Praise-singing alarum depicting cold environments as under attack by greed-fed malfeasance.
An editor tracks down Ehrlich (This Cold Heaven, 2001, etc.), who’s living in a snow-bound tent in Wyoming and has logged time in other chilly venues, to ask whether she will write a book about winter, climate change, and the prospect of de-seasoning. The author bites: “What is the future of winter, of snow, of ice?” She already knows something is amiss, namely a human-fueled acceleration of global warming and general habitat degradation. (Pick a habitat, any habitat.) Glaciers are on the run, ice caps are melting, greenhouse gases are increasing, poisons are trapped in the snow, and Ehrlich tenders lucid slices of scientists’ thoughts on the factors behind this loss of cold on earth. But true to her innate weather consciousness (“weather streamed into my nose, mouth, eyes, ears, and circulated in my brain”), she also seeks to express the vital biological and spiritual connections between cold and planetary health. These will be revealed in fleet impressions of her experiences while traveling in Tierra del Fuego, to the great islands of the Russian Far North. The impressions are personal, sometimes crystalline and sometimes oblique (winter is “the season we dive through the Big Dipper’s cup to the other side of the constellations; we go behind the scenes of our own lives”), though also communicative of cold’s fine urgency, a danger that can drive beauty to the bone, create brilliant cultures (not to mention colors), or nurture a fine menagerie, like the bumblebee “looking like a piece of fire” that flies into the maw of a snow squall.
Ehrlich urges us “to be driven into action by the wild beauty and difficulty of a place,” action to defend and action as the act of living.