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Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0802142597
ISBN-10: 0802142591
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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."

About the Author

Marla Cone is one of the nation's premier environmental journalists. She has nineteen years of experience covering environmental issues, including fifteen years at the Los Angeles Times. Cone was a teaching fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1999 and again in 2002. She has twice won a national award for environmental reporting.
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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: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #900,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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: Paperback
The book Silent Snow by Marla Cone is really interesting. She chooses a topic that is usually neglected and taken for granted by people and explains it really well. She explains every possible answer for every possible question asked by people related to the topic. The notion of highly toxic environment in North Pole is usually neglected because the stigma that North Pole has a really pure and clean environment sticks to many people in other parts of the world. Additionally, people often just take it for granted the thing that they do every day.
The book makes people think about the interrelation that happens in the world, that every action that people take in a certain place can cause something to people in other places both in the short term and long term. Thus, the book intrigues people to really think about what they do and what will be the impact of their actions, because what people think as a small chemical residue can cause a global impact and can become toxic in a broader scope.
The conclusion of the book is well written. Even though she explains that many new things can happen in the future, that many “new” types of toxic chemicals might arise in the future, as long as everyone does what they can do and use all of the knowledge that they possess, there is still a chance for changes. There is still hope for the future.
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Format: Paperback
Marla Cone perfectly masters the balance between science and humanity in Silent Snow. Where most books strive to merely provide the scientific facts surrounding contaminants, Silent Snow provides these facts while also analyzing the effects of these contaminants on the native people and the other Arctic animals and plants. Cone accomplishes giving a scientific subject a human face. She interviews many Inuit people as well as scientists to accomplish this feat and does it masterfully. These interviews and interactions come down to the reader through a series of stories from different regions of the Arctic. These areas include the Faroe Islands, northern Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, Svalbard, northern Canada, and Greenland.
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