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The Last Winter: The Scientists, Adventurers, Journeymen, and Mavericks Trying to Save the World

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One man’s “curiously thrilling joyride” of travelogue, history, and climatology, across a planet on the brink of cataclysmic transformation (Donovan Hohn). As the planet warms, winter is shrinking. In the last fifty years, the Northern Hemisphere lost a million square miles of spring snowpack and in the US alone, snow cover has been reduced by 15-30%. On average, winter has One man’s “curiously thrilling joyride” of travelogue, history, and climatology, across a planet on the brink of cataclysmic transformation (Donovan Hohn). As the planet warms, winter is shrinking. In the last fifty years, the Northern Hemisphere lost a million square miles of spring snowpack and in the US alone, snow cover has been reduced by 15-30%. On average, winter has shrunk by a month in most northern latitudes. In this deeply researched, beautifully written, and adventure-filled book, journalist Porter Fox travels along the edge of the Northern Hemisphere's snow line to track the scope of this drastic change, and how it will literally change everything—from rapid sea level rise, to fresh water scarcity for two billion people, to massive greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost, and a half dozen climate tipping points that could very well spell the end of our world. This original research is animated by four harrowing and illuminating journeys—each grounded by interviews with idiosyncratic, charismatic experts in their respective fields and Fox's own narrative of growing up on a remote island in Northern Maine. Timely, atmospheric, and expertly investigated, The Last Winter will showcase a shocking and unexpected casualty of climate change—that may well set off its own unstoppable warming cycle.


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One man’s “curiously thrilling joyride” of travelogue, history, and climatology, across a planet on the brink of cataclysmic transformation (Donovan Hohn). As the planet warms, winter is shrinking. In the last fifty years, the Northern Hemisphere lost a million square miles of spring snowpack and in the US alone, snow cover has been reduced by 15-30%. On average, winter has One man’s “curiously thrilling joyride” of travelogue, history, and climatology, across a planet on the brink of cataclysmic transformation (Donovan Hohn). As the planet warms, winter is shrinking. In the last fifty years, the Northern Hemisphere lost a million square miles of spring snowpack and in the US alone, snow cover has been reduced by 15-30%. On average, winter has shrunk by a month in most northern latitudes. In this deeply researched, beautifully written, and adventure-filled book, journalist Porter Fox travels along the edge of the Northern Hemisphere's snow line to track the scope of this drastic change, and how it will literally change everything—from rapid sea level rise, to fresh water scarcity for two billion people, to massive greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost, and a half dozen climate tipping points that could very well spell the end of our world. This original research is animated by four harrowing and illuminating journeys—each grounded by interviews with idiosyncratic, charismatic experts in their respective fields and Fox's own narrative of growing up on a remote island in Northern Maine. Timely, atmospheric, and expertly investigated, The Last Winter will showcase a shocking and unexpected casualty of climate change—that may well set off its own unstoppable warming cycle.

30 review for The Last Winter: The Scientists, Adventurers, Journeymen, and Mavericks Trying to Save the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    I had wanted to read his book Northland: A 4,000-Mile Journey Along America's Forgotten Border, but never managed to get to it, so when I saw this I grabbed it. Phenomenal book, a little memoir, adventure, and climatology. Unfortunately those who don't believe in climate change, those who need to read this the most, won't and if they did they wouldn't believe what they read. Climate change has been politicized just like Covid, vaccines and voting. I don't see how anyone could read this and not f I had wanted to read his book Northland: A 4,000-Mile Journey Along America's Forgotten Border, but never managed to get to it, so when I saw this I grabbed it. Phenomenal book, a little memoir, adventure, and climatology. Unfortunately those who don't believe in climate change, those who need to read this the most, won't and if they did they wouldn't believe what they read. Climate change has been politicized just like Covid, vaccines and voting. I don't see how anyone could read this and not feel a sense of urgency. Fox talks to geologists, climatologists, even the I hits who have seen first hand the melting ice, glaciers. He talked to other experts and specialists running various experiments to see just how fast things are occuring. From fires to glacier ice, to Winters becoming shorter and shorter, storms coming Ng stronger and more often, we are at the tipping point. The next crisis of refugees may be those escaping places that will no longer be livable.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Konet

    Did not know what to expect when I requested this but glad I did. Another great and sobering AF climatology/global warming that is presented as evidence of Earth's next extinction (PS- it is already happening). Well written and presented tastefully and concisely but with much warning. Recommended for anyone interested in global warming threats, the next extinction event and climatology. Thanks to Netgalley, Porter Fox and Little Brown & Company for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Available Did not know what to expect when I requested this but glad I did. Another great and sobering AF climatology/global warming that is presented as evidence of Earth's next extinction (PS- it is already happening). Well written and presented tastefully and concisely but with much warning. Recommended for anyone interested in global warming threats, the next extinction event and climatology. Thanks to Netgalley, Porter Fox and Little Brown & Company for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Available: 11/2/21

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrea (Hammock and Read)

    Please read this one! So good and interesting- climate change is coming and fast!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Comfort Me With Nature

    “Winter is not a weather event. It is, in part, the result of an ancient astronomical collision.” Porter Fox loves winter and skiing has been a major part of his life. He wants to ensure that his children will be able to experience winter throughout their lifetime. He’s not sure that will be possible and sets out to investigate. Fox’s book is sometimes labeled as a travel adventure. He does take us along on a journey. Each section describes his personal exploration to understand the evolving clim “Winter is not a weather event. It is, in part, the result of an ancient astronomical collision.” Porter Fox loves winter and skiing has been a major part of his life. He wants to ensure that his children will be able to experience winter throughout their lifetime. He’s not sure that will be possible and sets out to investigate. Fox’s book is sometimes labeled as a travel adventure. He does take us along on a journey. Each section describes his personal exploration to understand the evolving climate’s impact on winter. To learn what is happening and why, Porter interviews geologists, glaciologists, indigenous people, and others who have specialized knowledge or affection for snow and ice. These are not mere conversations in brightly-lit labs and cozy restaurants. Instead, Fox joins the experts in the field and participates in their studies. As Fox works with the field teams, they explain why the loss of winter will increase forest fires, flood coastlines, and will create other disasters. More impactful than reporting just the data, these teams are involved in monumental efforts to document and communicate their findings. Fox conveys their concern, their haste, and their determination. Even for someone reasonably aware of the looming climate disaster, Fox’s findings add to the distress. Despite this, the deft prose carries you forward. The writing is strong in part because of its honesty and vulnerability. He speaks a truth that we know in our hearts but somehow we cannot face. “It was pleasant on the plane. Warm. Safe-feeling, even. The sedating effect of modern convenience made it seem like everything was going to be all right, like someone would figure everything out…Maybe there would be a technological Hail Mary…Maybe the planet would mend itself…That would be nice, I thought. Then I reached for the screen and searched for a movie, a football game, a comedy, any possible distraction.” Climate change is a frequent topic in the news these days, as it should be. Unfortunately, for many audiences, the realities of climate change seem distant, both in where it is happening as well as when it will occur. Fox shows that climate change is real, it is now, and the consequences impact all of us. Whether we like winter or not, we need it and so do our children. Why you should not miss this one: * Real people, real stories, real impact * Porter Fox’s writing feels like he is speaking directly to you, almost as if he is sometimes breaking the fourth wall * This will likely become a classic in environmentalism literature Thanks to NetGalley, Little, Brown, and the author, Porter Fox, for the opportunity to read a digital copy in exchange for this review. #NetGalley #TheLastWinter @PorterFox

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael Smith

    This is an elegant, beautifully crafted and well-researched journey into our rapidly changing climate—a terrifying glimpse into our near future.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    “Warm Atlantic currents are fast melting the Arctic ice,” my grandfather said in an interview in 1960. He warned that within 150 years, Detroit could be under water, “caused by torrential rains caused by the Arctic ice melting.” In 1958, my grandfather had read an article in Harper’s called “The Coming Ice Age” by Betty Freidan. It was about the Theory of Ice Ages proposed by Columbia University professors Dr. Maurice Ewing and Dr. William L. Donn. Gramps became a climate change believer. He wrot “Warm Atlantic currents are fast melting the Arctic ice,” my grandfather said in an interview in 1960. He warned that within 150 years, Detroit could be under water, “caused by torrential rains caused by the Arctic ice melting.” In 1958, my grandfather had read an article in Harper’s called “The Coming Ice Age” by Betty Freidan. It was about the Theory of Ice Ages proposed by Columbia University professors Dr. Maurice Ewing and Dr. William L. Donn. Gramps became a climate change believer. He wrote countless letters to the men, and I have their letters back in my possession. Gramps tapped his college friend Roger Blough, then president of U. S. Steel, to grant the Lamont researchers $25,000 for their project. A letter dated August 17, 1959, from Dr. Ewing noted, “…a Mr. Vajado has returned from the north pole with the news that there is a lot of hot water coming into the Arctic, both through the Bering Straits and from the Gulf Stream.” As I was born in 1952, I essentially grew up in a family where talk about climate change and melting Arctic ice, rising sea waters, and torrential rains was table talk. Toward the end of Porter Fox’s book The Last Winter, he writes about rising sea levels and geoengineering projects including floating seawalls to block warm water currents from glaciers. The mention of the floating seawalls sent me spinning back to my grandfather’s hobby horse: he was convinced that portable dams could block warm surface sea water and prevent further melting of Arctic ice. Gramps wanted to prevent a new Ice Age. Climate science has changed since 1959, and we have had years to observe the effects of fossil fuels. Porter Fox is concerned not with glaciers taking over the Earth, but the end of glaciers and the havoc it would create. Without glacier and mountain melt, rivers dry up. If rivers dry up, transportation is curtailed, human populations are without a water source, agriculture is affected, and mass migration is inevitable. Fox traveled to the North Cascades, Alaska, the Swiss Alps, and Greenland to see how climate change and global warming is affecting these iconic ‘winter wonderlands’. Part travelogue, part memoir, part biographical sketches, and part nature writing, the book is highly entertaining. His portraits of the people he met are wonderful, and I was very sorrowful when he wrote of the death of one man. The book is also highly terrifying. More than one chapter’s end left me dejected and hopeless about the future we have fashioned for ourselves. The Earth will remain, but the future for humanity is so overwhelmingly bleak, it makes me accept that I have no grandchildren to survive it. And yet…is there yet time to change our course? At least enough to prevent the worst case scenario? I dream of the wealthy putting their money to use to save the world, funding inventions to draw out carbon monoxide from the atmosphere, or alternative energy sources, and things I can’t even imagine but someone out there surely can. Fox barely made it off Greenland in time to reenter America before the Covid-19 shut down. He and his family left the city for the mountains, enjoying the white world of ice and snow, aware that at any time, the winter he has loved could be the last. I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hallie

    It is clear to anyone who is not living under a rock that the most pressing issue of our time, and likely the most pressing issue for generations to come, is climate change. As more and more literature is dedicated to the subject, fiction and nonfiction alike, it is hard to carve out a niche with a fresh perspective for those who are not well-versed in the subject. Porter Fox has managed to do that with The Last Winter. The Last Winter is focused exclusively on the "cryosphere," the term applied It is clear to anyone who is not living under a rock that the most pressing issue of our time, and likely the most pressing issue for generations to come, is climate change. As more and more literature is dedicated to the subject, fiction and nonfiction alike, it is hard to carve out a niche with a fresh perspective for those who are not well-versed in the subject. Porter Fox has managed to do that with The Last Winter. The Last Winter is focused exclusively on the "cryosphere," the term applied to the frozen part of the Earth system: glaciers, snow, ice, etc. At times, this reads like an adventure story as the author follows the world's scientists into the cryosphere, from the Rockies, to the Alps, to Greenland. These adventures are interspersed with personal tidbits, as well as bursts of science laying out clearly the effects of climate change on the cryosphere. The fate of all humanity rests in some of the most inhospitable climates, which are vanishing at a rapid pace. Porter Fox does well to tie threads of humanity - between history, culture, arts, sports, travel, all connected to winter - and the potential impacts that will be felt as our winters become more scarce. It's hard to picture our children or children's children existing in a world without snowball fights or sledding, but this book forces you to face that head on. This was also a thoughtful love note to what might be most people's least favorite season. We might all hate snow or slush or the cold, but we might hate a world without it more. I highly recommend this book. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Wheeler

    You may wonder why I didn't give this a higher rating but I'm old enough to have seen a lot of what he describes in these pages happen before my eyes. I could relate to many of the places he visited because I have traveled quite a lot over the years. He writes about a few very interesting people who are studying climate change. I honestly believe that younger people, those who think what we are living through now is "normal," are the the very people who most need to read this book. The changes t You may wonder why I didn't give this a higher rating but I'm old enough to have seen a lot of what he describes in these pages happen before my eyes. I could relate to many of the places he visited because I have traveled quite a lot over the years. He writes about a few very interesting people who are studying climate change. I honestly believe that younger people, those who think what we are living through now is "normal," are the the very people who most need to read this book. The changes that are happening to the planet are not linear; they are happening faster than predicted and will continue to accelerate. I don't believe that individuals can change the course of global climate change. It is up to governments and corporations to commit to the changes needed and to do it right away. There is no time to lose. So I think the reason I gave it three stars is because it depressed me so much even though the message is important. We cannot recycle our way out of this crisis and as individuals we need to feel that we are making a difference for ourselves and future generations.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Climate change is a very real issue on our earth. It’s of massive concern to people who live, work, and renew their lives daily near glacial regions. There are 15 people featured in this book about climate change that include glaciologists, firefighters, professors of earth science, mountain climbers, skiers, and alpine scientists. Each person is a component to the overall picture of global warming in cold and frozen areas of Earth. Even though it’s not intended to be a travelogue, the book is en Climate change is a very real issue on our earth. It’s of massive concern to people who live, work, and renew their lives daily near glacial regions. There are 15 people featured in this book about climate change that include glaciologists, firefighters, professors of earth science, mountain climbers, skiers, and alpine scientists. Each person is a component to the overall picture of global warming in cold and frozen areas of Earth. Even though it’s not intended to be a travelogue, the book is enjoyable in that regard because it covers many beautiful areas of geological splendor. Too many of these places are being altered in our natural world.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Very well written and easily understood, this treatise describes the author's involvement with scientists investigating the effects of the arctic melt at present and what will happen if we don't make a concerted effort to reverse the trend. Read and become more aware! I requested and received a free temporary PDF from Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley. Too bad a form with TTS was not on offer. Very well written and easily understood, this treatise describes the author's involvement with scientists investigating the effects of the arctic melt at present and what will happen if we don't make a concerted effort to reverse the trend. Read and become more aware! I requested and received a free temporary PDF from Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley. Too bad a form with TTS was not on offer.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    This book does not live up to it's title. I expected much more on the climate, on warming and the disappearance of winter as we know it. The Arthur takes the reader on a travelogue, his visits to sites where melting glaziers are being studied and Greenland for a dog sled adventure, all interesting but the book provided no substantial insights into why winter is disappearing. This book does not live up to it's title. I expected much more on the climate, on warming and the disappearance of winter as we know it. The Arthur takes the reader on a travelogue, his visits to sites where melting glaziers are being studied and Greenland for a dog sled adventure, all interesting but the book provided no substantial insights into why winter is disappearing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sunita M

    What a great read! I love the way Fox intertwines the serious and straight forward facts of climate change with the personal and real stories from his own life and the lives of his characters. Instander What a great read! I love the way Fox intertwines the serious and straight forward facts of climate change with the personal and real stories from his own life and the lives of his characters. Instander

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    LJ 146 (10) October 2021

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

  15. 5 out of 5

    Annie

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Gewant

  17. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Kelemen

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  19. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Wurzel

  21. 5 out of 5

    REI

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nitin Sharma

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christy

  24. 4 out of 5

    Pop

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lee

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kyleen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chuck Penttila

  29. 4 out of 5

    Megan Stojic

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jared Webb

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