Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World's Environmental Hotspots

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9781552635865: Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World's Environmental Hotspots

"Dancing at the Dead Sea is a powerful narrative on the critically important topic of the world`s environmental hotspots. This is not a pessimistic tirade, but instead a factual commentary that will convince many, written by a gifted writer with an independent mind. I recommend this book without reservation." ?Richard Leakey Alanna Mitchell, winner of the Global Reuters IUCN media award for excellence in environmental reporting, embarks on an incredible worldwide cultural and environmental odyssey, zeroing in on environmental hotspots and examines how we can live, even flourish, without destroying the planet. One hundred and fifty years after the publication of The Origin of Species, Mitchell retraces the development of evolutionary theory, grappling with Richard Leakey`s contention that the extinction of the human species is well under way. How and why are we human beings shortening our time on Earth? Travelling to the ?last living Eden,? Madagascar, Mitchell is witness to the destruction of all but 10 percent of the original forest, not due to industrial activity but woodcutting by a primitive society still dependent on fire as its main energy resource. She then moves on to the badlands of Alberta, where she draws on the theory of world-famous paleontologist Philip Currie and the extinction of dinosaurs to gain insight on humanity?s own impending suicide. Travel to the Azraq Oasis in Jordan, the meeting place of Africa, Asia and Europe, the mythical Galapagos Islands, seemingly unspoiled, but not immune to degradation, the far north and the Arctic desert of Banks Island, one of the first places on Earth where climate change with global impact is visible. Like the work of Wade Davis or books such as Krakatoa by Simon Winchester and Four Wings and a Prayer by Sue Halpern, Dancing at the Dead Sea intertwines scientific theory with travel adventure and history, creating a dramatic, fresh narrative voice examining not the origin, but the ultimate fate of the human species. (April 2004)

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About the Author:


ALANNA MITCHELL is the internationally recognized Senior Features writer at The Globe and Mail. In 2000 and 2001, the World Conservation Union cited Mitchell’s work as the best environmental reporting in North America and Oceania. In 2000, Mitchell was named the best environmental reporter in the world by the World Conservation Union and the Reuters Foundation, which led to a term of study at Oxford University where she wrote a thesis on Darwin and the modern ecological crises—the groundwork for Dancing at the Dead Sea. Alanna Mitchell lives with her two children in Toronto.

From Publishers Weekly:

The itinerary of this winning pilgrimage is well-chosen to illustrate contemporary environmental crises. Mitchell, an environmental journalist at the Toronto Globe and Mail, visits some familiar disaster areas, including the island of Madagascar, whose deforestation by a populace hungry for land and firewood is wiping out a unique ecosystem; the dying Jordanian oasis of Azraq, whose aquifer has been drained to support development in Amman; and the Canadian High Arctic, where the native Inuvialuit people see apocalyptic portents in the warming of winters and thinning of sea ice. Mitchell also explores more hopeful locales, like Suriname, in South America, which has preserved 90% of its rainforest, and Iceland, which is using geothermal energy to wean itself off of fossil fuels and onto a hydrogen economy. Mitchell dusts her lucid, if sketchy, rundown of environmental issues with a sprinkling of ecotourist travelogue, as she visits Amazonian religious sites and goes scuba diving off the Galápagos Islands. She tries to tie it all together with a garbled interpretation of Darwinian evolution, writing that species "are programmed to continue to adapt... even if it means dying out." Extinction is not quite what Darwin meant by adaptation, but there's no doubt the great naturalist would be appalled by the panorama of ecological havoc described by Mitchell. (May 18)
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Alanna Mitchell
Published by Key Porter Books (2004)
ISBN 10: 1552635864 ISBN 13: 9781552635865
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