As a reoccurring feature on the Sustainability Roundtable blog, we will post reviews of books related to sustainability. Interested in submitting your own review to the blog? Contact August at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Big Thaw: Ancient Carbon, Modern Science, And A Race To Save The World
By Eric Scigliano, Chris Linder, et al.
Review by C. Daetwyler
Like so many of the best reads, I came across The Big Thaw while browsing in search of something else entirely, but it was a fortunate find indeed. A book on geoscience research in Siberia might not be the first thing to grab your attention, but it is well worth checking out.
This book introduces cutting-edge research on climate change in the Arctic, focusing on the work of the Polaris Project of the Woods Hole Research Center. It deals with big issues – carbon sequestration, the loss of permafrost, biome change, and how it could affect the future of the planet. But it is, ultimately, a hopeful story, about the people working diligently to understand the environment and learn about and adapt for the future. And the story goes farther afield, to look at the impact of change in other parts of the world.
The Big Thaw, for all its science, is really a collection of very personal stories. We are introduced to the lives of individual scientists, from senior scholars to young students; learning about what brought them to Siberia, and the importance and the adventure of their work.
Additionally, this is a beautiful book. Chris Linder’s photography takes us on an adventure through the Siberian wilderness, from forest to marsh to ice-filled cave, from grand panoramas to intimate shots of single flowers. But even more, what caught my attention are the portraits of scientists at work, of the daily lives of the scientists and students exploring the world and their hands-on experiences getting literally down and dirty with climate change.
This book can be an important part of any collection. It’s a gorgeous and engaging book, and a great introduction to a not always well understood aspect of climate science. It’s also an important chance to see the diversity at work in the field, as people from all walks of life work together to understand this fragile environment, and hope for the future.
Book Discussion Questions:
- The book talks extensively about the impact of climate change not just in the Arctic, but around the world. What changes have you seen in your community?
- There are profiles of a number of individual scientists and students in the book. Did any strike you as particularly interesting? Who spoke to your own experiences?
- If you had an opportunity to go to Siberia to work with the scientists, would you do it? Why or why not?
- What photos stood out for you? Do you feel like looking at photos gave you a better sense of connection with the story?
- What can you do as a “library scientist” to combat climate change?