cover image At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth

At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth

Madeline Ostrander. Holt, $28.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-62051-4

“What happens when the rhythms, the seasons, the known patterns within which we have built our homes, our lives, our towns, our places, go off-kilter,” science journalist Ostrander wonders in her somewhat uneven debut. In examining how the concept of “home” is shifting as the planet becomes increasingly inhospitable, she cites data showing that in 2019 alone, 24.9 million people lost their homes to “climate change impacts.” She interviews an Annapolis, Md., architect working to protect the city from rising sea levels, an Alaska administrator who is relocating a rural community because of erosion, and an ecopsychologist researching the connection between “people’s emotional health and the natural world.” Ostrander finds examples from history of Indigenous engineering solutions to address rising sea levels, such as coastal shell mounds, that are far more effective than the “shimmering new real estate developments, glassy luxury condos, palatial beach houses, and boxy McMansions” across the Atlantic Coast. Her writing is strong, but she tends to get sidetracked with undeveloped ideas (“We will need a new set of stories about what it looks like to live on Earth in a manner that doesn’t destroy our future”). Still, those willing to sift through the chaff will find fascinating musings on a changing planet. (Aug.)