Journalist and author Dahr Jamail takes his readers on a tour of places all over the earth that bear witness to the effects of anthropogenic climate disruption from Denali and the Bering Sea to the rainforests of the Amazon jungle and the coral reefs of Guam and Australia. He examines the effects of climatic disruption on habitats, animal relationships, and people as he travels about and interviews local inhabitants, officials, and scientists. Believing that intimacy with these threatened environment will lead to a desire to care for them, Jamail chronicles his first hand observations and supports them with data from leading scientists in order to focus attention on the urgency of the planetary crisis.
Jamail describes the places he visits with love and respect for all that he encounters and the readers can easily get caught up in the author’s enthusiasm. They can wonder at the majesty glaciers, the beauty of the coral reefs in Guam, and marvel at the complexity of the habitat of the Everglades, but they also have to read about their rapid decline in the wake of climate disruption. We learn that the disappearance of glaciers is bringing dwindling supplies of drinking water, that vast areas of coral are bleached and dying, and that the melting of Greenland is of special concern for Florida because the influx of freshwater will weaken the Gulf Stream and accelerate the rise of sea levels. Many of the most memorable parts of the book are the observations of the people that are living daily with the effects of climate disruption. Simeon, the mayor of the village of St. Paul in the Bearing Sea, tells about the loss of the seal population, the decline of the halibut and snow crab, and the increasing severity of storms, all with great impact on the people living there. Jamail does not offer solutions to the many problems he discusses but shares his personal commitment to become intimate with nature and focus on “obligations” rather than ”rights”.
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