Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth
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The earth has died many times, and it always comes back looking different. In an exhilarating, surprising exploration of our planet, Craig Childs takes listeners on a firsthand journey through apocalypse, touching the truth behind the speculation. Apocalyptic Planet is a combination of science and adventure that reveals the ways in which our world is constantly moving toward its end and how we can change our place within the cycles and episodes that rule it.
In this riveting narrative, Childs makes clear that ours is not a stable planet, that it is prone to sudden, violent natural disasters and extremes of climate. Alternate futures, many not so pretty, are constantly waiting in the wings. Childs refutes the idea of an apocalyptic end to the earth and finds clues to its more inevitable end in some of the most physically challenging places on the globe. He travels from the deserts of Chile, the driest in the world, to the genetic wasteland of central Iowa to the site of the drowned land bridge of the Bering Sea, uncovering the micro-cataclysms that predict the macro: forthcoming ice ages, super-volcanoes, and the conclusion of planetary life cycles. Childs delivers a sensual feast in his descriptions of the natural world and a bounty of unequivocal science that provides us with an unprecedented understanding of our future.
colleagues discovered dominated parts of the planet for extended periods, leaving extinctions in their wake. Half of mammals weighing over eleven pounds disappeared worldwide. Maybe that is what we were seeing in this blowout, the remains of one of these ancient extinction-pushing droughts. The wind had taken the site down about twenty feet through several layers of strata, each layer marking a different event. This hadn’t been a single drought, not one last bang and then it was all over. These
clearly say something big is happening, a warming, an acceleration, an ending of a time. The glaciers of Kilimanjaro—which Ernest Hemingway once described as “wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun”—have all but turned to patches of hard-packed snow. No mincing with tape measures or comparing photographs is required to understand what is happening at this point in earth’s history. You can see it. And if any doubt remains, gravity measurements taken by satellite show
It is our reason for being. I just hoped that this time I wasn’t getting him killed. Omens were stacking up. Besides the news of the girl who slipped in and disappeared, we had heard a week earlier that half of a mostly Chinese white-water team of six had drowned not far from here when they wrapped their raft around an unseen boulder. We then got wind of an entire Russian team of eight dying while running another river off the north side of the plateau. All we heard was there had been a series
eddy line. I recognized the thrash. This cold water was more powerful than I had thought. It kept shoving her down, not a gap for her mouth or nose to break the surface. “Come on, Brandy,” Doc mumbled. “Get up … get up.” She pulled her cord and swam to the surface, gasping as the surge sucked half of her back in. “Swim for your fucking life, Brandy!” Doc yelled as he knuckled his oars to catch her. He had some drama in him, a Marlboro character with a big voice, but as far as I could see,
pulled her in. She was small, which was good because she didn’t have much kick left in her. Too early in the trip, I kept thinking. What kind of crew was this? As she keeled over coughing up water, her hands shook against the raft frame. “Underestimated that one,” she said, half in apology. She wasn’t used to being dumped so easily. The water had more muscle than she anticipated. Typical Montana boater, she was accustomed to pinball rivers, fast and loud with lots of boulders to hit. This was