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Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic Paperback – January 12, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0802142597 ISBN-10: 0802142591

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (January 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802142591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802142597
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Her findings are dismaying, yet Silent Snow is not a dismal read. Indeed, Cone may as well be commenting on her own book when describing the tale of the Arctic Paradox as an 'environmental whodunit' having 'all the elementals of an engrossing novel.' ... Would that everyone read Silent Snow and then act on it."

Customer Reviews

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By Jimmy on November 30, 2014
Format: Paperback
The Contamination of the North
Generally, when people think of the North Pole they think of a beautiful and clean environment, far away from factories and pollution. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Marla Cone, the author of Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic claims the Arctic Circle to be one of the most contaminated places on Earth. This is a rather heavy claim, but one backed up by evidence. The most prominent being that enormous quantities of Polychlorinated Biphenyls are being found in the Arctic Circle. Throughout her book she explains the process of PCB starting in factories, and how it ends up in humans in the North Pole.
So what exactly are Polychlorinated Biphenyls anyway? Marla Cone explains PCB’s in a rather easy way to understand. PCB is a synthetic chemical created in the late 1800’s. In the early 1920’s it started to become mainstream for its convenient uses. Some products PCB’s would be in include fire retardant materials, paints, adhesives, and waterproofing substances. With the increase in luxury and in a society increasingly turning into a convenience society, the uses for PCB grew, and the amount of PCB’s being put into the atmosphere exponentially increased as well. Normally, this wouldn’t be such a bad thing but because PCB’s are synthetic chemicals, they take a very long time to break down in the environment. Marla Cone states the primary way PCB’s are broken down in the environment is by soil and sediment. This is because of the many microorganisms that live within the soil.
How exactly does PCB being produced in industrialized countries end way up in the North Pole? According to Marla Cone, it’s because of ocean and wind currents. Wind currents stem from the difference of pressure throughout the world.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this because Sara Wheeler recommended it in her fascinating book "Magnetic North." It has themes and stories in common with Wheeler, with Cone adding a more "scientific" tack.. Note that the title purposely calls to mind Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring." The way that industries, especially American and Russian, contaminate the environment and inhabitants of the "pristine" Arctic lands, and seas, is depressing and alarming. Winds and currents bring a steady flow of PCB's etc from, for example, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region, one of the world's most polluted. (Remember when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was a fire hazard?) Despite occasional numbers and statistics, this book is too good to pass up....
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By Winter Raven on December 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the Silent Spring for the arctic and a must read for anyone interested in the Arctic or environmental issues. I didn't appreciate some of the description of Barrow, Alaska and that made me question some of the accuracy of the entire book. Example, Marla Cone states that no one goes hungry in Barrow. Whaling is a communal activity but I hardly think that is true. On nearly the same paragraph, the author then describes Barrow as an ugly wasteland (wait a minute - weren't you just saying it was perfect). Anyway, ignoring some of the personal descriptors, I would recommend this book as an introduction to Arctic climate issues.
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By Leah on December 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
Cone lets the reader develop feelings of responsibility and conviction for the poisoning of the arctic in the powerful way of telling stories of the Inuit and their culture while explaining the tragic and toxic intersection between their culture and ours. She keeps the reader interested by choosing to alternate between personal experience, stories told by native people of the arctic, journeys of the scientists who discovered that the arctic was contaminated and the levels of contamination in the people and animals, and facts. The book is extremely informational, but it kept me interested and engaged the whole way through. Cone causes the reader to become emotionally involved throughout the book by telling personal stories of visiting the arctic and interacting with its’ inhabitants. After I became emotionally attached to the people, land, and animals, Cone described the effects that my lifestyle, as well as all of the urban inhabitants lifestyles, has on the people of the arctic. This gave me a sense of responsibility and conviction to the pollution and the health effects it has on the children and animals.
I agree with Cone, the scientists, and organizations featured in the book and that the pollution we indirectly contaminate the arctic with is a social injustice. I believe that the industrialized world is at fault and is responsible for the negative health effects that our lifestyle causes the arctic people and their land. I think the weight of the harm we are causing them is absolutely on or shoulders and I agree that we are violating their culture by pollution their food, people, and land. This book is an eye opener, a truly interesting and factual account for the effects of our consumer-driven economy.
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