Before They're Gone
Before They're Gone
A Family's Year-Long Quest to Explore America's Most Endangered National Parks
Beacon Press (MA), Paperback, 9780807001844, 197pp.
Publication Date: April 9, 2013
A longtime backpacker, climber, and skier, Michael Lanza knows our national parks like the back of his hand. As a father, he hopes to share these special places with his two young children. But he has seen firsthand the changes wrought by the warming climate and understands what lies ahead: Alaskaâs tidewater glaciers are rapidly retreating, and the abundant sea life in their shadow departs with them. Encroaching tides threaten beloved wilderness coasts like Washingtonâs Olympic and Floridaâs Everglades. Less snowfall and hotter summers will diminish Yosemiteâs world-famous waterfalls. And it is predicted that Glacier National Parkâs 7,000-year-old glaciers will be gone in a decade.
To Lanza, it feels like the house he grew up in is being looted. Painfully aware of the ecologicalâand spiritualâcalamity that global warming will bring to our nationâs parks, Lanza sets out to show his children these wonders before they have changed forever.
He takes his nine-year-old son, Nate, and seven-year-old daughter, Alex, on an ambitious journey to see as many climate-threatened wild places as he can fit into a year: backpacking in the Grand Canyon, Glacier, the North Cascades, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and along the wild Olympic coast; sea kayaking in Alaskaâs Glacier Bay; hiking to Yosemiteâs waterfalls; rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park; cross-country skiing in Yellowstone; and canoeing in the Everglades.
Through these poignant and humorous adventures, Lanza shares the beauty of each place and shows how his children connect with nature when given âunscriptedâ time. Ultimately, he writes, this is more their story than his, for whatever comes of our changing world, they are the ones who will live in it.
"From the Hardcover edition."
âA beautifully written, moving meditation.â
âRichard Louv, author ofÂ The Nature Principle
âEncounters with bears and alligators as well as tender parent-child moments . . . make [Before Theyâre Gone] an informative, heartwarming and, at times, heart-stopping read.â
âColleen McBrinn, The Today Showâs travel blog
âThe seasonâs must-read new memoir about bringing up adventure kids in the age of climate change.â
âOutside Magazineâs Raising Rippers blog
"This is a terrific blend of adventure...and ecological forecasting (and forewarning) that aptly conveys the passion of a devoted outdoorsman, and serves as a wake-up call to the state of our planet."
âIntriguing premise; decent executionâcertainly of interest to environmentalists and other eco-minded readers.â
âMichael Lanza braids a story of family, wilderness, and climate that's at once heartwarming and terrifying. I envy his kids for the incredible year they spent exploring America's finest wild places. And I mourn that theyâand my own daughterâwill have to endure the devastating consequences of our heating planet. Lanza makes abundantly clear that our children deserve better than the legacy weâre leaving them.â
âJohn Harlin, author ofÂ The Eiger Obsession: Facing the Mountain that Killed My Father
âI grew up in a national park, worked in twelve others and have visited well over two hundred of them. Their values, for people like me, often are taken for granted. In this wonderful book, Michael Lanzaâs children learn and experience what is most important about our national parks â the necessity to leave them âunimpaired for future generationsâ â and why.â
âBill Wade, Chair, Executive Council, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees and former superintendent of Shenandoah National Park
âDelightful âŚ a fresh and engaging way to tell the climate change story.â
âLaura Helmuth, senior science editor, Smithsonian
âWilderness adventurers like Lanza are the advance scouts of global warming, bringing back firsthand testimony from pristine landscapes that powerfully corroborates what climate scientists are telling us about our changing planet. But this eyewitness report is much more than an impassioned polemic: itâs also an entertaining collection of backcountry anecdotesâsurprise encounters with grizzlies, anxious moments on glaciers and wild coastlines, jaw-dropping views from remote summitsâthat bring climate change to life in a way thatâs more palpable and persuasive than any data chart. Above all, Before Theyâre Gone is a fetching love letter to Mikeâs wife, children, and friends and to the wild places he treasures as only a hiker, climber, and explorer can.â
âJonathan Dorn, editor in chief, Backpacker