Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid by Thor Hanson


4 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

As John Muir wrote: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.’ he was not the first to notice this either, Alexander von Humboldt is one of those first credited with the idea of an ecosystem being a vastly interconnected and interdependent species.

He discovered this when climbing the inactive volcano Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador which went from tropical rainforest to a snow-topped mountain. He went from the equator to the north pole in one go and his eyes were opened to the diversity that existed in this one place. But what happens when these finely balanced ecosystems are changed?

In this book, Thor Hanson looks at the way that climate change is forcing the world’s flora and fauna to adapt. Some can cope where they are, but the consensus has been that species will move further north to remain in their zone as temperatures rise, but it is much more complicated than that. Life on this planet can cope with slow change, but rapid change, as has happened in the past and is happening now is forcing evolution at an unprecedented rate.

Hanson takes us through numerous examples. As well as the two mentioned in the title, hurricane lizards and plastic squid I learnt about bears that are changing their diets from salmon to berries which are having wider effects on the health of the forests alongside the rivers too and plants that are relying on new species to help them migrate. He travels all over the world finding these stories of failures and successes and at times it makes for grim reading.

Compared to a lot of environmental books that can be a bit doom and gloom, this took a very different view. Using lots of examples he looks a the way that a variety of flora and fauna are adapting to the spectre that is climate change. And they are adapting much faster than we are. I have read a couple of his other books before and I think that this is the best of his that I have read so far. The writing is clear and concise and a warning about what is happening on our only planet.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    This does sound interesting and maybe a bit less dark and panic-inducing than some of them (I have too many worries about friends etc. to face the really gloomy stuff at the moment).

    • Paul

      It is an interesting take on the very gloomy stuff!

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