The plastic paradox and how to regulate the seas: books in brief

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Plastic unlimited

Alice Mah polity (2022)

An excess of single-use plastic – accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic – is clear to all. It’s also clear that “despite all the toxicity and pollution that come with plastic, it’s hard to imagine living without it,” writes sociologist Alice Mah in her vivid and sophisticated study. Chapters cover plastic toxicity, marine waste, the climate emergency, the pandemic and the cumulative plastic crisis. However much individuals reduce their personal use, the core problem remains the capitalist drive for unlimited growth.

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James Poskett Sailor (2022)

The internationalism of science is widely recognized. But scientists rather see it as a recent phenomenon that emerged from the “big science” of the twentieth century, not as a phenomenon with a history of more than 500 years dating back to the Islamic science that inspired the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, and beyond. . historian James Poskett. His revised “world history” boldly refutes this: “The myth that modern science was invented in Europe is not only false, but it is very pernicious.”

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The earth

Elsa Pancirolic Greenfinch/Quercus (2022)

This highly illustrated life history from paleontologist Elsa Panciroli brings to life 47 plants and animals, starting 2.5 billion years ago with early eukaryotes — the group that includes most multicellular organisms — and ending with humans. The reader encounters corals and graptolites, earthworms and dinosaurs, ants and woolly mammoths. Fossils are key to understanding geologic time, as are the age, composition, and distribution of rocks, but these can be misleading because “in deep time, solid rock can flow like water and crumble like paper.”

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The Poseidon Project

David Bosch Oxford University. Press (2022)

The ancient Greek god of the sea was “unpredictable, almost always on the move, and dangerous,” notes David Bosco, an international relations specialist. His ironically titled book is a complex yet readable study of ocean governance ranging from politics to science, beginning with the 1609 Defense of the Freedom of the Seas by Dutch lawyer Hugo de Groot. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has yet to bring in the world’s greatest maritime power, the United States. Nevertheless, Bosco concludes, ocean regulation will increase.

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The Monster’s Bones

David K. Randall WW Norton (2022)

A monstrous, 66-million-year-old fossil of Tyrannosaurus Rex symbolizes the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, just as the Rosetta stone does the British Museum in London. But few know how it was found. The entertaining book by journalist David Randall focuses on a fearless fossil hunter, backed by a privileged socialite, and includes robber barons, eugenicists and cowboys. “Instead of a mirror in the past,” Randall says, “the creature proved to reflect the concerns of the present.”

Competing Interests

The author declares no conflict of interest.

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