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Before They're Gone: A Family's Year-Long Quest to Explore America's Most Endangered National Parksby Michael Lanza
Synopses & Reviews
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: Alaska’s tidewater glaciers are rapidly retreating, and the abundant sea life in their shadow departs with them. Encroaching tides threaten beloved wilderness coasts like Washington’s Olympic and Florida’s Everglades. Less snowfall and hotter summers will diminish Yosemite’s world-famous waterfalls. And it is predicted that Glacier National Park’s 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 ecological—and spiritual—calamity that global warming will bring to our nation’s 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 Alaska’s Glacier Bay; hiking to Yosemite’s 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 “unscripted” 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.
"Worried that climate change might soon destroy many of America's most beautiful places, Lanza, the northwest editor for Backpacker magazine, embarks with his wife and two kids, nine-year-old Nate and seven-year-old Alex, to visit 'as many climate-threatened U.S. national parks as could cram into a year.' Their journeys take them from Alaska's Glacier Bay to Florida's Everglades, and to many breathtaking locales in between. Blending anecdotes and ecology lessons, Lanza sheds light on his family's charming dynamic (from his daughter's sensible suggestion that they depart from bear territory to his son's preference to attack the brutes), the wonder of the natural world, and the ethical responsibility we all have to mitigate the forces that are changing our planet 'faster even than scientists or computer models have anticipated.' This is a terrific blend of adventure ('Seeing a bison gallop thirty miles an hour — as they can — is like seeing a grand piano suddenly sprout horns and charge you with the speed of a horse.') 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. Photos. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Michael Lanza is a veteran freelance outdoors writer and photographer. He is the northwest editor of Backpacker magazine, where his articles about the impacts of climate change on Montana’s Glacier National Park and other wild lands helped Backpacker win a National Magazine Award. He runs the website TheBigOutside.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1) Deepest Earth
Chapter 2) How Does the Water Go Up the Mountain?
Chapter 3) The Distant Rumble of White Thunder
Chapter 4) In the Long Shadow of “The Mountain”
Chapter 5) Along a Wild Coast
Chapter 6) The Backbone of the World
Chapter 7) If a Tree Falls
Chapter 8) Searching for Dr. Seuss
Chapter 9) The End of Winter
Chapter 10) Going Under
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