The last winter The scientists, adventurers, journeymen, and mavericks trying to save the world

Porter Fox

Book - 2021

As the planet warms, winter is shrinking. In the last fifty years, the Northern Hemisphere lost a million square miles of spring snowpack and in the US alone, snow cover has been reduced by 15-30%. On average, winter has shrunk by a month in most northern latitudes. In this deeply researched, beautifully written, and adventure-filled book, journalist Porter Fox travels along the edge of the Northern Hemisphere's snow line to track the scope of this drastic change, and how it will literally ...change everything--from rapid sea level rise, to fresh water scarcity for two billion people, to massive greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost, and a half dozen climate tipping points that could very well spell the end of our world. This original research is animated by four harrowing and illuminating journeys--each grounded by interviews with idiosyncratic, charismatic experts in their respective fields and Fox's own narrative of growing up on a remote island in Northern Maine.

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Subjects
Genres
Creative nonfiction
Published
New York : Little, Brown and Company 2021.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xii, 306 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographic references (pages 295-297) and index.
ISBN
9780316460927
0316460923
Main Author
Porter Fox (author)
  • The Fires.
  • It started in Cougar Flats
  • The bird is sick
  • The transfer of energy
  • Obelisks of time
  • The final question
  • The Icefield.
  • The law of high latitudes
  • Life and the living dead inside the glacier
  • The enchanted divide
  • The 10,000-year window
  • The Alps.
  • The great melt has arrived
  • The big picture
  • The ice city
  • The lost and found memories office
  • White Earth.
  • A bad omen
  • A brief history of death and survival
  • The lark's foot
  • Nancy Pelosi goes to Swiss camp
  • Club Aurora
  • The world is brutal - be happy you are not dead yet.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Podcast cohosts Cham, a scientist-turned-cartoonist (PHD Comics), and University of California, Irvine, professor Whiteson address Frequently Asked Questions About the Universe, from space and time to gravity, black holes, and the origins of everything. Winner of Lowell Thomas and Western Press Association honors, Fox blends memories of growing up on a remote Maine island and an explanation of how and why we are facing The Last Winter, with snow cover and the length of the snowy season shrinking precipitously in the last 50 years (35,000-copy first printing). Senior editor at Nature, Gee takes us back to Earth's roiling early seas as the bubbles that became life began forming, that strides us through A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth (60,000-copy first printing). Professor of medicine in the University of Michigan's Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Han gives us Breathing Lessons, explaining how the lungs work as she highlights their role as the body's first line of defense. Uganda's first Fridays for Future protestor and a leading climate justice crusader, Nakate blends proclamation and the personal in A Bigger Picture, arguing that while her community suffers disproportionately from climate change, activists from Africa and the global south are often not heard in the din of white voices. As one of five international delegates at the World Economic Forum, she was even cropped from an AP photo (40,000-copy first printing). Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

A gripping account of the declining state of the cryosphere by Fox (Northland: A 4,000-Mile Journey Along America's Forgotten Border). He reports from Greenland, the Alps, the Alaskan Icefields, and the wildfire zone of the Pacific Northwest's Cascades and immerses himself in the environments among the people who live and conduct research there. It might be considered a follow-up to his earlier book Deep, which examined how a warming climate would affect snowfall. Here, Fox describes in plain language the science, methodologies, and data of the glacial recession that scientists call "the Big Melt." The book's digressions from the scientific narrative fill out the picture; Fox discusses winter and alpine folklore, effects of climate change on Inuit people in Greenland, Greenlandic Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen, and his own fears for the future of his young daughter. Yet another dimension concerns Fox's struggle with the idea of climate change and its enormity. The picture that emerges is terrifying, as Fox eloquently describes the significant impacts of melting ice sheets and more frequent wildfires. The book includes archival photographs. VERDICT Fox has written an important, much-needed book about the climate crisis that injects a personal element into an abstract-seeming problem. This is popular science at its best.—Robert Eagan, Windsor P.L., Ont. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

A gripping account of the declining state of the cryosphere by Fox (Northland: A 4,000-Mile Journey Along America's Forgotten Border). He reports from Greenland, the Alps, the Alaskan Icefields, and the wildfire zone of the Pacific Northwest's Cascades and immerses himself in the environments among the people who live and conduct research there. It might be considered a follow-up to his earlier book Deep, which examined how a warming climate would affect snowfall. Here, Fox describes in plain language the science, methodologies, and data of the glacial recession that scientists call "the Big Melt." The book's digressions from the scientific narrative fill out the picture; Fox discusses winter and alpine folklore, effects of climate change on Inuit people in Greenland, Greenlandic Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen, and his own fears for the future of his young daughter. Yet another dimension concerns Fox's struggle with the idea of climate change and its enormity. The picture that emerges is terrifying, as Fox eloquently describes the significant impacts of melting ice sheets and more frequent wildfires. The book includes archival photographs. VERDICT Fox has written an important, much-needed book about the climate crisis that injects a personal element into an abstract-seeming problem. This is popular science at its best.—Robert Eagan, Windsor P.L., Ont. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Fox (Northland), editor of the literary journal Nowhere, spotlights a warming world in this moving travelogue about snowy places and the people who inhabit them. Decrying global warming's effect on glacier ice, snow terrain, and high-altitude snowpacks, Fox pals around with scientists who are studying how Earth's ice, snow, and winters "affect and even control" the planet's natural systems. In "interviews, revelations, confessions, treks, bonfires, meals, and contemplative road trips," Fox tries to wrap his head around a world without winter, and cites grave conditions, such as the prediction that "most will be gone in the next century." He visits Juneau, Alaska, to meet with glaciologists studying the ice ages; goes to Corvara, Italy, to follow along with mountaineers enduring ever warmer tours through the Alps; and heads to Kulusuk, Greenland, to observe how the Inuit cope with ice loss as glaciers slide into the sea "faster than snowfall could replenish them." Perilous journeys on skis and by dog sled give this the feel of a rollicking adventure story: "Each driver steered this slightly controlled state of entropy not from the back of the sled, where the brake is, but up front, setting up exciting and often terrifying driving-without-brakes situations." Environmentalists will find much to savor in this exciting yet distressing tale. Agent: Duvall Osteen, Aragi. (Nov.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A blend of narrative travelogue, history, and climatology is set against the end of ice, snow, and winter as we know it.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

In this meticulously researched, brilliantly written and adventure-filled book, a journalist, in this blend of narrative travelogue, history and climatology, travels along the edge of the Northern Hemisphere’s snow line to show an unexpected casualty of climate change. 35,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

One man’s “curiously thrilling joyride” of travelogue, history, and climatology, across a planet on the brink of cataclysmic transformation (Donovan Hohn).As the planet warms, winter is shrinking. In the last fifty years, the Northern Hemisphere lost a million square miles of spring snowpack and in the US alone, snow cover has been reduced by 15-30%. On average, winter has shrunk by a month in most northern latitudes.In this deeply researched, beautifully written, and adventure-filled book, journalist Porter Fox travels along the edge of the Northern Hemisphere's snow line to track the scope of this drastic change, and how it will literally change everything—from rapid sea level rise, to fresh water scarcity for two billion people, to massive greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost, and a half dozen climate tipping points that could very well spell the end of our world.This original research is animated by four harrowing and illuminating journeys—each grounded by interviews with idiosyncratic, charismatic experts in their respective fields and Fox's own narrative of growing up on a remote island in Northern Maine.Timely, atmospheric, and expertly investigated, The Last Winter will showcase a shocking and unexpected casualty of climate change—that may well set off its own unstoppable warming cycle.