What's the Worst That Could Happen?: A Rational Response to the Climate Change Debate

This lively, jaunty, yet ultimately serious-as-cancer little book about global climate change strikes me as evidence that the quintessential American spirit of the Founding Fathers and the Greatest Generation is alive and well. A Jeffersonian exercise in rational public discourse, appealing to the reasoned, good-hearted wisdom of an educated, well-intentioned citizenry, Greg Craven's book reminds me of the famous Norman Rockwell painting from the Four Freedoms series, Freedom of Speech. An earnest fellow in a crowd of his anxious peers gets up to say his honest piece -- and we all benefit. Craven, a high school science teacher, came to prominence just a couple of years ago with a viral Internet video laying out a logical methodology for cutting through all the controversy surrounding the topic of global warming. Craven's brainstorm was to make a lateral jump away from undecidable "right vs. wrong" arguments into the realm of risk management and quasi-journalistic vetting of sources. By applying simple principles of reasoning, he affirmed, one could pick the most beneficial future course of action for oneself, humanity, and the planet without taking sides. The issue was no longer truth but merely "placing the best bet." The first half of this ensuing book is a lucid examination of the tools necessary for making a rational examination of the facts. The second portion examines contentions and sources on both side of the debate. And a coda lays out Craven's own personal application of his strategy, followed by an invitation and template for the reader to do likewise. Throughout, Craven is modest, funny, inventive, and sincere: the ideal teacher. His breezy yet dogged pursuit of a compassionate, utilitarian plan of action in the light of uncertainty yields convincing and inspiring fruit.

July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.


What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.