A Voyage Across an Ancient Ocean: A Bicycle Journey Through the Northern Dominion of Oil

David Goodrich. Pegasus, $27.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-64313-446-8
Scientist Goodrich (A Hole in the Wind) examines oil industry–dependent communities in the U.S. and Canada “where the seeds of climate change are sown” in this sensitive, if less than convincing, attempt to show how opposing voices in the debate over fossil fuels might be reconciled. Embarking on a 1,100-mile bike ride—from Fort McMurray, Alberta, the base of Canadian oil-sands extraction, to Williston, N.Dak., epicenter of the fracking boom—he makes vivid observations of how oil extraction can disfigure the landscape, from vast pools of industrial waste in Alberta that look like “foam in latte,” to brine spills in North Dakota that have contaminated groundwater. But he is less assured when considering how to move along the conversation about climate change. Frequently encountering people involved with the oil industry along his journey, Goodrich strives to overcome their suspicions of his background in climate research, while also pushing back gently against their misconceptions, such as that “climate has always changed.” However, he invariably agrees to let the topic drop so as to not disturb the bonhomie. Goodrich is a sure-footed, amiable guide to the science behind climate change, but brings readers no closer to understanding what it’s going to take to move the conversation about climate change forward. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/05/2020
Release date: 08/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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