Book Review: The End of Ice, Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the path of Climate Disruption, by Dahr Jamail

Fair warning folks, this not my normal book review.

I generally do cycling books, with a few exceptions. This one though, is without a doubt, the BEST book I have read on climate change, and the effect mankind has and is having on the planet right now.

My compatriots out there who know we are messing up the planet would love this book. However, for those who don’t, read the post Maybe it will get you to read the book. And reading the book might, just might, shed better light than I have done trying to convince you. It is THAT good a book!

How good is it? It is good enough I am considering buying a hard copy just to make highlights and put in my own notes in the margins. I haven’t done that since college.

Dahr Jamail is a journalist who spent a lot of time covering the wars in the Middle East. Give this book a chance and you will see he is one helluva writer,

More importantly though, the man is a mountain climber, forest lover and national park fan. In short he spends and has spent an enormous amount of time in nature. He writes, “Mountains are where I go to listen to the Earth.” To him, as it is for me, our making a mess of the planet is personal!

He also writes, “Those of us who spend time in nature, whether as a climber, gardener, backpacker, herbalist, fisherman or hunter; have our own version of what Aldo Leopold referred to an ecological education. We are acutely aware of the changes already upon us.” Shoot just look around!

What makes this book so well done is the way he presents the facts.

Far too many books on climate change are filled with entirely too many numbers and charts. You get the point where you just don’t want to see any more. Or they only talk about places far away and what could happen.

Dahr takes a different tack. And it resonated well me. He talks about the here and now! His experience over the decades and what he is seeing. And he talks about places I have been.

When he was younger he volunteered and then worked at Denali Basecamp as well as the high camps on Denali itself.

This is one huge glacier surrounded by mountains covered in glaciers (These photos are mine from 2006)

 

Denali

Looking at these photos, one would have a hard time imagining this ever melting.

But melting it is! He tells of whole sides of mountains, routes that have been there since people started climbing, just sloughing off. Rain, or VERY wet snow, at extremely high elevations on the mountain. And, for the first time in the decades people have been coming here to climb. Mosquitos are now at basecamp. Thats how warm it is getting. What he says about the actual amount of glacier that is disappearing each year is down right scary. In some places this glacier is over 1000 feet thick, and it will be gone.

However, most people don’t get to Denali.

In fact, he states, “Most people in the developed world are not connected enough to a place on the planet to notice. They are unaware of the dire ramifications of this (climate change) means, for both the planet and the species.

So he talks about places that people who aren’t close to nature might understand. Such as Palm Beach Florida. Where they have Sun Floods. Whats a Sun Flood? When in the state where the governor forbids the official use of climate change or global warming, they downtown section regularly floods at very high tides. There is no wind,  no rain, no tidal surge. The sea levels have raised enough already that a simple high tide means some streets aren’t useable. For the record, this did NOT occur when the roads were first built.

Those of us in the northwest value our trees. He talks about the forest that SHOULD be helping by absorbing CO2. But because of the climate issues, trees are dying. It isn’t cold enough to kill bark beetles in the winter, so acres upon acres of trees are dead, Droughts are killing others. Even sequoias are being affected.

Then a spark flies and we get this!

Massive amounts of smoke being pumped into the air from bigger fires than we have ever seen! This is now happening yearly in Seattle. Folks, I have lived here since 1977 and NEVER did I see this occur until the last 5 years or so.

We in the northwest love our snowcapped mountains and he talks about them, and mountains in other parts of the lower 48.

The year round whiteness are glaciers. There will come a time, soon, these will be gone. Glacier National park has only a handful left. And when they are gone, the rivers that they feed will dry up. Then where are we?

Just an aside, he has the best argument ever for “Climate change is made up by scientists who need jobs.”

“Imagine you have heart disease, and 95 of of 100 doctors tell you that HAVE heart disease and need to treat it. But the podiatrist and eye doctor tell you that maybe you are OK and if you keep your fingers crossed you’ll be fine, so don’t do anything.” Who would you believe? How is this different??

Dahr goes farther afield though. He talks to naturalists who lament the loss of coral in the ocean due to the acidity rising, He talks to native Alaskans who’s elders tell him how much has changed in their lifetimes. Which, in their histories, has never happened. He visits the Amazon to see what changes are occurring and what this means

In short, this is the first book that echos the things I have seen, and then went on the scare the crap out of me.

Honestly, we are in trouble. Now for me, hell I am old. Things could and provably will, get dicey in my life time. But the kids and those still to be born, they are REALLY in trouble.

Give it a read, give it some thought, and then think about what we can do… I for one am worried…

5 stars, it is one hell of book!

 

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