Staff Pick

Once written off as an icy wasteland “of no use to mankind,” Greenland over the last century has come to occupy a major role in climate change studies. In this fascinating history of the world’s largest island, Gertner recounts how that shift came about. A study of extremes, the book is divided into two parts that could almost be describing different places. “Explorations” follows the treks of Nansen, Peary, Rasmussen, and Wegener, men who were as much adventurers as scientists, even as their expeditions laid the ground for modern glaciology. Traveling by sledge, they spent months crossing the hundreds of miles of Greenland’s ice sheet, enduring unimaginable cold, hunger, loneliness, and in some cases surviving by burrowing underground. Gertner vividly evokes these struggles and writes beautifully about the unforgiving landscape. By 1949, thanks to planes and snowmobiles, the ice sheet was much easier to navigate. It was also smaller and warmer, and “Investigations” charts the simultaneous advances in technology that allowed researchers to drill to the bedrock below the ice—extracting a “core” rich with data about ten thousand years of weather—and the growing understanding of rising temperatures and sea levels, feedback loops, and Greenland’s central position in all this as “the world’s cooling system.”

The Ice at the End of the World: An Epic Journey into Greenland's Buried Past and Our Perilous Future Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812996623
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Random House - June 11th, 2019

Staff Pick

Rich’s heartbreaking book is the story of a window opening and closing. It covers the decade between 1979, when the EPA published a report on the effects of carbon emissions, and 1989, when world leaders meeting in Noordwijk failed to sign a binding global resolution to stabilize those emissions. But what might have been an exercise in outrage or a dry account of meetings, hearings, debates, and reports is a gracefully written narrative that lets us get to know the key figures involved and that offers real insights into why we’ve failed to summon the political will to act in a coordinated, meaningful way on a deadly serious issue. And there are surprises: petroleum companies haven’t always been deniers. Initially, they accepted the science of climate change and, understanding that “the longer the industry waited to act the worse it would go for them,” were ready to change.  So what happened? It’s tempting to blame Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and John Sununu. But as Rich shows, if it was so easy for other government leaders to back down in the face of America’s reservations, they were never fully committed in the first place. Unlike a local environmental crisis or even the catchily phrased “ozone hole,” the future is large and abstract and we won’t be there to see what it’s really like.

Losing Earth: A Recent History Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374191337
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: MCD - April 9th, 2019

Staff Pick

To jolt people out of their complacency about climate change, Wallace-Wells gathered the data on twelve key elements of today’s ever-more unstable world. Delivered in one concentrated punch, the statistics on the global rise in heat, ferocity and frequency of storms, droughts, famines, ocean acidification, and political unrest are truly shocking. Add to these the cascade effect of their unpredictable interactions—more carbon in the soil fosters larger plants with fewer nutrients, which sharpens competition for dwindling protein sources, leading to more social unrest, climate refugees, and so on—and Wallace-Wells presents a truly horrifying picture of a world that is hurtling toward apocalypse.  Yet despite his title, Wallace-Wells believes that even by the end of the century—about as far as we can bear to look at this point—only one third of Earth will actually be uninhabitable. We still have time to change. But will we?  Human behavior is the greatest of the many unknowns that lie ahead, and, without laying out particular policies, Wallace-Wells offers a profound reflection on what it will mean for us to live—for the first time ever—outside “the narrow window of environmental conditions that allowed the human to evolve” and, most crucially, that enabled us to create a civilization based on fossil-fuels.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525576709
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Tim Duggan Books - February 19th, 2019