The End of Ice, by Dahr Jamail

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The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption
By Dahr Jamail

Book Review by Carolyn Treadway

From the incredible opening sentences–which describe the author dangling in a glacial crevasse with his life at risk—to the final evocative sentence of the text, The End of Ice is a gripping and powerful book. Reading it, I was spell bound. Even though I did not want to know all the terrifying descriptions of what is happening to Earth, our only home, I could not close this book. At times I stopped to feel my emotions; nonetheless I kept on reading. All the while I marveled at Dahr Jamail’s courage, clarity, tenacity, stamina, and love that allowed him to “sustain his gaze”, do research across the planet, and bring back his experiences and wisdom to help us learn so many truths that we need to know.

This is a thoroughly researched, exceptionally informative book. It’s all there: a staggering amount of detailed and very specific information about what is happening to our planet as ice, snow, and glaciers melt; as sea levels rise and oceans grow warmer and more acidic; as our forests are stressed and dying from heat, drought, and insects; as the Amazon rainforest increasingly emits (rather than sequesters) C02; as permafrost melt releases vast quantities of methane; as the loss of biodiversity accelerates, and so on and on.

Amazingly, Dahr explains all these complex topics in very understandable terms. Through his stories, he takes us with him as he travels to Alaska, the Pribilof Islands, Palau, Guam, Australia, the Amazon, Greenland, and across the USA.  In these places (and others), he meets with people who live there and with top scientists who are there doing research. He joins them to learn firsthand, whether on high mountains observing glaciers or under the sea examining coral reefs. He tells their stories as well as the specific information they know. Thus we learn myriad details of climate disruption in a very personal and impactful way.

If you want data and citations of sources, you will find meticulous documentation in the book’s 260 footnotes. You will also find one of Dahr’s photos at the beginning of each of the nine chapters.

Seamlessly woven into the massive scientific information of this book, Dahr shares his own emotional and spiritual journey as he sees with his own eyes the evidence of climate disruption across our planet. It is no easy task to “sustain the gaze” at changes that could take the human race into extinction. Nor to handle the profound emotions that are evoked as this reality unfolds.

Dahr offers us his lifelong intimate connection with the mountains he so loves, his grief for what is happening to his beloved Earth, and his passion to care for it.

I deeply respect what Dahr has experienced and then shared so that we can learn. In  showing us how he finds his way, he invites to find our own. Disrespect for nature and our part in it is leading us to our own destruction. In the natural world, everything is connected to everything else. Our intimate connection with nature is crucial to our noticing these connections—to noticing what actually is happening across the planet–and caring enough to act on its behalf.  Dahr offers us his lifelong intimate connection with the mountains he so loves, his grief for what is happening to his beloved Earth, and his passion to care for it. In doing so, he evokes our own deep connections, grief, and passion—which we can use on behalf of planet Earth.

The book’s final chapter is a gem. Addressing both presence and purpose, Dahr models living life profoundly while witnessing biosphere collapse and an uncertain future. Many inspiring and surprising paragraphs deserve quotation, but I will leave readers to discover for themselves what they find most meaningful. The book ends with a crucial question for us all.

The End of Ice is a hugely informative and important book for these times. Read it, share it, digest it, and let it help guide your future.

The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption
By Dahr Jamail
ISBN 978-1-62097-234-2
New Press, New York, 2019

Dahr Jamail is an investigative journalist who has reported from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. He is now focusing on anthropogenic climate disruption and the environment. He has studied and consulted with Joanna Macy.

Dahr’s stories have been published with Truthout, Inter Press Service, Tom Dispatch, The Guardian, Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, The Huffington Post, The Nation, and The Independent, among others. He has reported for Democracy Now! and Al-Jazeera, and has appeared on the BBC, NPR, among other stations.  He has received numerous awards, including the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, The Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and five Project Censored awards.

Carolyn Wilbur Treadway is a psychotherapist, family therapist, pastoral counselor, social worker and life coach, now retired after almost 60 years of facilitating change and growth in people’s lives.  She “speaks for Earth” however she can—as a climate leader and mentor (trained by Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project since 2007), anti-nuclear activist, program planner and presenter, writer, and photographer. Since the mid-1980s she has been part of the Work That Reconnects. With her husband Roy, she lives in Lacey, Washington. Their three children and four young grandchildren constantly fuel her motivation to preserve our precious Earth. Contact her at [email protected].


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