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After the Ice: Life, Death, and Geopolitics in the New Arctic Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For decades, scientists knew that the Arctic's summer ice had been slowly shrinking, but they did not anticipate that "an enormous area" would suddenly melt away in 2007: "Explanations kept changing as the Arctic sprang new surprises." Global warming in itself was not a sufficient explanation, nor was "Arctic Oscillation," fluctuating wind patterns that create changes in atmospheric pressure. Searching for answers, Anderson, former editor-in-chief of New Scientist magazine, travelled extensively in the region-"Svalbard, Alaska, Norway, the Canadian Islands and both Coasts of Greenland"-checking out a hypothesis that the Oscillation had formed thinner surface layers, which melt more quickly. Satellite pictures, combined with underwater submarine probes, tracked the motion of the ice over several summers, allowing scientists to "follow areas of ice as they moved... and track which ice survived," chart the effects of salinity variations, and more. Anderson also meets members of the Inuit community, traditional hunter- trappers who share "troubled stories" of forced relocations, efforts to preserve self-rule, and adapting to the realities of climate change. In this fascinating, insightful overview, Anderson asserts that the days of the "iconic big beasts of the Arctic" are numbered, but remains hopeful about the Arctic's uncertain future.
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From Booklist

Anderson, a biologist and former editor in chief for New Scientist, was thrilled to see his first polar bear on his first trip to the High Arctic, until a colleague pointed out that the bear was starving to death. Endangered polar bears are emblematic of the drastic changes under way in the Arctic, but there are many more stories to tell about this land in flux. Anderson traveled far and wide, speaking with reindeer herders, hunters, and dozens of experts in diverse fields, piecing together the most panoramic picture yet of this crucial region. Delving into Arctic history, he offers fresh insights into the traditions of indigenous people and the consequences of Arctic exploration, colonization, exploitation, and pollution; and he is equally adept at parsing the growing international scramble for the Arctic’s oil, gas, and minerals. With measurements from satellites and submarines quantifying the rapid shrinking of Arctic ice, Anderson joins the call to reduce carbon emissions to slow global warming. Inquisitive, cogent, and compelling, Anderson shares his findings, concerns, and fascination with this vulnerable “place of profound and diverse beauty.” --Donna Seaman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian; 1 edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061579076
  • ASIN: B0046LUEOG
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #838,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Robinson on December 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Alun Anderson has gone several steps beyond just complaining about or mourning the changing climate in the Arctic in his book, "After the Ice: Life, Death, and Geopolitics in the New Arctic."

He tells us in well-documented form that while the rest of the world might get exercised about the occasional polar bear, there are serious developments involving control, industrialization, oil drilling, ethnic issues and much more, related to the changes occurring in the frozen North. What we don't see because it is so far out of our view is the international struggle to control its future because so much of the rapidly fading past is lost for good. Anderson has spent much time watching developments, interviewing experts on site, and witnessing the loss of habitat and displacement of people. For those who are worried about the seas rising because of melting ice or the loss of ice-packed beautiful scenery, Anderson acknowledges those concerns but notes that events are rapidly moving ahead of those obvious issues. As the ice thins and then disappears, new sea routes are opening, setting off struggles among Greenland, Canada, the United States, Russia Norway and others, all of whom want to control the area and have access to its natural resources.

For those most concerned about the damage to native seal, walrus and polar bear populations, this well-written book offers plenty of heartbreaking material as he quotes people who witnessed starving bears, walrus stampedes and the changes in human culture. But everything he writes is buttressed by charts, documented by scientists, in many cases, for decades.

Deniers of the human factor in global climate change won't be swayed by these facts either but everyone else will rightly be concerned by what is going on and who is determining the future of such a vast and important part of the globe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Richard Byers on March 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After the Ice is a wake-up call. The prediction that the summer ice in the Arctic will be gone by 2100 is wrong. New convincing evidence rolls the prediction backward. It will come much earlier - with dates ranging from 2016 to 2045. The summer ice is melting from beneath, by warm temperate ocean waters being transported to the Arctic and by air pollution, not global warming, from above. It answered my questions as to why the entire Arctic and Greenland is melting fast while only the west side of the Antarctic ice is disappearing. What's scary is what will happen when the summer ice is gone and the Arctic starts absorbing heat instead of reflecting it? Will the planet thermometer make a sudden jump? Nearly all the documented information is in stark contrast to what certain politicians and certain news agencies would have us believe. Alun Anderson did a marvelous job in his two years of traveling throughout the Arctic talking to scientists, nuclear submarine captains, and the inhabitants. His sources are many, from the 1800's to the present, all listed, a real eye opening peek into a rapidly changing Arctic with effects that will be felt worldwide.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lenny on February 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I give most books away after I read them. This is one of those few books I kept for future reference. It's packed with interesting, scientific & analytic information about what is happening in the Artic, and what will happen in the coming years along with the implications for us all. It doesn't pontificate; it informs. I like that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Scott on November 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Alun Anderson's After the Ice is a thought-provoking book that discusses effects of climatic change in the Arctic, a topic that is becoming ever-increasingly important in today's world. Instead of having a blatant agenda, Anderson presents the facts; this includes talking about the people that climate change would affect, their lifestyles, the politics that affect world trade and how these politics help bring about the changes being observed, as well as the multitude of different species that are affected negatively or positively in some way by the shrinking ice.

The Arctic represents something unique in this world, as it is one of the last large areas of unclaimed territory. It now has the attention of many countries, all interested in possibilities of vast reserves of natural gas and oil. Anderson does a thorough job of describing the diversity of geopolitics in the North, as well as the many various scientific findings of the last 20 years. He puts this all together in an informative page-turner. Anyone who has ever given climate change a single thought should read this book. Anderson writes with a style that allows the reader to make his or her own conclusions; he simply presents facts, and extremely interesting ones at that.

Anderson's style is enjoyable, as he presents viewpoints that one would not think of conventionally. He discusses the science and money that is being put into the oil industry, the Inuit tribes that are observing changes never seen before, microscopic species that are dependent upon the ice, and the possible transformations the ecosystems and food webs are facing. This book is difficult to put down, and it allows you to appreciate what we currently have. It is undeniable that change is coming. Anderson explains why in an eloquent yet casual manner, connecting with the reader on a deeper level. Overall, it is a book well worth reading. Anyone who has ever given climate change a single thought should read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Savant on November 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alun Anderson's book After the Ice gives many different perspectives on climate change that are often overlooked. Throughout the book, Anderson's main goal is to educate the reader, in a succinct and simple manner, about why the Arctic is vital to the world and how much of an impact the loss of ice will have.
This book gives a new and private view on the effects of global warming and climate change. Anderson delves deep into the personal experiences of the native people of the Arctic. In doing so, he replaces the distant picture of a melting expanse of ice with one of human suffering and loss. Anderson also refutes the common notion that global warming is not affecting us by showing that the ice is vanishing as we speak. And although it is too late to stop the process completely, he says we can still slow the process down enough to possibly allow the people and animal species time to adapt. In short, Anderson simplifies complex and misunderstood problems into something that is easy to grasp.
Anderson boldly attempts to balance the sad realities of the present Arctic with the hopeful possibilities of the future Arctic. He condenses all of the uses and effects of ice into one concise book - and all of the information is effectively supported with facts and statistics from knowledgeable experts in the field. Although Anderson's writing is filled with detailed evidence, it is not dense. His writing style is relatively easy to read and friendly to average readers - a great asset to his cause.
This book is a must read for all levels of environmental knowledge. The topics in Anderson's book often caused me to ponder about feedback processes, weather cycles, and if countries had the right to "own" the Arctic - all issues I never would have thought about before reading about it.
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