The Last Winter: The Scientists, Adventurers, Journeymen, and Mavericks Trying to Save the World (Hardcover)
One man’s “curiously thrilling joyride” of travelogue, history, and climatology, across a planet on the brink of cataclysmic transformation.
As the planet warms, winter is shrinking. In the last fifty years, the Northern Hemisphere lost a million square miles of spring snowpack and in the US alone, snow cover has been reduced by 15-30%. On average, winter has shrunk by a month in most northern latitudes.
In this deeply researched, beautifully written, and adventure-filled book, journalist Porter Fox travels along the edge of the Northern Hemisphere's snow line to track the scope of this drastic change, and how it will literally change everything—from rapid sea level rise, to fresh water scarcity for two billion people, to massive greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost, and a half dozen climate tipping points that could very well spell the end of our world.
This original research is animated by four harrowing and illuminating journeys—each grounded by interviews with idiosyncratic, charismatic experts in their respective fields and Fox's own narrative of growing up on a remote island in Northern Maine.
Timely, atmospheric, and expertly investigated, The Last Winter will showcase a shocking and unexpected casualty of climate change—that may well set off its own unstoppable warming cycle.
About the Author
Porter Fox was born in New York and raised on the coast of Maine. He is the author of Northland: A 4,000-Mile Journey Along America's Forgotten Border and DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow, featured on the cover of The New York Times Sunday Review and in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He lives, writes and edits the award-winning literary travel writing journal Nowhere in upstate New York.
His work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Believer, Outside, Men's Journal, National Geographic Adventure, Powder, TheNewYorker.com, TheParisReview.com, Salon.com, Narrative, The Literary Review, and has been anthologized in The Best American Travel Writing. He teaches at Columbia University School of the Arts and is a MacDowell Fellow. He won a Western Press Association award in 2014 for a two-part feature about climate change and a Lowell Thomas Award for an excerpt from Northland.
“Before the snowpack vanishes and the glaciers melt away, The Last Winter takes us on a tour of all we are poised to lose—the beauties and elations and wonders, both natural and human, to be found in frigid latitudes and altitudes. Fox is an ideal guide. He writes perceptively and knowledgably but also lovingly about the places and people he encounters along the way. The result is a curiously thrilling joyride that makes you marvel and grieve.”
—Donovan Hohn, author of MOBY-DUCK and THE INNER COAST
“The importance of ice was not as clear to me as it should have been. It is now. This is a rousing, literate, multi-continental tour of the cryosphere. Check it out: the end of winter, if we fail to prevent it, will be the end of the world as we know it.”—William Finnegan, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning BARBARIAN DAYS
“From its gripping opening pages to its haunting conclusion, Porter Fox's The Last Winter is poised to become a landmark text in climate change literature. Yet this isn't a dry, doleful book. Instead, it's filled with often gorgeous prose and fascinating, indelible characters who seem to have gone AWOL from a Paul Theroux or Peter Mathiessen novel. Riveting, unforgettable, and important.”—Tom Bissell, author of CHASING THE SEA and APOSTLE
“In the grand tradition of writers like John McPhee, journalist Porter Fox beautifully transforms the language of the natural sciences into captivating and deeply personal narratives. As a new father, Fox revitalizes the terms of the classic Arctic adventure into an emotional allegory of our planet's perilous decline. Absolutely necessary reading, not only as a portrait of our fragile planet, but as a guide for salvation.”
—Jennifer Percy, author of DEMON CAMP
“As winter vanishes, so do the many cultures forged by glacier, ice floe, and permafrost. Porter Fox has written an imaginative and deeply personal travelogue that reveals how climate change is not only a threat to our future, but a threat to our past.”
—Nathaniel Rich, author of LOSING EARTH and SECOND NATURE
“Ominous though beautifully written. . . . It’s the kind of book John McPhee would write if he were abroad in wintry places, and we’re fortunate that Fox has taken his place. An essential addition to the library of climate change and one that ought to spur readers to do something about it.”—KIRKUS REVIEWS
“Moving travelogue about snowy places and the people who inhabit them . . . A rollicking adventure story. . . . Much to savor in this exciting yet distressing tale.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY