Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic

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Overview

Traditionally thought of as the last great unspoiled territory on Earth, the Arctic is in reality home to some of the most contaminated people and animals on the planet.

Tons of dangerous chemicals and pesticides from the United States, Europe, and Asia are being carried to the Arctic by northbound winds and waves and amplified in the ocean's food web. Polar bears near the North Pole are increasingly born with altered immune systems and sex hormones. Inuit women who eat seal and...

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Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic

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Overview

Traditionally thought of as the last great unspoiled territory on Earth, the Arctic is in reality home to some of the most contaminated people and animals on the planet.

Tons of dangerous chemicals and pesticides from the United States, Europe, and Asia are being carried to the Arctic by northbound winds and waves and amplified in the ocean's food web. Polar bears near the North Pole are increasingly born with altered immune systems and sex hormones. Inuit women who eat seal and whale meat have far higher concentrations of PCBs and mercury in their breast milk than women who live in the most industrialized areas of the world, and they pass these poisons to their infants, leaving them susceptible to disease. As a result, Arctic people are among the most contaminated human beings on Earth, some of them carrying chemicals that technically would qualify their bodies as hazardous waste.

Author Marla Cone reports with an insider's eye on the dangers of pollution to native peoples and ecosystems, how Arctic cultures are adapting to this pollution, and what solutions will prevent the crisis from getting worse.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A slender but punch-packing overview of the environmental destruction of the Far North. Spookier than the Conrad Aiken short story from which it takes its title, environmental journalist Cone's debut examines the causes for the Arctic's emergence as the industrial northern hemisphere's dumping ground. Though the air over Chicago carries far more polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, than that over the Arctic island of Svalbard, the bodies of animals and people throughout the Far North contain far higher levels of "toxic trash"-precisely because the food chain is much more attenuated there, so that animals at the top of the web consume the full weight of the pesticides and poisons their prey has eaten. In the Arctic, humans occupy that spot and "can carry millions, perhaps billions, of times more PCBs than the waters where they harvest their foods." The poisons have every danger of demolishing the Inuit and other northern peoples, who can stop hunting and thus, by abandoning their traditional ways, lose their cultures, or who can continue following the old ways and thus continue consuming dangerous levels of toxins. Cultural or environmental genocide: Either way, it's an unlucky draw, and the psychological distress this wholesale poisoning has brought on is massive. The polar bears have it no better; their blood now carries billions of times more PCBs than do the waters of the Arctic Ocean, yielding stillbirths, cancers and other maladies. But, Cone notes, though the Arctic is what one scientist calls the world's " 'indicator region'-the canary in the mine-for the persistence and spread of toxic compounds," it is not alone; the residents of the Arctic may be suffering, but then so are thosein industrial nations-witness the one in six babies now born in the U.S. to mothers whose mercury levels exceed those judged by the government to be safe. Gloomy, stern and wholly memorable-certainly for environmentalists, wherever they may be, but, let's hope, reaching policymakers as well.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802117977
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Pages: 246
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 10.96 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction : a moral compass in a vast, lonely land 1
1 Blowing in the wind : a contaminant's long journey north 17
2 Unexpected poisons : serendipity at the top of the world 24
3 The world's unfortunate laboratory 42
4 Plight of the ice bear : top of the world, top of the food web 52
5 Ties that bind in Greenland 71
6 A fish can't feed a village : Alaska's communal hunts 90
7 Fear is toxic, too : communicating risk to Canada's Inuit 111
8 Into the brains of babes : searching for clues in Faroese children 127
9 Beyond silent spring : a global assault on sex hormones and immune systems 144
10 The Arctic in flux : global conspirators and the whims of climate 160
11 Islands of sudden change : the evolution of the Aleutians 175
12 The diagnosis : scientists write a prescription 191
13 POPs and politics : taking the first step toward a solution 199
14 The chain of evil continues unbroken : the Arctic's new toxic legacies 207
Epilogue : survival of the fittest : walking in the Inuit's footsteps 215
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    List of Popsicles and Milkshakes! (And a few more toppings)

    POPSICLES WILL CO<_>ST 2 BITS<p>Strawberry<p>Cherry< p>Blue Raspberry<p>Banana<p>Grape<p>Pineapple<p>Orange<p>Watermelon<p>Mango<p>Coconut<p>MILKSHAKES WILL CO<_>ST 5 BITS<p>Vanilla<p>Chocolate<p>Strawberry<p>MOAR TOPPINGS!<p>Pecans<p>Coconut Shavings<p>Caramel<p>A Cherry

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    Marla Cone is a premier environmental journalist who profession

    Marla Cone is a premier environmental journalist who professionally covers years and years of precise research into an engaging and mind blowing read. Travelling to the coldest inhabited places on the planet, Cone meets the Nuvavik tribes and learns about several other Artic groups who are suffering from the millions of tons of PCB’s located in their beautiful home. Not only does Silent Snow clearly portray and tell years of amazing scientific discoveries but tells a dismal story of “The slow poisoning of the Artic”. Readers will sympathize with the results that the Artic is dealing with due to our carelessness and pure laziness in severe environmental issues we face today. Cone purely reports that the serene, innocent Artic is one of the most hazardous places in the entire world. Not only are we the reason behind this madness but there is ultimately neither awareness nor any action taken to put a halt on poisoning the most innocent and peaceful place on Earth.
    Cone’s sympathy with the Artic peoples and her admiration for their beautiful world truly touches the heart to all readers. Her policy of teaching over lecturing more effecting gets the picture across that the cities and even small towns are the source where PCB’s find their way into the bodies of the Artic people, permanently damaging their health but also the diet that they survive off of. Each page unfolds a new mystery because who knew that the most serene and nature-dependent place in the world would also be the most toxic. Cone’s dismaying findings create a much bigger picture than those before Silent Snow. These landmark scientific discoveries definitely have the power to be able to emotionally move readers and in hope, ultimately push them to action.



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