Field Guide to the Everending Earth
Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780307379092, 368pp.
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
The earth has died many times, and it always comes back looking different. In an exhilarating, surprising exploration of our planet, Craig Childs takes readers on a firsthand journey through apocalypse, touching the truth behind the speculation. Apocalyptic Planet is a combination of science and adventure that reveals the ways in which our world is constantly moving toward its end and how we can change our place within the cycles and episodes that rule it.
In this riveting narrative, Childs makes clear that ours is not a stable planet, that it is prone to sudden, violent natural disasters and extremes of climate. Alternate futures, many not so pretty, are constantly waiting in the wings. Childs refutes the idea of an apocalyptic end to the earth and finds clues to its more inevitable end in some of the most physically challenging places on the globe. He travels from the deserts of Chile, the driest in the world, to the genetic wasteland of central Iowa to the site of the drowned land bridge of the Bering Sea, uncovering the micro-cataclysms that predict the macro: forthcoming ice ages, super-volcanoes, and the conclusion of planetary life cycles. Childs delivers a sensual feast in his descriptions of the natural world and a bounty of unequivocal science that provides us with an unprecedented understanding of our future.
Craig Childs is a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Men’s Journal, Outside, The Sun, and Orion. Awards he has won include the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, the Rowell Award for the Art of Adventure, the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award, and, for his body of work, the 2003 Spirit of the West Award.
"An elegant and absorbing account of just how violently the earth can change—this is a very good book to read as we start to watch global warming provide a new shock on this scale."
—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
“A mesmerizing and provocative look at our ever-changing, “everending” planet . . . Childs’s lively writing reveals awesome, otherworldy landscapes.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Childs aims to experience the apocalypse first hand…Gripping descriptions of deteriorating ecosystems that may soon require less travel and perhaps none at all for readers to experience.” –Kirkus
“What makes Apocalyptic Planet so engrossing, despite its dark subject, is Childs’s style. He is the best science writer I’ve come across in years, capable of not just capturing an image but doing it in a way that stays with you long afterward…Childs is the central character in his story, and his observations provide entertaining context for the calamities he contemplates across the globe.” –Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post
“Craig Childs takes an Edward Abbey-esque journey across our rapidly changing globe. Apocalyptic Planet is lyrical, informative, and full of surprises.”
Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe
“It is impossible to read Craig Childs and see the world in the same way again.”
—Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish
“Childs blends climate science, natural history, literary references, and personal reflections to create an immensely evocative sense of time and place…an engaging exploration of the land beneath us…intriguing.” –Booklist
“Apocalyptic Planet looks at our ever-changing world to find refreshing and eye-popping insights in the most unlikely places…Craig Childs walking on the desert or climbing a mountain is like a gourmand at a sumptuous feast: the sensual delight with which he relishes the world around him gives the rest of us a vicarious thrill, even hunger. You just want to turn over that rock he sees, move dust to expose an ancient artifact, or scale the cave wall in front of him. Childs delights in the details of the rock, sand, and ice, and in them he finds stories as large as the planet itself. In his hands, the main casualty of apocalypse is our familiar view of Earth: it is impossible to read Childs and see the world in the same way again.” –Neil Shubin, Amazon.com guest review
“Scientific, yet personal and passionate, Apocalyptic Planet will excite readers…An illuminating look at several possible scenarios for the end of the world as we know it.” –Shelf Awareness
“Childs' Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth is a rip-roaring, gorgeously written look at the deep nature of the death of the planet by ice, fire, heat, species extinction — and these are just some of the ends that have already come to pass. Part travelogue, part thought-experiment, a good dose of craziness with regards to going into very dangerous places without preparation, 'Apocalyptic Planet' is a planet-smashing success in its ability to annihilate your cozy notions of stability.” –Bookotron
“Childs’s work has a way of elevating and astounding his listeners… His writing is at once sensual and scientific.” –Telluride Inside podcase
“Compulsively readable.” –Flagstaff Live
“Childs’ new book is like no other you’ll ever read about the ‘end of the world’…Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth is a fantastic read in the tradition of great popular science books. It pulls off the near impossible, placating our concerns about the end of life as we know it — which won’t be nearly as dramatic as we think, turns out — while also rousing us from complacent slumber.” –Salt Lake Tribune
“Apocalyptic Planet deals with a kind of brutal truth that is almost never talked about, in politics, culture or even much in science—that the Earth's history is a story of huge, violent natural disasters and extremes in climactic conditions, and that there's no reason to believe that the future will be any different.” –Santa Cruz Sentinel
“Apocalyptic Planet [is] quite a trip.”—Robert Krulwich
“In chapters packed with vivid descriptions and lyrical language, Childs tells tales not merely of droughts and ice ages, but of globe-swallowing deserts and planet-freezing cold…this thoroughly enjoyable book is a fascinating travelogue of an excitable, seething and perilous planet where catastrophes are frequent, at least when measured on a geological timescale.” –Science News
“In chapters packed with vivid descriptions and lyrical language, Childs tells tales not merely of droughts and ice ages, but of globe-swallowing deserts and planet-freezing cold spells … this thoroughly enjoyable book is a fascinating travelog of an excitable, seething and perilous planet where catastrophes are frequent, at least when measured on a geological timescale. “ –Science News
“Apocalyptic Planet is transformative but never boring. Craig Childs takes us places we’d never go in our right minds. But afterward, we will never again regard our spaceship Earth in the same parochial light... he paints compelling pictures of what has happened in the past to destroy civilizations and life on land and sea. Then he forecasts what might occur in the future. Besides recounting his expeditions including a perilous, heart-pounding run down a swollen Tibetan river, Childs leavens his captivating chronicle with impish humor, scientific opinions, eco-studies, statistics and facts.” –Austin American Statesman
Praise for Craig Childs
“Craig Childs is a master . . . He reminds us why we fell in love with the wild in the first place.”
“Childs’s own feats of asceticism are nothing if not awe-inspiring: he’s a modern-day desert father.”
—The New York Times Book Review