The fragile earth Writing from the New Yorker on climate change

Book - 2020

"A collection of the New Yorker's groundbreaking reporting from the front lines of climate change-including writing from Bill McKibben, Elizabeth Kolbert, Ian Frazier, Kathryn Schulz, and more"--

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New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers [2020]
Other Authors
Elizabeth Kolbert (writer of afterword)
First edition
Physical Description
xvi, 541 pages ; 24 cm
  • Foreword / by David Remnick
  • Reflections : the end of nature / by Bill McKibben
  • The climate of man ; The darkening sea / by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • Writers in the storm / by Kathryn Schulz
  • The end of ice / by Dexter Filkins
  • The new harpoon / by Tom Kizzia
  • The sixth extinction? / by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • The ice retreat / by Fen Montaigne
  • The inferno / by Christine Kenneally
  • The end of the end of the world / by Jonathan Franzen
  • The emergency / by Ben Taub
  • The day the Great Plains burned / by Ian Frazier
  • Life on a shrinking planet / by Bill McKibben
  • Green Manhattan / by David Owen
  • Big foot / by Michael Specter
  • The great oasis / by Burkhard Bilger
  • The climate fixers / by Michael Specter
  • Adaptation / by Eric Klineberg
  • Power brokers / by Bill McKibben
  • Value meal / by Tad Friend
  • Trailblazers / by Nicola Twilley
  • Afterword / by Elizabeth Kolbert.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

This illuminating and powerful collection is filled with pieces on climate change originally published in the New Yorker. The selections are bookended by entries by science writers Bill McKibben--whose 1989 "The End of Nature" was, the editors note, "the first extensive exploration of climate change" for the general public--and Elizabeth Kolbert, with her disillusioned "Afterword." In between, the collection includes work by essayists (Ian Frazier), novelists (Jonathan Franzen), foreign correspondents (David Filkins), and sociologists (Eric Klinenberg). It covers shrinking glaciers in the Indian Himalayas; how the acidification of the world's oceans threatens marine life; and the unprecedented scale of wildfires in Australia, California, and the Great Plains. Other essays describe how life is changing for whale hunters in Point Hope, Alaska, one of North America's oldest continuously settled communities; reforestation efforts in sub-Saharan Africa; a company's efforts to wean America off meat with plant-based burgers; and scientists who explore drastic geoengineering technologies. Permeated by a sense of urgency--McKibben comments in a more recent piece that "what has defied expectations is the slowness of the response"--this is a memorable book with a resounding message. (Oct.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

This collection brings together three decades of New Yorker essays about climate change, 21 in all. Arranged into broad themes around what caused the current crisis, what effects are we seeing, and what solutions are offered, the book manages to avoid some potential pitfalls of topical anthologies: repetitiveness of content or tone and unevenness of quality. The "global" in global climate change means that possible subjects are wide-ranging both geographically and in potential ramifications to explore, and editor Remmick chooses well to represent this variety. Bill McKibben (The End of Nature) and his successor Elizabeth Kolbert (The Sixth Extinction) are represented by multiple articles each, including those that formed the basis of their bestselling books. Virtually all of the selections are similarly immersive and engaging; only Jonathan Franzen's autobiographical contribution seems tonally out of place. Reading three decades of essays on this important and urgent topic, one is appalled that we know so much and have repeatedly done so little with that knowledge, as well as simultaneously hopeful and skeptical that technological solutions can save us now. VERDICT A well-selected collection of reportage and reflection that will find a place on the bookshelves of all interested in environmental history.--Wade Lee-Smith, Univ. of Toledo Lib.

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Diverse perspectives on the fate of the Earth. Since the mid-1980s the New Yorker has offered incisive writing on climate change, with essays by Bill McKibben, Elizabeth Kolbert (the magazine's "leading voice on the environment"), Eric Klinenberg, Ian Frazier, Kathryn Schulz, and many others. In an informative, stimulating collection, Remnick and Finder have gathered 22 pieces that contribute, he hopes, "to a shared sense of urgency--and to a shared spirit of change." Kolbert writes of her discovery "that large and sophisticated cultures have already been undone by climate change," a disturbing precedent at a time when much damage to the environment cannot be undone. "Because of the slow pace of deep-ocean circulation and the long life of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," she notes, "it is impossible to reverse the acidification that has already taken place. Nor is it possible to prevent still more from occurring." On land and in the sea, mass extinctions are probable: "By the end of this century as many as half of earth's species will be gone." From an island off northwestern Antarctica, Fen Montaigne reports that of 900 breeding pairs of Adélie penguins recorded in 1974, only 11 adults and 7 chicks remain, a situation caused by "the effects of the rapid warming on the formation of sea ice, on the phytoplankton and Antarctic krill that depend on the sea ice," and on the birds "that rely on the sea ice and the krill." David Owen makes a case for the "environmental benignity" of densely populated cities. Although many people assume that rural areas are more environmentally sound, Owen reveals that "spreading people out increases the damage they do to the environment, while making the problems harder to see and to address." As Michael Specter notes, assessing the environmental, social, and economic consequences of one's choices--what to eat, where to live, how to travel--is complicated. Top-shelf writers deliver urgent and compelling calls for dramatic change. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.