Climate scientist Goodrich chronicles his cycling journey across the United States.
Throughout his travels, the author compared how people are experiencing, and discussing, changes in the weather with what he has learned about climate change during his scientific career. Goodrich was director of the U.N. Global Climate Observing System in Geneva and also served as the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Observations and Monitoring Program. Beginning in Delaware, the author cycled 4,200 miles around the country, and his narrative serves as a unique profile of the U.S. and its people. He writes of particular cases in which, season to season—and even day to day—changes in the weather indicate longer-term consequences for the overall climate. His conversations with fellow scientists and others—e.g., Annie Larsen, a biologist at Delaware’s Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge—give fascinating insight into how the process is perceived. Though the details differ with topographic and climatological zones, the overall problems remain the same, whether it’s the growing dead zone at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay, bigger, more dangerous tornadoes in the Midwest (which the author encountered), pine beetle infestation in the Rockies, or the shrinking winter snow pack in the Bitterroot Mountains. Throughout the narrative, Goodrich smoothly interweaves the stories of the people he met and the places he visited, and he is clear about how the many dangers he faced during his journey were offset by the hospitality he discovered. Native American history provides a further dimension to the story, and the author also provides helpful explanations of how climate scientists work and develop their data. This cyclist’s view of how things really are effectively cuts across head-butting arguments about global warming.
A compelling narrative
enlivened as much by the author’s encounters on the road as by his skillful
unfolding of scientific knowledge.