Synopses & Reviews
Traditionally thought of as the last great unspoiled territory on Earth, the Arctic is actually home to some of the most contaminated people and animals on the planet. Awarded a major grant to conduct an exhaustive study of the Arctic's deteriorating environment, Los Angeles Times environmental reporter Marla Cone traveled from Greenland to the Aleutian Islands to find out why the area is so toxic.
What she discovered shocked her: Tons of dangerous chemicals and pesticides from the United States, Europe, and Asia are carried to the Arctic by northbound winds and waves. As a result, Inuit women who eat seal and whale meat have far higher concentrations of PCBs and mercury in their breast milk than women who live in the most industrialized areas of the world, and they pass these poisons to their infants, leaving them susceptible to disease.
Silent Snow is not only a scientific journey, but also a personal one. Whether hunting giant bowhead whales with native Alaskans or tracking endangered polar bears in Norway, Cone reports with an insider's eye on the dangers of pollution to native peoples and ecosystems, how Arctic cultures are adapting, and what changes will prevent the crisis from getting worse.
"In 1999, environmental journalist Cone was awarded a Pew fellowship to examine the Arctic paradox: 'How,' she wondered, 'could the Arctic, so innocent, primitive, so natural... be home to the most contaminated people on the planet?' What she discovered is that pollution is as global as the economy, and that industrialized nations with their 'Save the whales!' movements are poisoning those very whales with chemical drift. In clear, engaging prose, she explains how PCBs leaking from a Chicago electrical transformer accumulate dramatically in sea mammals and people thousands of miles away. Traveling from Greenland to Alaska, she quickly finds that Power Bars and a down parka are inadequate to the Arctic, and that Inuit and Inupiat peoples rely on whales and seals for food and clothing because 'nothing else is perfectly suited to their environment.' In this sparsely populated territory, scientists have documented the world's swiftest ecosystem crash and mother's milk so chemically contaminated that it 'could be classified as hazardous waste.' But solutions are hard to find: there are no alternatives to replace contaminated food, it has become harder to ban chemicals in the U.S., and new contaminants are being introduced. Cone's sympathy with the peoples of the Arctic and her admiration for the harsh, beautiful world in which they live make this an inspiring book. And we all carry some level of the same toxins; as one Inuit says, 'The chemical threat is the ultimate threat... it reaches everywhere in the world.' Agent, Russ Galen. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The Arctic is home to some of the most contaminated people and animals on the planet. Cone reports on the dangers of pollution to native peoples and ecosystems, how Arctic cultures are adapting to this pollution, and what will prevent the crisis from getting worse.