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Many impacts of global warming are invisible to us, but the rapid shrinking of glaciers and the polar ice caps is obvious and alarming, and the dangers of the attendant rising sea levels are evident all around the world. In The Ice at the End of the World, Jon Gertner tells the dramatic story of Greenland’s ice sheet, past and present. The books below offer similarly vivid, scientifically accurate dispatches on the state of ice and the implications of its vanishing.
Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey into the Heart of the Planet We Made. By Gaia Vince. 2014. Milkweed, $18 (9781571313584).
Vince traveled the world to find out how people in diverse places are coping with climate-change challenges, including melting glaciers, drought, deforestation, ocean acidification, and mass extinction.
Before They’re Gone: A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks. By Michael Lanza. 2012. Beacon, $16 (9780807001844).
Lanza recounts family visits to “climate-threatened U.S. national parks,” where glaciers and forests are vanishing. This “climatic anarchy,” Lanza writes, “forces us to confront our deepest values.”
The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption. By Dahr Jamail. 2019. New Press, $25.99 (9781620972342).
A mountaineer who has witnessed the rapid erosion of glaciers in Alaska, journalist Jamail visits other regions undergoing the deleterious impacts of “climate disruption” and explains how the current decimation “could bring down the entire miracle of existence as we have known it.”
Fire and Ice: Soot, Solidarity, and Survival on the Roof of the World. By Jonathan Mingle. 2015. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (9781250029508).
Mingle reports on the damage done by carbon pollution to a tiny Himalayan village that for centuries relied on the snow melt from glaciers for water, but now the ice is nearly gone.
Fraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica. By Fen Montaigne. 2010. Holt, $23.99 (9781250002631).
Since 1975, biologist Bill Fraser has been studying Adélie penguins on Antarctica, where the disappearing ice is endangering their 500-year-old colonies.
Future Arctic: Field Notes from a World on the Edge. By Edward Struzik. 2015. Island, $27 (9781610914406).
Struzik makes the case for the Arctic’s unique place in the world and for recognizing and combating the growing threats to its viability.
The Future of Ice: A Journey into Cold. By Gretel Ehrlich. 2004. Vintage, $16 (9781400034352).
Ehrlich chronicled her sojourns in Greenland in This Cold Heaven (2001); here she reports on equally astonishing and rapidly declining places of deep cold and ice essential to the biosphere.
The Magnetic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle. By Sara Wheeler. 2011. Farrar, $26 (9780374200138).
Wheeler presents a riveting, many-faceted account of her travels in Lapland, Arctic Alaska, and Greenland, places reeling from catastrophic pollution and the “big melt.”
The Melting World: A Journey across America’s Vanishing Glaciers. By Christopher White. 2013. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (9780312546281).
White explains why melting mountaintop snow and ice will have just as much of an impact as the shrinking polar ice caps.
The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World. By Jeff Goodell. 2017. Little, Brown, $28 (9780316260244).
Goodell circles the globe and speaks with scientists and government officials about plans for coping with rising sea levels, including building vast seawalls, elevating infrastructure, and abandoning low-lying communities.
A Wilder Time: Notes from a Geologist at the Edge of the Greenland Ice. By William E. Glassley. 2018. Bellevue, $17.99 (9781942658344).
Glassley writes of his “incandescent experience” of Greenland’s surprising wilderness as he studies previously unexplored rock formations and makes galvanizing discoveries.
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