Gretel Ehrlich’s latest book, The Future of Ice, is an intimate "ode and lament" on the effects of global warming. The conclusions are dire, of course: In the Arctic, as billions of gallons of fresh water pour into places like the Greenland Ice Sheet and where, in 2002, "at least 264,400 square miles of ice was seen to be retreating," there is dim hope for the ecosystem’s bears, walruses, seals, seabirds and fish. Ehrlich writes that by 2050, all the glaciers on Earth will have melted.
In addition to the Arctic, Ehrlich travels
to the southern Andes and within Wyoming and the Northern Rockies
to answer the question: What will life be like if winter
disappears? Spring already comes two days earlier each decade. And
we need winter. Without that snow and ice, less heat will be
deflected back into space and temperatures will continue to climb.
Yet, Ehrlich conveys the horrific news with such beauty
that readers will find it difficult to turn away. She melds hard
science with Zen stories, ancestral tales and personal experience.
It’s as if we are in her Wyoming cabin and she has made tea
to warm us during the last winter. "Winter is a time when we see
into things," she writes. "One minute, life is so much mush; in the
next, it comes clear. We break through ice to come on more ice, one
translucent door opening onto another."
becoming aware, demanding legislation, opening oneself to sadness
and using fewer resources, there is little we can do to stop global
warming. But Ehrlich adds a life philosophy worth adopting. Among
her tenets are "learn tenderness toward experience, then make
decisions based on creating biological wealth that includes all
people, animals, cultures, currencies, languages, and the living
things as yet undiscovered; listen to the truth the land will tell
you; act accordingly."
The Future of Ice: A
Journey Into Cold
pages, hardcover $21.95
A beautiful ode to a melting earth
You can buy this book and help High Country News, too.
BookSense.com is an on-line family of independent booksellers in communities near you. When you use the link below to buy a book through BookSense.com, you'll not only support local booksellers, you'll also help us: Five-and-a-half percent of each purchase goes to High Country News.