Book Review-Apocalyptic Planet

planet

Image description: Book cover with abstract circle designs.

Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the everending Earth
by Craig Childs
Pantheon Books, 2012

Half nature writing, half Gonzo journalistic exposé of the impact of the dawning anthropocene era, Craig Childs’ book is a compelling and engrossing read.

He depicts the planet as an unstable, shifting and magnificent beast. The Earth rends, crushes, chews and digests. Glaciers melt, sea floors become mountain tops and deserts devour. With boots on the ground, Childs witnesses this awe-inspiring process first hand; not as a geologic process too slow to be comprehended except in the abstract, but as a myriad of cataclysms taking place right here in the present and observable within our lifetime.

Although he doesn’t take on a pessimistic or proselytizing tone, he’s clear about the impact that humans have on this delicate, seemingly chaotic system. Despite the title, the book is neither a history of the planet nor a futurists guide to what we can expect. Instead, it is a musing the present, apocalyptic process we are all living through.

It’s well researched with an extensive bibliography but accessible in style; making it good reading for the daily commute-but keep your smartphone handy as he neglects to explain many of the jargon terms associated with various fields such as mountaineering. I found myself needing to pause to quickly look up new phrases pretty often.

An enjoyable read for the environmentally and scientifically conscious armchair traveler.

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