of this movie, you’ll probably agree that “crime has a new enemy and justice has a brand new face.”

(1990; 1 hr, 30 min. excluding end credits; 16 scenes; wide screen)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels
by Alex Epstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.48
41 used & new from CDN$ 19.46

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Have you hugged the people who work in the fossil-fuel (oil, coal, natural gas) industry lately?? If you haven't, you should!!, April 3 2016
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"'Here, in a sentence, is the moral case for fossil fuels, the single thought that can empower the world: Mankind's [sic] use of fossil fuels is supremely virtuous because human life is the standard of value, and because using fossil fuels transforms our environment to make it wonderful for human life."'

The above comes at the very end of this slickly written book by Alex Epstein. From this book's inside back flap, we're told that he started the 'Center for Industrial Progress' and that 'he has publicly debated leading environmentalists.' Oddly, we are not given any indication of his credentials. Through my own research, I found that Epstein's only credential is a philosophy degree. (That's right, a philosophy degree!)

Let me state from the onset that this book has many, many flaws that are too numerous to explain. It even has a science fiction feel to it in some sections. Such a book (for me anyway) is very difficult to review. What I'm going to do is highlight some of the obvious problems with it.

At the very beginning of this book we're told that Epstein agrees that fossil fuels cause climate change, that they cause pollution, and that they are non-renewable.

Epstein states that the power or energy derived from fossil fuels is cheap, plentiful, reliable, and scalable. I agree. But fossil fuels have been recently (within the past thirty years or so) discovered to have a tragic flaw. They release the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide when combusted or 'burned.' This has led to climate change which, as I said above, Epstein agrees with. But despite this, he says that we should be burning MORE fossil fuels.

This is like taking a drug for a medical condition, discovering that it has serious side effects, but continuing to take it and even taking more of it.

How is it possible that Epstein can arrive at such a silly conclusion?

Answer: He claims that climate change is not a 'serious problem.' He comes to this conclusion through the typical methods used by climate-change deniers and other truthers: cherry-picked data, misinterpretation, and by berating scientists who he accuses of 'deliberately misleading the public, which inevitably leads to uninformed, dangerous decision-making.'

In one chapter with many graphs, Epstein constantly confuses correlation with causation. For example, in one graph there is a correlation between fossil fuels and increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He concludes that fossil fuels cause GDP to increase. But he gives no explanation of exactly how fossil fuels causes GDP to increase.

In another chapter, Epstein tells us that 'life-expectancy' is a leading indicator 'of human flourishing.' This idea leads back to climate change (which in this chapter he calls 'catastrophic climate change') where more people should be dying due to the climate. But the selected graphs he analyses show the opposite: 'more fossil fuel use, fewer drought-related deaths;' 'more fossil fuel use, fewer storm-related deaths.'

This is misleading because climate change predicts only that the climate will become more unstable and unpredictable NOT that there will be more deaths. If he would have analysed the proper graphs, he would have found that more fossil fuel use causes more droughts and storms.

This book will have you pausing to think: 'Did he really say that?' My favourite 'pause' moment occurs when he states that 'there is no inherent reason to think that the EXTINCTION of any given plant or animal is bad for humans.' (Epstein tells us that he doesn't like wolves and bears so let's eliminate them.)

Here's some more of what Epstein says or implies:

(1) You can't rely on climate models.
(2) Scientists in the 1970s predicted global cooling, so what do they know?
(3) Nuclear energy via nuclear fission is safe. (Ask those who experienced the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan about how safe nuclear energy is)
(4) Fracking is safe. (Ask anyone who lives close to a fracking site about how safe fracking is)
(5) Extracting oil from the tar sands is safe. (Ask the Aboriginal people who live close to the tar sands how safe such extraction is)
(6) Humans are 'masters of climate.' (I think Epstein obtained this phrase from the sci-fi cartoon series 'Masters of the Universe')
(7) There are only three renewable energy sources: solar, wind, and biomass.

Epstein celebrates that 'fossil fuels are instrumental in purifying the air we breathe and the water we drink.' But what was the cause of the pollution in the first place?

He puts down renewables saying that they're inferior to fossil fuels. However, contrary to what he says, the technology exists for the American economy to achieve 80% reliance on carbon-free solar, wind, and other renewables sources by 2050. If that sounds like wishful-thinking, take note that both Germany and Denmark are well on their way.

There is absolutely nothing said in this book about ocean water acidification (caused by absorption of excess carbon dioxide) thus putting all marine life in danger or the disappearance of glaciers that are used by millions of people as a fresh water drinking source. And how about acid rain. Remember that? Apparently Epstein doesn't.

Finally, at the end of the day and this book, Epstein needs to ask himself what is moral about bequeathing an overheated, environmentally-degraded planet to future generations.

In conclusion, there is no 'moral case for fossil fuels' just as there was no 'moral case for slavery' in the mid-1800s. The fact is that fossil fuels have never been about morality but they (especially oil) have always been about MONEY.

Here's another fact:

We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change and we are the last generation that can do something about it.

(First published 2014; 9 chapters; main narrative 210 pages; acknowledgements; select biography; notes; index)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Catastrophe
Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Catastrophe
by Helen Caldicott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.86
29 used & new from CDN$ 11.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What this book tells us: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SAFE NUCLEAR POWER, March 26 2016
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'The Fukushima disaster is not over and will not end for many millennia. The radioactive fallout [or release], which has covered vast swaths of Japan, will remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. It cannot simply be 'cleaned up,' and it will continue to contaminate food, humans, and animals.'

The above is found in the introduction of this eye-opening and thorough book edited by Dr. Helen Caldicott. She is a physician, author, and anti-nuclear advocate. Caldicott is the co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, founder of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute (now known as Beyond Nuclear), and a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize as well as the president of the Helen Caldicott Foundation.

For those that are unsure, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was an energy accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (located in Okuma, Fukushima, Japan) initiated primarily by a tsunami (tidal wave) that was triggered by an earthquake on (March 11, 2011). The damage caused by the tsunami produced equipment failures, and without this equipment, a loss-of-coolant accident followed, resulting in three nuclear meltdowns (that is, the melting of the cores of the nuclear reactors) and the release of radioactive material beginning on (March 12, 2011).

It is the largest nuclear disaster since the Chornobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.

This book came about from a symposium organized by Caldicott that was held on (March 11-12, 2013) at the New York Academy of Medicine. The symposium was and this book is concerned with the medical and ecological consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.

This book is a compilation of the symposium presentations where the world's leading scientists, epidemiologists, physicists, physicians, and others presented. It contains information that has never before been seen by either the nuclear industry or the public at large.

Each chapter of this book is thus authored by a person who was at the symposium. Caldicott, besides writing the last transcribed symposium presentation/essay/chapter in this book, also wrote the excellent introduction to it.

Here are selected phrases from this book's chapter titles:

Contaminated world; radioactive cesium; effects of ionizing radiation; biological consequences; congenital malformations; radioactive waste; radioactive risks; food monitoring; epidemiologic studies; cancer risk.

There is a section at the end of the book entitled 'About the Contributors.' This section tells us about the person who wrote a particular chapter. For example, chapter 1 is authored by Herbert Abrams who we are told 'is the emeritus professor of radiology at Stanford University and member of the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) Committee of the National Academy of Sciences.' I recommend referring to this section first before reading a particular chapter.

Finally, there could have been a few things added to this book to make it more user-friendly. A glossary would have been beneficial, preferably at the end of each chapter. I feel more illustrations (diagrams, pictures, etc.) would have enhanced this book. Lastly, an index would have been handy.

In conclusion, this is the book to read for all those who care about the future of our beautiful planet in this nuclear age!!

(First published 2014; introduction; 20 chapters; main narrative 225 pages; notes; about the contributors; about the editor; publishing in the public interest)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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Nova: Lethal Seas [Import]
Nova: Lethal Seas [Import]
Price: CDN$ 32.26
13 used & new from CDN$ 18.56

5.0 out of 5 stars CARBON DIOXIDE does it again!!, March 19 2016
This review is from: Nova: Lethal Seas [Import] (DVD)
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“It covers more than two-thirds of the Earth. Its power is tremendous. Its importance to life, unquestioned. But now, something is changing in the sea, threatening some of our planet’s most spectacular treasures. And attacking the ocean’s fundamental web of life.

Scientists are in a race against time to discover the real risks and come up with solutions. Off a remote island, an amazing discovery: a spot that could hold the key to our future.

Can we crack the code of a rapidly changing ocean to understand what it means for life before it’s too late?”

The above is said by the narrator at the beginning of this extremely informative documentary.

The narrator tells us that “something is changing in the sea.” That “something” that’s changing is the water’s chemistry. What’s causing this change? Answer: the extra carbon dioxide that we’re dumbing into the Earth’s atmosphere. This extra carbon dioxide is absorbed by the oceans.

What does this mean for ocean life? It’s being negatively affected. And this in turn negatively affects humans.

This film explains (quite well) what’s happening to the ocean’s water chemistry. (I’ve just given a very brief summary). Then we get to follow scientists as they seek solutions to this seemingly unsolvable problem.

Finally, throughout this documentary, brief but important comments are given by experts. Besides the excellent scientific information imparted to the viewer, there is also impressive photography and film footage.

In conclusion, this is the documentary to get if you want to know what’s happening to our oceans and what scientists are doing to understand and perhaps solve this perplexing problem!!

(2013, 2015; 52 min, 30 sec excluding end credits; wide screen; 6 chapters; PBS)

<<Stephen PLETKO. London, Ontario. Canada>>

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