Our planet is constantly changing. The energy that it receives from the sun drives the weather systems across the globe and feeds the plants that keep the oxygen cycle going. The internal processes of plate tectonics and erosion mean that the landscapes are constantly changing too. But now there is an extra factor too, our love of fossil fuels is changing the atmosphere in ways that we cannot fully understand, though the trends are there if you care enough to look. The data on all these changes is immense, so Gaia Vince, editor at Nature, decided the best way to understand the immensity of the changes happening would be to go and see it herself.
Her travels takes her to the rooftop of the world to see artificial glaciers being created, mountains being painted white to increase the albedo and looks at the positive and negative effects of dams. She tracks across deserts, climbs mountains, tiptoes through sewage and walks on one man’s solution to the rising sea levels; floating islands and speaks to the head of a country that is going to disappear under the waves in the next few years.
It is an interesting book on the way that we have changed the planet so far and the long-term implications for dramatic change. As the world changes in dramatic ways, she sees human ingenuity in solving the problems that are being raised as the climate changes. By going to these places herself and seeing the problems first hand, she gets a better overall view of the state of the globe and thankfully does not hold back with her opinions as to what is happening. Even though it is four years since it was published, it is still a prescient book, but it would be nice to have a revised edition soon. The only downside for me was the epilogue; it was a very speculative and even hopeful vision of our world in 2100, a planet that had changed in so many ways; I can’t imagine that it would be as comfortable as that.