Laki is Iceland’s largest volcano. Its eruption in 1783 is one of history’s great, untold natural disasters. Spewing out sun-blocking ash and then a poisonous fog for eight long months, the effects of the eruption lingered across the world for years. It caused the deaths of people as far away as the Nile and created catastrophic conditions throughout Europe.
Island on Fire is the story not only of a single eruption but the people whose lives it changed, the dawn of modern volcanology, as well as the history—and potential—of other super-volcanoes like Laki around the world. And perhaps most pertinently, in the wake of the eruption of another Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, which closed European air space in 2010, acclaimed science writers Witze and Kanipe look at what might transpire should Laki erupt again in our lifetime.
Alexandra Witze is an award-winning science journalist and correspondent for the journal Nature. Her reporting has taken her from the North Pole (to report on climate change) to the jungles of Guatemala (to cover Maya archaeology) to China's quake-ravaged Sichuan province. Island on Fire is her first book and she lives in Boulder, CO.
Jeff Kanipe is an experienced science writer and the author of a number of books on astronomy including Chasing Hubble’s Shadows (Hill & Wang, 2006) and The Cosmic Connection (Prometheus, 2008). He has an asteroid (84447 Jeffkanipe) named after him.
The quest for Hubble's "shadows"—those unimaginably distant, wispy traces of stars and galaxies that formed within the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang—takes us back, in effect, to the beginning of time as we are able to perceive it, when the first discrete stellar objects appeared out of what has lately come to be known as the "cosmic dark age." The information that is being gleaned from these dim sources—chiefly with the aid of Hubble's namesake, the Hubble Space Telescope—promises to yield clues to many cosmic puzzles, including the nature of the mysterious "dark energy" that is now believed to pervade all of space.
Here, Gillen D’Arcy Wood traces Tambora’s global and historical reach: how the volcano’s three-year climate change regime initiated the first worldwide cholera pandemic, expanded opium markets in China, and plunged the United States into its first economic depression. Bringing the history of this planetary emergency to life, Tambora sheds light on the fragile interdependence of climate and human societies to offer a cautionary tale about the potential tragic impacts of drastic climate change in our own century.
In The End of Plenty, award-winning environmental journalist Joel K. Bourne Jr. puts our fight against devastating world hunger in dramatic perspective. He travels the globe to introduce a new generation of farmers and scientists on the front lines of the next green revolution. He visits corporate farmers trying to restore Ukraine as Europe's breadbasket, a Canadian aquaculturist, the agronomist behind the world's largest organic sugarcane plantation, and many other extraordinary farmers, large and small, who are racing to stave off catastrophe as climate change disrupts food production worldwide.
A Financial Times Best Book of the Year and a Finalist for the PEN / E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.
On the afternoon of August 20, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, whipping the hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor into a roaring inferno that jumped from treetop to ridge as it raged, destroying towns and timber in the blink of an eye. Forest rangers had assembled nearly ten thousand men to fight the fires, but no living person had seen anything like those flames, and neither the rangers nor anyone else knew how to subdue them. Egan recreates the struggles of the overmatched rangers against the implacable fire with unstoppable dramatic force, and the larger story of outsized president Teddy Roosevelt and his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot, that follows is equally resonant. Pioneering the notion of conservation, Roosevelt and Pinchot did nothing less than create the idea of public land as our national treasure, owned by every citizen. Even as TR's national forests were smoldering they were saved: The heroism shown by his rangers turned public opinion permanently in favor of the forests, though it changed the mission of the forest service in ways we can still witness today.
This e-book includes a sample chapter of SHORT NIGHTS OF THE SHADOW CATCHER.