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Fragile Earth: Views of a Changing World Hardcover – October 3, 2006

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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About the Author

Sir Ranulph Fiennes is the first man to have reached both poles by surface travel and the first to have crossed the Antarctic Continent unsupported. He is the only person in the world to have been awarded two clasps to the Polar Medal for both the Antarctic and Arctic regions. Fiennes also led the first polar circumnavigation of the earth. In 1993 Her Majesty the Queen awarded Fiennes the Order of the British Empire (OBE) because, on the way to breaking these historic records, he has raised over twenty millions dollars for charity. In 2003 he ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents in aid of the Heart Foundation. In 2009 he became the oldest Briton to reach the summit of Everest.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061137316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061137310
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 10.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Shaver on November 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a book for those interested in the environment, business, photography or science. I teach business courses to adults. This book demonstrates the awesome power of paired photos to convey important messages about dramatic changes over a very short period of time. This book is worth your investment of time and money. I am grateful to the publisher for this great work. bshaver@bus.wisc.edu
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Format: Hardcover
Change is what life is all about! The world around us is physically changing all the time; climate, sea level, landscapes, the Earth it self and, yes, our cities too. This marvelous coffee-table book documents many of those changes with historic and modern photos as well as satellite images. There is no one author for Fragile Earth, instead we have a foreword by renowned explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and a series of essays by seven different journalist some of whom you may or may not recognize. There are also many maps and charts to help clarify some of the issues. The book is broken up into 9 chapters under various headings; Restless Earth, Big Thaw and Water's Power are three examples. Each chapter is also broken to several sub-categories that cover a wide range of subjects. You will see stunning photos of volcanoes, shrinking glaciers, advancing deserts, acts of terrorism and urban sprawl as well a deforestation and poor farming practices resulting in degraded landscapes. Urban growth, is also documented, such as the incredible changes to Hong Kong harbor from 1920 to the present day. One series of photos of a New Zealand glacier from 1951 through 1964 show its slow retreat till it's almost out of sight. But then, in a present day shot, we see the glacier now advancing back to about its 1956 point. So while change can be bad on a global scale it can also be, locally, good in some parts of the world. Not all of these changes are destructive. Some, like volcanos, create new land and new havens for life such as Surtsay, Iceland. Advancing sand dunes can threaten large urban cities like Beijing, China; and the extraordinary steps taken by the government to protect the city, the local people and their homes.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I was very excited to get this book because I got it at a bargain price at a local book store. Why it was sold so cheaply, I can't imagine, since it wasn't labeled as a used book and it was in excellent condition. Perhaps it wasn't selling because my community is very conservative and many don't believe in such things as anthropogenic global warming. But this book is not limited to proving GW, but shows the disastrous effects of hurricanes and tsunamis and the overflow of rivers around the world.

This is a great book for those who want to see comparative photos showing just how humanity is changing the earth in a variety of ways, mostly negative in character. The opinion pieces at the end gave us a rounded view of a possible future, but I have to admit I got a bit hysterical when I read the economists' prediction of the future, at least as told by Bjorn Lomsburg, who should have known better. His piece belittled the reports of climatologists about potential disasters ahead of us and simply attributed the numerous casualties of hurricanes and volcanoes and flooding to poverty. Thus, his prediction for the future, presumably based on the Copenhagen Consensus Project, is of a better world, with only such things as AIDS to worry about, though I'm not belittling the tragedies that viral infection has caused. I laughed because who in their right mind is going to have their concerns for the planet eased by the narrow predictions of social scientists, when the experts in climatology and physics seem to feel growing anxiety about the future? Next thing we might have a bevy of Psychology experts with doctorates telling us GW is a crock.

But this didn't detract from the quality of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Anybody left harbouring doubts about the reality of climate change will be relieved of them by this book. The images of how glaciers are disappearing, the sea rising to threaten coastal communities or the ravages of intense storms are a jarring sight. The Collins team has performed an outstanding service in compiling such a span of places and conditions in demonstrating what is happening and is likely to occur in our future. With added commentary from a selected group of those interested in environment issues, this is a valuable visual package.

The book is comprised of eight chapters of categorised imagery and one of comment on future conditions. Opening with such natural phenomena as earthquakes, tsunamis and cyclones and tornadoes, the images of human activity follow. Although the natural forces are the stuff of The Weather Channel, there are some human-created conditions that will be novel to many. Dutch land reclamation from the sea was depicted in our childhood reading, but the images of a set of man-made islands off the coast of Dubai may be something of a jolt. Looking like some flower or a bizarre insect, they are known as the "Palm Islands" for their resemblance to that plant.

Water, in one of its many forms, takes up a significant portion of the book. Glaciers may seem remote and of little value except for tourism, but some cities, such as Lima, Peru, rely on glaciers as a water source. The loss of glaciers means far more than the loss of a city's supply. As the Polar, Greenland and Canadian snow and ice melt away in rising temperatures, lowland civilisations are threatened with inundation.
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