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** Winner of Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books 2015 **
We live in epoch-making times. The changes we humans have made in recent decades have altered our world beyond anything it has experienced in its 4.6 billion-year history. As a result, our planet is said to be crossing into the Anthropocene – the Age of Humans.
Gaia Vince decided to travel the world at the start of this new age to see what life is really like for the people on the frontline of the planet we’ve made. From artificial glaciers in the Himalayas to painted mountains in Peru, electrified reefs in the Maldives to garbage islands in the Caribbean, Gaia found people doing the most extraordinary things to solve the problems that we ourselves have created.
These stories show what the Anthropocene means for all of us – and they illuminate how we might engineer Earth for our future.
Science journalist Vince has produced a book, simultaneously deeply depressing and thoroughly uplifting, that is all but impossible to put down. Organizing her stories by ecosystem, Vince chronicles the planetary changes humans have wrought during the Anthropocene, the current geological epoch. In superb prose she summarizes the actions of people whose lives have been irrevocably affected by climate change, urbanization, industrialization, and rampant greed. These same people, some of the poorest on the planet, are taking active steps to transform their lives and communities. Vince writes in the first chapter about Mahabir Pun, a Nepalese teacher who brought free WiFi connections to remote Himalayan villages, enabling students to attend school online and village nurses and midwives to work in a telemedicine and dentistry clinic linked via webcam. She also describes the remarkable efforts of an Indian civil engineer, Chewang Norphel, to construct temporary glaciers to provide water for remote, high-elevation villages whose natural glacial aquifers have disappeared as temperatures rise. Vince travelled for two years, interviewing and observing, to compile this amazing view of both the present and the future, and she concludes that it is not yet too late to create a rich and sustainable "shared future." Illus.