Summary and book reviews of Silent Snow by Marla Cone

Silent Snow

The Slow Poisoning Of The Arctic

by Marla Cone

Silent Snow
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2005, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2006, 256 pages

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Book Summary

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.

An amazing scientific and personal journey into the lands, animals, and native peoples of the Arctic, which is home to some of the most dangerous and lethal contaminants on the planet

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.

What she discovered was shocking: 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. As a result, 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. Polar bears near the North Pole are increasingly born with altered immune systems and sex hormones.

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.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: A Moral Compass in a Vast, Lonely Land

Part I: The Arctic Paradox

  1. Blowing in the Wind: A Contaminant's Long Journey North
  2. Unexpected Poisons: Serendipity at the Top of the World
  3. The World's Unfortunate Laboratory
  4. light of the Ice Bear: Top of the World, Top of the Food Web
  5. Ties that Bind in Greenland
  6. A Fish Can't Feed a Village: Alaska's Communal Hunts 90

Part II: Scientists Seeking Order Out of Chaos

  1. Fear Is Toxic, Too: Communicating Risk to Canada's Inuit 
  2. Into the Brains of Babes: Searching for Clues in Faroese Children
  3. Beyond Silent Spring: A Global Assault on Sex Hormones and Immune Systems
  4. The Arctic in Flux: Global Conspirators and the Whims of Climate
  5. Islands of Sudden Change: The Evolution of the Aleutians

Part III: Solutions and Predictions

  1. The Diagnosis: Scientists Write a Prescription
  2. POPs and Politics: Taking the First Step Toward a Solution
  3. The Chain...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

To get an insight into the cause of this problem and why it effects the colder climates of the Arctic more so than the rest of the world and, most importantly, why it matters, spend five minutes reading the excerpt at BookBrowse. It will be time well spent! If you haven't already done so, I also encourage you to browse The Weather Makers.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews

Booklist - Donna Seaman

Starred Review. Cone's superb and affecting delineation of the Arctic's chemical crisis and its consequences for us all is galvanizing and necessary.

Kirkus Reviews

Gloomy, stern and wholly memorable - certainly for environmentalists, wherever they may be, but, let's hope, reaching policymakers as well.

Reader Reviews

Roger

Silent Snow
Proof reading !! Page 166. " fresh water is DENSER than salt water, so IT SITS ON TOP " . I fear the basic law of physics has been breached.

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Beyond the Book

Marla Cone is one of the USA's premier environmental journalists. She has nineteen years of experience covering environmental issues and has twice won a national award for environmental reporting.

In 1962 Rachel Carson warned of the the dangers of DDT in Silent Spring. Now Marla Cone warns of a far more malignant cocktail of poisons that have already reached crisis levels in the Arctic region.

The Arctic is the 'canary in the coal mine' for the ...

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