Henry Pollack is an exceptional scientist. He is part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former vice president Al Gore. To my delight, he is also a talented writer.
It's been a long while since I read a science book, and given my ongoing interest in climate change and green living, A World Without Ice seemed like the book tour for me to be a part of. It usually takes me a good while to read non-fiction offerings, but because of a busy work schedule, I couldn't really dig into this book until Friday night. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to finish, but I actually gulped it down with no problem--a testament to Pollack's careful and clever writing.
This book is exactly what it says. It's a detailed look at the importance of ice on Earth. I expected the entire book to focus on global warming and climate change, but it took until approximately page 100 to really get to that. Pollack spends a great deal of time chronicling various voyages to the Arctic and Antarctic to create a contrast between the past and today's warming trends and the continual disappearance of ice. These historical bits were actually some of my very favorite parts of the book as I always enjoy tales of explorers and seafarers charting new courses.
Once the environmental discussion really kicked up in Chapter 4: Warming Up, I was impressed with Pollack's combination of thorough detail and easy-to-follow descriptions of scientific processes. It's a fine line to walk, but he did it beautifully throughout the book. I felt as if I learned a lot at my level of understanding without having a scientist write "down" to me. This was especially apparent when Pollack set up a variety of points that global warming skeptics use to attack or mislead the public to believe that global warming and the disappearance of ice are myths. He systematically attacks each of these arguments with convincing science and common sense. It's good, for a believer like me who is genuinely concerned about these issues, to have a step-by-step explanation of how and why the Earth is warming and ice is receding in direct response to skeptics.
I always have my doubts when I run across seemingly obscure non-fiction books. Whole tomes about salt, for instance, or the color yellow. There was a moment, before I started reading, that I doubted anyone could pull off a whole book about ice, but Henry Pollack does more than pull it off--he excels at it. If you're at all interested in science, the environment, animals, nature, or geopolitics, this is a great book to try.
You can learn more at http://www.worldwithoutice.com
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the book and the opportunity to join this tour.