Every Breath You Take: Exploring the Science of Our Changing Atmosphere

Mark Broomfield. Pegasus, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-64313-334-8
With this illuminating volume, debut author Broomfield, an air-quality specialist at an environmental consulting firm, brings readers on a “theoretical journey through the atmosphere” in accessible and sometimes wry prose. He begins outside the solar system, with one of the first Earth-like planets discovered to have an atmosphere, and works his way back toward Earth. He explains how Jupiter and Saturn are “pretty much gas all the way down—or putting it another way...100% atmosphere” and that Mars has its own snow, “though not the watery stuff that we’re familiar with, but flakes of solid carbon dioxide.” To explain differences in air pressure and oxygen levels, Broomfield recalls travels to the Himalayas, where, at nearly 17,000 feet above sea level, he found himself “breathing hard when engaged in strenuous activities such as doing up a shoelace or standing still.” What most readers will likely find particularly relevant are Broomfield’s chapters on air pollution and mortality. He focuses on China and India, whose coal-dependent industries have, in recent decades, made air quality in both countries abysmal. He also gives reminders of how bad smog used to be—and occasionally still is—in Western cities like Los Angeles and London. Broomfield’s helpful look at the air up there, thanks to its breezy tone and solid insights, will make the links between pollution and health both tangible and intriguing to a general audience. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 04/30/2020
Release date: 10/06/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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