Adventures in the anthropocene A journey to the heart of the planet we made

Gaia Vince

Book - 2014

"We live in times of enormous change on Earth. While previous shifts from one geological epoch to another were caused by events beyond human control, our addition of carbon to the atmosphere over the past century has moved many scientists to declare the dawn of a new era: the Anthropocene--the Age of Man. This latest geological epoch is rarely associated with positive news. Pointing to climate change, overpopulation, and species extinction, the writers weighing in on the change widely asser...t that this dark cloud has no silver lining. Watching this consensus develop from her seat as an editor at Nature, Gaia Vince couldn't help but wonder if the greatest cause of this dramatic planetary change--humans' singular ability to innovate--might also hold the key to our survival. And so she left her professional life in London and set out to travel the world in search of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to adapt, and, in many cases, to thrive. She meets Nepalese engineers creating artificial glaciers, a man in the Caribbean who created an entire island out of garbage, and numerous other innovators--from Uganda, the Maldives, Columbia, and countless points between. Part science journal, part travelogue, Adventures in the Anthropocene recounts Vince's journey, and introduces an essential new perspective on the future of life on earth." -- Publisher's description.

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Subjects
Published
Minneapolis, Minnesota : Milkweed Editions 2014.
©2014
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Item Description
"First published by Chatto & Windus, a division of The Random House Group Ltd"--Title page verso
Physical Description
436 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color), map ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 395-415) and index.
ISBN
9781571313577
1571313575
Main Author
Gaia Vince (-)
  • Atmosphere
  • Mountains
  • Rivers
  • Farmlands
  • Oceans
  • Deserts
  • Savannahs
  • Forests
  • Rocks
  • Cities.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Science journalist Vince has an exceptionally fluent understanding of Earth's geophysics and the gift for conveying this knowledge with lucidity and zest. She is also an intrepid traveler with a mission. Given humanity's dominant role in shaping the biosphere, scientists have named our epoch the Anthropocene or the Human Age. Curious about what this means in the real world, Vince went on an ambitious, often risky global journey to see how people are adapting to changes on our warming planet. Her environmental travelogue is arranged according to habitat—mountains, rivers, farmlands, deserts, oceans, and cities. And she addresses a plethora of challenges, from drought to deforestation, ocean acidification, and mass extinction. But she also introduces us to extraordinary people who have developed brilliantly innovative solutions. Vince climbs in the Himalayas, where is it now warm enough to grow oranges while glaciers melt, causing severe water shortages and inspiring geoengineer Chewang Norphel to create artificial glaciers. Vince talks with Ugandan farmer Winifred Omoding and the president of the sinking Maldives in the Indian Ocean. She journeys on the Mekong River and, with courageous rain forest champion Rosa Maria Ruiz, the Amazon. There is no avoiding the complexity and severity of the situations Vince delineates, but she aims for positivity as she celebrates the wonders of nature and reminds us that we are a superbly adaptive species. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

Vince's book is about ordinary people who are dealing imaginatively with local ecological-social systems in a world assaulted by ecosystem cascades, global climate change, and volatile economies.  Rather than bemoaning their fate, the diverse people Vince encounters on her travels are actively adapting their lives to the self-organizing, emergent states that are spontaneously appearing during the "epic-making times" of the Anthropocene.  As Vince asserts, humans are an adaptable species: this seems confirmed by her encounters with the inspirational visions and concrete achievements of so many people.  Her approach is to synthesize the many different ways that people are segueing into the "heart of the planet we made."  Each of the nine chapters focuses on a particular setting: atmosphere, mountains, rivers, farmlands, oceans, deserts, savannas, rocks, and cities.  Vince's experiences are a powerful antidote to the doom and gloom proffered by the news media and many environmental and academic groups.  This book is not about saving Earth; it is about saving humanity.  With its engaging, thought-provoking narratives, this volume will expand, or perhaps fundamentally change, readers' views about the planet's emerging future. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. --P. R. Pinet, emeritus, Colgate University Paul R. Pinet emeritus, Colgate University http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/CHOICE.191445 Copyright 2014 American Library Association.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Science journalist Vince has produced a book, simultaneously deeply depressing and thoroughly uplifting, that is all but impossible to put down. Organizing her stories by ecosystem, Vince chronicles the planetary changes humans have wrought during the Anthropocene, the current geological epoch. In superb prose she summarizes the actions of people whose lives have been irrevocably affected by climate change, urbanization, industrialization, and rampant greed. These same people, some of the poorest on the planet, are taking active steps to transform their lives and communities. Vince writes in the first chapter about Mahabir Pun, a Nepalese teacher who brought free WiFi connections to remote Himalayan villages, enabling students to attend school online and village nurses and midwives to work in a telemedicine and dentistry clinic linked via webcam. She also describes the remarkable efforts of an Indian civil engineer, Chewang Norphel, to construct temporary glaciers to provide water for remote, high-elevation villages whose natural glacial aquifers have disappeared as temperatures rise. Vince travelled for two years, interviewing and observing, to compile this amazing view of both the present and the future, and she concludes that it is not yet too late to create a rich and sustainable "shared future." Illus. (Nov.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A journalist, broadcaster, news editor of Nature and online editor of New Scientist travels the world to witness first-hand our planet in crisis and, along the way, meets a number of ordinary people who are solving severe crises in crazy, ingenious, effective ways. 15,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A journalist, broadcaster, and news editor travels the world to witness first-hand the planet in crisis and, along the way, meets a number of ordinary people who are solving severe crises in crazy, ingenious, and effective ways.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

We all know our planet is in crisis, and that it is largely our fault. But all too often the full picture of change is obstructed by dense data sets and particular catastrophes. Struggling with this obscurity in her role as an editor at Nature, Gaia Vince decided to travel the world and see for herself what life is really like for people on the frontline of this new reality. What she found was a number people doing the most extraordinary things.

During her journey she finds a man who is making artificial glaciers in Nepal along with an individual who is painting mountains white to attract snowfall; take the electrified reefs of the Maldives; or the man who's making islands out of rubbish in the Caribbean. These are ordinary people who are solving severe crises in crazy, ingenious, effective ways. While Vince does not mince words regarding the challenging position our species is in, these wonderful stories, combined with the new science that underpins Gaia's expertise and research, make for a persuasive, illuminating — and strangely hopeful — read on what the Anthropocene means for our future.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

We all know our planet is in crisis, and that it is largely our fault. But all too often the full picture of change is obstructed by dense data sets and particular catastrophes. Struggling with this obscurity in her role as an editor at Nature, Gaia Vince decided to travel the world and see for herself what life is really like for people on the frontline of this new reality. What she found was a number people doing the most extraordinary things.During her journey she finds a man who is making artificial glaciers in Nepal along with an individual who is painting mountains white to attract snowfall; take the electrified reefs of the Maldives; or the man who's making islands out of rubbish in the Caribbean. These are ordinary people who are solving severe crises in crazy, ingenious, effective ways. While Vince does not mince words regarding the challenging position our species is in, these wonderful stories, combined with the new science that underpins Gaia's expertise and research, make for a persuasive, illuminating — and strangely hopeful — read on what the Anthropocene means for our future.