I've read several excellent books on climate change and ecological themes, most notably Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
and The World without Us
. Marek Kohn's fine work ranks right up there with the best of them.
Despite the rather sensationalist cover, Kohn's text offers a balanced and thoroughly researched view. He looks at each landscape in the context of its past, examining how it has reached its present form and the stresses to which it is subject, before looking at how these factors are likely to change in the context of a warmer climate. Inevitably, I was drawn to the chapters dealing with the landscapes most familiar to me (as a Sussex lad, I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Cuckmere Haven), and other readers may find the same. But that's not to say that the other chapters weren't interesting, and the quality of the writing ensures that the book as a whole is an engaging and enjoyable read.
Some of Kohn's more speculative predictions might, in the long term, prove to be rather fanciful - somewhat akin to 'your home in the year 2000' pieces from old episodes of Tomorrow's World. However, that's a minor niggle, and predictions about future technologies are not a primary component of the book. The real focus in the natural world, with each landscape representing a different type of ecosystem. And this, for me, is the book's great strength. Its structure allows us to see how climate change will alter things on a local scale, bringing a sense of immediacy to a subject that can often seem too vast to comprehend in a meaningful way.