Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth

Craig Childs. Pantheon, $27.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-307-37909-2
In an adventure tale, scientific overview, requiem, and celebration, Childs offers a mesmerizing and provocative look at our ever-changing, “everending” planet. We live on “an excitable planet,” one where mass extinctions—five previous and a sixth currently underway—happen in cycles we’re only beginning to understand. To deconstruct popular notions of impending apocalypse and what such an event might entail, Childs, an adventure journalist and science commentator, sweeps readers away to Earth’s most extreme environments: from Mexico’s Sonoran desert—where clustered bones of Pleistocene animals mark an ancient watering hole—to a frigid, treeless expanse on the west coast of Greenland. In northern Patagonia, he visits a great melting ice field, the “last of the Ice Age in retreat.” Hiking in Grundy County, Iowa, through steamy, humid fields ruthlessly cleansed of everything but dense rows of genetically modified corn, he notes how “biodiversity, one of the key indicators for environmental quality, has tanked in these agricultural regions.” Stunning descriptions underscore that, by all evidence, “This is what every mass extinction in earth’s history has looked like.” Childs’s lively writing reveals awesome, otherworldly landscapes—a rock-riddled, monsoon-swollen river in northeastern Tibet; the stark, searing lava fields around Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano—sharing his wonder at their existence as much as what they reveal about our planet’s future and past. Agent: Kathy Anderson, Anderson Literary Management. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/16/2012
Release date: 10/02/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 226 pages - 978-0-307-90781-3
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-307-47681-4
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