From Publishers Weekly
The itinerary of this winning pilgrimage is well-chosen to illustrate contemporary environmental crises. Mitchell, an environmental journalist at the Toronto Globe and Mail,
visits some familiar disaster areas, including the island of Madagascar, whose deforestation by a populace hungry for land and firewood is wiping out a unique ecosystem; the dying Jordanian oasis of Azraq, whose aquifer has been drained to support development in Amman; and the Canadian High Arctic, where the native Inuvialuit people see apocalyptic portents in the warming of winters and thinning of sea ice. Mitchell also explores more hopeful locales, like Suriname, in South America, which has preserved 90% of its rainforest, and Iceland, which is using geothermal energy to wean itself off of fossil fuels and onto a hydrogen economy. Mitchell dusts her lucid, if sketchy, rundown of environmental issues with a sprinkling of ecotourist travelogue, as she visits Amazonian religious sites and goes scuba diving off the Galápagos Islands. She tries to tie it all together with a garbled interpretation of Darwinian evolution, writing that species "are programmed to continue to adapt... even if it means dying out." Extinction is not quite what Darwin meant by adaptation, but there's no doubt the great naturalist would be appalled by the panorama of ecological havoc described by Mitchell. (May 18)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mitchell, earth sciences reporter for the Globe and Mail,
agrees with some environmental theorists that the sixth mass extinction of our planet is well under way. Based on a conservation strategy (similar to the medical model of triage) proposed by Norman Myers and other theorists, Mitchell visits and writes about hotspots that are most in danger. She travels, therefore, to Madagascar, looking for lemurs in a seriously deforested nation, and to Jordan, where the quarter-million-year-old Azraq Oasis is being depleted by water-hungry humans. Mitchell also visits the Banks Islands in the Arctic Circle, where there's been a sharp shift in the ecosystem. There are success stories, including Suriname, for one (which has retained 90 percent of its forest cover), and Iceland, land of "kinetic steam." Rounding out the collection are insightful essays about Charles Darwin and On the Origin of the Species,
combined with a trip to the modern-day Galapagos. Well written and inspiring, these essays should help awaken environmental awareness. Rebecca MakselCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved