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Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic

Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic

4.3 3
by Marla Cone

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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. Awarded a major grant to conduct an exhaustive study of the deteriorating environment of the Arctic by the Pew Charitable Trusts (the first time Pew has given such a grant to a journalist), Los


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. Awarded a major grant to conduct an exhaustive study of the deteriorating environment of the Arctic by the Pew Charitable Trusts (the first time Pew has given such a grant to a journalist), Los Angeles Times environmental reporter Marla Cone traveled across the Arctic, from Greenland to the Aleutian Islands, to find out why the Arctic is toxic.

Silent Snow is not only a scientific journey, but a personal one. Whether hunting giant bowhead whales with native Alaskans who are struggling to protect their livelihood, or tracking endangered polar bears in Norway, 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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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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Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.50(d)

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Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Alexa_N More than 1 year ago
.Marla Cone, I feel, does an excellent job infusing the environmental concerns of the Arctic with descriptive, easy to read language, which is both captivating and capable of maintaining interest throughout every single page. As a high school student who was assigned this book to read during class, I at first thought it would be a stale read, leaving me both bored and unattentive. However, Cone's brilliant telling of the slow poisoning of the Arctic prevents any such thing from happening. It's amazing that the polycholorinated biphenyls (PCBs, as Cone refers to them) that are produced in America are capabale of contaminating and poisoning people in the Arctic, despite the fact that they lead such a clean, uncontaminated life. I for one, never would have expected the chemicals that major countries produce to have such a toxic impact on those who produce no chemicals at all. This impact is not insignificant either, it's taking quite the toll on infant lives in the Arctic, as contaminated mothers are killing their babies through breast feeding. I recall Cone mentioning how the breast milk that these mother's were producing was so toxic, that you could classify their bodies as hazardous waste. That was probably the most notable fact for me. Cone's entire book, however, is full of both her own interesting life experiences in the Arctic with the Inuits, and scientific data which she has researched and collected. Even if you think you have no interest in these kind of topic, Cone will make you interested. I definitely recommend this book to other high schoolers, as well as those involved in the environmental science community.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.