12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2009
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2011
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2011
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2010
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2010
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. And if reading Anderson's book caused all readers to think twice about these important issues, Anderson will have achieved his goal. A captivating read, After the Ice informs readers about the Arctic and the hopeful future it holds and should be high on your list of books to read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2010
Alun Anderson's book about the "new Arctic" is a book that is accessible to people without doctorates in chemistry or environmental analysis, but at the same time, I would describe it as a nonfiction book for people who already have some basic knowledge of the Arctic and the problems associated with it. With that said, if you already know something of the area and have some interest in the finer details of the recent history of the region, this is an excellent book with which one can supplement one's knowledge. One of my favorite things about this book was that I didn't feel confused about any of the science or political parts, and any jargon that was used was thoroughly explained.
Anderson's writing style is to-the-point and unambiguous, but at the same time keeps one interested. There are sections in the book that are written marvelously, evocative of images that stay in one's head long after one has read the specific passage. He clearly is passionate about the subject which he writes about, something that keeps the writing fresh and interesting.
As to the information presented, Anderson manages to keep the parts with things that people may or may not already know infused with facts that keep one from getting bored. For example, the section on polar bears-- the animal that is the "face of the Arctic"-- while normally a subject that people have awareness of, manages to integrate information about their lifestyles that isn't in the public knowledge. But then he takes it one step further, questioning the relative importance of the polar bear to other animals and plants that are not as well-recognized, even on the microscopic level.
There were a couple of parts that I found a little dry, like the chapter that talked about technology in the oil industry and types of icebreakers. It was a little too much talk about technical aspects of the machines, when I would be more interested in the impact that they have. Even though the science was explained and accessible, I personally couldn't make myself too interested in the particulars. Overall, though, this book is definitely worth buying even to skip around in if you are interested in the "new Arctic."
on November 19, 2010
Shanell writes: Alun Anderson documents how the melting sea ice will change the Arctic in regards to biospheres, Inuit lifestyles, and geopolitics. Anderson makes this book memorable by giving you personal accounts. He tells you about his travels to the Inuit lands and his encounters with polar bears and Inuit tribes. He humanizes the people and describes their traditions and the polar bear's natural hunt. During his discussion about the fate of the polar bears, he states that he went into the mind of the polar bear. He also gives accounts of the Inuit cultures. He tells the history of some of the tribes indigenous people and makes sure you know how important the Arctic is to them. By providing these accounts, he makes it more critical to care about the Arctic. He makes the impact that modern society has on the environment a more emotional action. Overall, he is good at creating sympathy for traditions such as the narwhal hunt and species such as the polar bear that will die out when the sea ice melts. Though Anderson gives his personal views into the book he also provides a lot of factual information that one would not know. The average person would not know a lot about the geopolitics of the Arctic. He talks a lot about the Law of the Seas Act and its effect on geopolitics. Anderson makes sure that you know all of the methods that are used to damage the Arctic. Overall Anderson writes a book that goes to inform people and drive them to action. He shows how the ice melting affects everything in our lives. He shows that loved animals such as the polar bear will no longer exist. He shows that the geopolitics of the Arctic destroys the environment that many ecosystems and communities depend on. He does use some scientific information, such as the terms for ice density that could cause people to stop the melting sea ice because they do not have any scientific background. He also does not reach a broad audience, but a narrow one of people who are willing to make a serious change.. Personally I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who wants to know about human effects on the Arctic. Be sure to read this book because you will learn how you could help the Arctic and feel much more informed on a personal level.
Maricela writes: After The Ice, by Alun Anderson, is a great book. It introduces the impacts of the melting of the Arctic ice cap in a variety of ways through many different perspectives. Throughout the entire book, Anderson speaks to many people from all sorts of scientist to native Inuit people. Anderson explains how the Arctic ice cap has fallen into a cycle which every year creates less and less ice. Anderson shows how the melting of the Arctic ice cap affects the animals in the Arctic and how it affects the native people living there. He describes along what could happen when all the ice is gone. He even introduces the conflicts that the countries bordering the Arctic face: who will own what part of the Arctic? Many questions about the melting of the Arctic ice cap and the Arctic in general are answered in After The Ice. Anderson is able to tie politics, business, the ecosystem and much more together in this book. Anyone who wants to learn about the Arctic and the effect the world is having on it should definitely read this book. Anderson does such a wonderful job explaining what actually is happening and how that affects everyone and everything around the Arctic. One does not need to be an activist or a scientist to understand what is being said, it is clear and concise. He includes his research and findings without complicated jargon that would lose a non-scientific audience; instead Anderson converts his study into something that the reader can definitely relate to. At times I had an unexpected emotional response reading the book. This book definitely will make anyone who reads it more aware of the Arctic and the struggles that it faces. Anderson writes about what really is occurring in the Arctic without bias; all that he depicts throughout the book is based on solid research. He reveals the truth of what has happened, what is happening, and what may happen to the Arctic.
Maria writes: After the Ice: Life, Death, and Geopolitics in the New Arctic by Alun Anderson effectively describes and explains recent developments regarding climate change in the Arctic. Anderson artfully depicts the current situation using interviews and personal stories he collected in the field, data collected from many expert scientists on site, as well as descriptions of what he himself witnessed while in the Arctic. He has spent a great deal of time collecting data and talking to people in the area which gives the reader a first-hand look at what is really going on. This book looks at all sides of the problem, examining the thirst for Arctic oil and the politics surrounding it as well as the lifestyles of the native people and their views on the issue. I particularly liked to read about his interviews and interactions with the native Inuit people who I rarely read about in news articles regarding climate change in the arctic. This group of people has called the Arctic home for many generations and I feel Anderson appreciates this and makes their voices heard in his work. He supplements the opinions and attitudes of the native people with raw data describing the changes we have seen which I found very effective. The biological and environmental changes are by no means ignored. He describes big changes in the arctic food web and uses scientific data to show the drastic effects of climate change. To prevent his argument from being lost in the numbers (as I feel many descriptions of global warming do), he adds heartbreaking first-hand accounts of the animals that are being affected to invoke an emotional response in the reader. Anderson does a good job of incorporating the past to describe the present and using that to predict the future of this region. Anderson does not shove any opinion at the reader but rather gives us all sides of the situation in describing the problems up north. He shies away from making any strong assertions, which could leave some readers wanting. At some points a strong opinion would help solidify the data he provides. I also found myself wishing he had spent more time focusing on suggested solutions to the problems he so thoroughly describes. Overall, After the Ice a good starting point for anyone interested in learning about this area. Anderson brings us along in his exploration of the `new arctic' leaving the reader with all the tools necessary to formulate an educated opinion and join him in his passionate struggle for knowledge about this very important, and quickly changing, part of the world.
on November 17, 2010
"Forget the familiar view of the world with the great land masses of Asia, American, Europe , and Africa dominating the map. Instead, take hold of a globe and look straight down on it from above the North Pole." This piece of advice starts Alun Anderson's book After the Ice: Life Death, and Geopolitics in the New Arctic. The book, which tells the story of major change in the Arctic, urges the reader to take this new view of the world. By telling the story of the native people of the Arctic, assessing the health of the Arctic ecosystems, and recounting the rush to harvest the resources of the Arctic, Anderson tries to show that the Arctic is a central feature of our lives.
The title of After the Ice hints at a major theme of the book: the vanishing of the Arctic summer sea ice. Throughout the book, Anderson connects most of the changes in the Arctic to the ice. For example, the vanishing ice threatens the population of many animal species. The decline in these species then threatens the food source and culture of many native peoples. At the same time, longer ice free periods allow more shipping opportunities, which allows more exploration of oil and gas fields and brings tourists to the region.
Anderson does not merely describe the current state of the Arctic. He also tells how the changing Arctic could affect the planet in the future. He describes the ability of melting Arctic to rapidly increase global warming and flood many major cities. He also writes that resource extraction could lead to environmental disasters that would exacerbate the threat of climate change. The inclusion of the implications for the future helps Anderson connect to his reader. Combining a readable style that merges technical facts with common language with a bit of humor, Anderson educates the reader on the importance of the changing Arctic.
But the book is not just a retelling of facts. Instead, it is a call for action. Throughout the book, Anderson makes connections between the different actors in the Arctic that go beyond the obvious ones. He achieves this connection through an account of Arctic politics. In each section of the book, Anderson explains the complicated politics that determine the response to change. By explaining the conflicts and policies of the five states that border the Arctic Ocean, Anderson clearly and succinctly shows the reader that the future of the Arctic lies in politics of these countries. He also explains that politics are currently not keeping up with the changing Arctic. His detailed and frightening stories are an appeal to the reader to call for change. With the awareness and effort of the public, we can be successful in managing and adapting to the changing Arctic.
After the Ice is not just a book about the Arctic. It is a book meant to educate the public about the implications a changing Arctic has for the world, and it is a book that everyone must read.
on November 17, 2010
Much of the information surrounding climate change is fragmented and mangled before it even reaches us. Newscasters look for "good stories," and siphon off much information. Films like An Inconvenient Truth, though well intentioned, use scare tactics that lack support and don't give a full picture of the issue. Alun Anderson uses neither of these techniques. In his book, After the Ice, Anderson takes the reader on a journey to the Arctic. Once there, we are introduced to the Inuit peoples, shown the ice and the animals, and informed about the country politics, the fight for oil, and the future of the Arctic. Anderson provides us with a multifaceted and detailed account of climate change and its affect on the Arctic. He discusses topics that are often disregarded by news sources, such as the conflict of "owning" the Arctic, and the effect that climate change is having on Inuit peoples. He provides a more fair and balanced view of the Arctic than I have ever seen. For example, while we, the American public, always hear that oil drilling is bad, Anderson looks at the issue from all sides. Though he recognizes that drilling is detrimental environmentally and presents unreasonable risks, he also recognizes that the issue goes deeper. He discusses the benefits of oil for Inuits and how it may contribute to their survival. Anderson presents the Arctic and climate change in a balanced and educational way.
Anderson's book is an excellent account of the Arctic, but it has certain drawbacks. I sometimes felt that it was fatalistic. More than once, Anderson states that climate change has gone too far, and humans cannot do anything more to stop or reverse its effects. Though this may be true, Anderson's statements make it seem pointless to read the book, and may contribute negatively to the effort of stopping climate change. Also, the book can be too technical for the novice reader. Anderson does not always fully explain the significance of things that he discusses, such as how drilling will affect Arctic ice. The writing style, too, can seem technical and dry. However, that is understandable given the scientific or political nature of the material. He attempts to make his writing more dynamic, though he does not always succeed.
Even with its drawbacks, I feel that After the Ice is an important book that should be read by all. Rather than espousing fear or ignoring important aspects of the issue, Anderson's book provides a clear view of climate change and all the multifaceted issues that surround it. The topics discussed in this book will be relevant for years to come, making After the Ice a must-read.
on November 17, 2010
I came away from reading this book with a much better understanding of the Arctic and the problems facing the region. Before reading After the Ice by Alun Anderson, I understood the general issues facing the Arctic, but this book introduced me to the depth of the issue regarding the protection of the Arctic environment and opened my eyes to the indiscriminate effects the arctic has on the rest of the world.
The writing in this book is very straightforward and to the point. Although this makes Anderson's writing precise, it also makes his sentences full of substance and saturated with knowledge. The reading is slow but the information extracted from each page is extensive and very interesting. At times, the amount of facts and theories becomes a little overwhelming, as there is no time to process the information between one fact and the next. The periodic stories and experiences from Anderson himself, however, help to break up these streams of information and give the reader some breathing room.
The organization of this book into subsections is very helpful, as the problems in the arctic are very complex and breaking them down into single components makes it more understandable. However, the downside of this arrangement is that the relationship that each of these factors have with each other is not very clear. Having a "tie-together" section would show how shipping affects oiling, which affects animal life, which affects people, which affects borders, illustrating the inter-connective nature of the Arctic.
Anderson also does a good job including several outlooks on the theories regarding the rapid melting of the arctic, citing scientists from all around the world. This well-rounded research establishes Anderson's ethos and makes him an unbiased, credible author. Anderson does not acknowledge the fact that not everybody believes that the ice melting is not natural. Some people still believe that the melting of the icecaps is part of a geological cycle, and that human activities are not to blame. Addressing this side of the argument might have been a way to further strengthen his own stance and would have been very effective and would have made his argument touch a larger audience.
I would recommend this book to all readers, as the protection of the environment and our Earth is everybody's responsibility and all people should be well aware of the effects that their actions have on the environment.