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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Furthering the environmental dialogue, HIGH TIDE is far from a primer, ladies & gentlemen...far from it!, 1 Nov 2006
This review is from: High Tide: How Climate Crisis is Engulfing Our Planet: News from a Warming World (Paperback)
One of the best things I enjoyed about reading HIGH TIDE, I believe, was a remark author Mark Lynas made somewhere towards the end of this book. It's placement was entirely not the issue--perhaps even random, it was--but its content impressed upon me something vital and rather deeply, at that.

Lynas shared his initial concern over his lack of "complete scientific justification" for many of the things he was discussing with other professionals in the field. At certain points along his journey from enviro-curious to enviro-conscious, it caused him to question his overall motives, internalizing the criticisms he occasionally received from colleagues, friends, and family who began to perhaps think of him as something of a radical fundamentalist, environmentally-speaking.

Lynas told us how he felt slightly emasculated by some of the larger minds in the global environmental movement, and how if he were to take up the mantle of environmentalism, cleaner living, and self-limiting lifestyle techniques, thereby curbing his own contribution to the global carbon sink, how he'd potentially be branded by these same people a dilettante, a novice, a dabbler...even worse.

I'd have to admit that *this* was the line which clinched HIGH TIDE's premise for yours truly.

This--despite all of the fascinating accounts of Mark's globetrotting, his meanderings about the island nation of Tuvalu (itself sufficient, IMHO, for a whole book-length treatment on its own!), and his discoveries that the same Peruvian glacier which his father spied twenty years across a pristine high-altitude glacial lake had simply disappeared due to global warming--was the lone sentiment which I carted away with me from this read. It's the same one which I'll be sharing with my friends when they ask me what I've been reading of late.

It's hard not to admire Lynas, folks.

Global travel is tough on the sojourner. It doesn't matter who's footing the bill, m'kay, so let's just dismiss the commonly held belief that travel is amazing uf you're not the one paying for it. That's poppycock! These days, intercontinental travel is pure hell, and it's not been made any easier by the state of the world we live in...and I'm talking air travel, exclusively.

In essence, the person who does the travelling is forced to adjust to time zones, potential linguistic barriers, radical temperature shifts, lingering political effects, and in poor Mark's case, what can be best described as a "near-death experience."

In vivid detail, Mark describes how he ignored his own best advice regarding too rapid high-altitude ascent in the Andes, with thank goodness only remotely-disastrous consequences.

Mark spun around the globe, literally, spanning every hemisphere: north, south, east, and west. He bore the brunt of the climactic travails and the ravages of their overall toll on his own body, to deliver up this compelling piece of too-true non-fiction.

It does get depressing at a stage. Though not due to Mark's entertaining authorial style. It has more to do with the vagaries of of the Kyoto Protocol's acceptance (as in, what does it MEAN?), and what its various stipulations and evasive phraseologies will in fact, entail (concretely, in other words) when the time comes to implement things rigidly. And, like Lynas and other climatologists have long since been evangelizing--and they've already purchased jars of white talcum powder to mask just how blue in the face they really are from preaching to us the vital message--the reckoning is certainly coming.

In the British edition of the book, there's this great section toward the end where Mark is himself being interviewed about the latest developments *since* his publication of HIGH TIDE. In what could be best described as "I told you so," things indeed had tumbled precipitously since the 2004 publication year. We had Katrina in New Orleans, the tsunami in Southeast Asia, and restrictions on population flow between Tuvalu and New Zealand as part of those latter two countries' "special [population] arrangement."

SIX DEGREES, Mark's announced next book, will only be better, but only because it will be more vivid, more viseral, and more hard-hitting, as more and more people will identify with its descriptions...all because more people will have been directly affected by the things that Mark's been writing about all along.

Think of all he's seen, done, heard about, and learned in the interim--not to mention the "degree" to which he'd internalized the things he'd seen and heard during his travels. How much better he's improved, though the overall global prognosis has gotten terribly worse.

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy. But "looking forward" is too passive.

Like I said in the subject heading, this is certainly no primer, kids! For a first effort, it's challenged a heck of a lot of preconceived notions, and caused wide swathes of people to start talking. In this reviewer's hands, that's a heck of a lot more than I can say for some other people who don't walk the proverbial talk.

--ADM in Prague
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Location: Toronto, Canada

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