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Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  403 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
The earth has died many times, and it always comes back looking different. In an exhilarating, surprising exploration of our planet, Craig Childs takes readers on a firsthand journey through apocalypse, touching the truth behind the speculation. Apocalyptic Planet is a combination of science and adventure that reveals the ways in which our world is constantly moving toward ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2012)
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Mar 03, 2016 Ryandake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i don't know which to envy more: this guy's fitness level, his life, or his ability to write a stunningly beautiful sentence.

i came across this book while researching the probable effects of climate change, and it's a good read if you want to educate yourself on that subject. i learned more about desertification, for example, than in any other book i've read so far.

but the book totally lacks the doom & gloom quotient of other books, and contains a lot more besides.

Childs roams around the wor
Mar 17, 2015 Bandit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've long been fascinated with apocalypse, although traditionally in fiction form. Nonfiction read on the topic seemed in order. This book won awards and it's easy to see why. The writing is quite excellent, impressively literary. So much so in fact that the book doesn't even have prerequisite photo section so many nonfictions tend to, the descriptions are vivid enough. Chapter by chapter the author sets off on what to a layperson seems like exceptionally masochistic trips in the world's most ex ...more
Linda Robinson
Apr 26, 2013 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I picked up this book, I had more than one list in my head of what to keep handy in the event of planetary catastrophe. I wrote letters and protested oil pipelines, nuclear containment wells miles deep in the earth, crabbed about congressmen who pay homage to robber barons, and vote to end life on earth as we know it routinely, like brushing their teeth or taking out the garbage. Well. Turns out earth can take care of herself, thank you very much. Not only earth, but the solar system and be ...more
Tina Cipolla
Oct 21, 2012 Tina Cipolla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fact that I went to see this author do a reading certainly adds to my experience of this book, but even if I were to ignore Child's excellent presentation, this book still gets 5 stars from me.

In Apocalyptic Planet: The story of the Everending Earth, Craig Childs looks at a series of planetary end scenarios. Each frightening and fascinating and most are events that have already happened on this planet at some point--asteroid strikes, super volcanos and the like. He describes the end scenari
Nov 19, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the thing that pushed this book to a four star rating for me was the really unique way in which the author juxtaposed his musings on the upheavals that could end our civilization with descriptions of his travels in environments that mimic these upheavals on a smaller scale--the monoculture of a large Iowa farm, the tectonic majesty of a Tibetan river gorge, the blank ice fields of Greenland. It gave his work an immediacy that others lack.
Lizzy Lessard
More of a memoir of the author trying to envision life in various apocalyptic events than a "what if" type of book. It reminded me of the show IT COULD HAPPEN TOMORROW, but lacked possible survival methods for each scenario. Personally, I was expecting more facts and less personal history.
Jun 23, 2014 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Am excited to go to a reading by Craig Childs at Changing Hands in Tempe on October 15th, 7pm.
I've been a huge fan of Childs ever since I read the Secret Knowledge of Water. He has a way of telling stories that are so captivating that you can't put the book down until you're done. I love how he weaves a spiritual respect for nature & wildlife into his stories. And I really appreciate how varied his past experience has been.

This book had two firsts from my experience with Childs. Number one; this was the first book I've read from him in which he shared a lot of background about his fa
Richard Reese
Mar 25, 2015 Richard Reese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Craig Childs is a nature writer and globetrotting adventure hog. He’s been thinking a lot about apocalypse lately. It’s hard not to. The jungle drums are pounding out a growing stream of warnings — attention! — big trouble ahead.

The Christian currents in our culture encourage us to perceive time as being something like a drag strip. At one end is the starting line (creation), and at the other end is the finish line (judgment day). We’re speeding closer and closer to the end, which some perceive
Aug 27, 2013 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what I expected from this book or this author. I'd never read anything by Childs before but had heard him on NPR in a background sort of way and recalled, vaguely, liking what I heard. I'm also planning a Big Trip by bicycle that includes parts of the desert southwest and his name came up in relation to those-who-write-about-the-desert and I thought I'd give him a go.

First, let me speak to the things I did NOT enjoy about his work.

Why are we treated to "sex on ice" not once but twic
Aug 27, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Back-pack porn? Perhaps. It certainly evoked the feeling of being on an outdoor adventure, as I vicariously lived it page by page, comfortably sitting on my commuter rail ass.
More, though, it's theme is perspective, and how difficult it is for us transient beings to fully appreciate geological Earth time (let alone MBTA time), and thus how we get our knickers in a twist over environmental change, however rapid it seems to us. Even he catches himself thinking of the now as a kind of "ending up" w
Andrew Venegas
Having now read this book three times in two years, I am vexed by the realization that it's empirically one of my favorite books. Some might think it distasteful to enjoy a book that contemplates the end of civilization, yet I am delighted in the discourse.

The author presents at once the humorous anecdotes of a Bill Bryson novel with the intrepid candor of Doris Kearns Goodwin (high praise, to be sure), detailing the ups and downs of deep time in distant, grand locales that precious few would e
Augustin Erba
Aug 14, 2016 Augustin Erba rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Someone forgot that writing popular science takes effort and is not just a way to make tax deductable travels. Someone forgot that characters is brought to life by showing, not telling. Someone forgot that gaps in the science narration of a popular science book is not to be filled by inserting endless footnotes after each chapter, but should blend into the writing.
It is impressive, however, to write a book about science when you obviously did not study neither science nor scientific methods.

Richard Hessney
Jan 02, 2016 Richard Hessney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
This is a vivid, readable account of the major physical forces and human-induced factors that have shaped Earth's past and will determine its future. The book's main attraction isn't the science but Craig Childs putting the reader on location where epic natural events are occurring. If his topic is the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, he takes you with him to the glaciers of Patagonia and the Greenland ice sheet. If it's volcanism, you're with him dodging lava flows on Kilauea in Hawaii. For ...more
Kristi Thielen
Dec 25, 2012 Kristi Thielen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the kind of thing I typically choose to read, but my husband enjoys this author and he was a charming speaker at a Book Convention here in the Black Hills several years ago. I particularly enjoyed the chapter "Civilizations Fall" and only wish Childs had written more about these cultures that were once so mighty and are now so utterly gone.

Mar 26, 2016 Dave rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think most people would probably like this more than I did. To me the whole idea of visiting the most inhospitable regions of the earth to visualize this planet's potential apocalyptic scenarios just felt like kind of a pointless gimmick, almost like he was just looking for a way to justify travelling to a bunch of unique locations. I really wasn't too interested in his personal adventure stories or in his clever metaphors for sunrises and flowers and shit. This is one of those books where the ...more
Ray Ziemer
Oct 04, 2016 Ray Ziemer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Apocalyptic Planet we accompany intrepid nature writer Craig Childs down many trails to catch a glimpse of the end of the world. It’s much the same approach he took in describing the desert in The Secret Knowledge of Water, and in House of Rain, his exploration of the disappearance of the ancient peoples of the Southwest. Childs gets out on his feet, on his hands and knees if necessary, to get a close-up and personal look at Nature.
Mixed in with his personal thoughts and observations are sele
Feb 21, 2014 Cai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this investigation into all the possible ways the world, as we know it, might end. Childs visits nine places on the planet that speak to some of the cataclysmic (or more gradual) events that might change the earth significantly enough to put an end to human life. He puts himself into extremities (heat, cold, desolation, swift water) that test his endurance—the Sonoran desert of Mexico, a flooding river with Class 5 rapids on the Tibetan Plateau, the still-polar but collapsing ice of Gree ...more
Jan 22, 2015 Christopher rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I like ice cream and I like sushi but even so I still don't like them combined together.

You know, at some level I just have to say that while I do love nature writing and I do love natural history/science books I really do not like the combination of the two especially with a constant back and forth narrative going on.

And it seems to be a growing trend in alot of popular science these days. Still, it was worth reading all the way through because the specific case studies are fascinating, and so
Dec 13, 2015 Aaron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't get as much enjoyment as I'd expected to out of this book, a series of biographical essays on trips to extreme places and ruminations on life, environments, and destruction. It was full of neat information but they were not strung together in a way that kept my attention, so I've had this book laying around for months with a bookmark in it marking the various places in my reading where I'd wandered off, mentally then physically. I passed it along to my my biology-major sister hoping she ...more
Mar 02, 2016 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second time I've read this book. It's also the second book by Craig Childs that I've read -- the other being The Secret Knowledge of Water. The author goes to the ends of the earth to bring us the fascinating story of our own planet through a series of essays on our planet's history of global warming, global cooling, clashing continents, and rising sea levels. Did you know that we are currently losing somewhere between 18,000 and 140,000 species to extinction every year? Or that it t ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Mar 25, 2014 Kathleen Dixon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Everybody knows you can't judge a book by its cover, but this book's fabulous title and cover are what caught my eye. Then the blurb made me think it would be very interesting, and a quick browse had me delighting the use of language, so I borrowed it from the library. Now, the fact that it took me eleven months to read has nothing to do with how much I enjoyed this book - that's indicative that I liked it so much that I came back to it after having to return it unfinished.

We know now that there
I was about two thirds of the way through this book before I realized I'd read this author before. I must've picked up this book based on a review that mentioned House of Rain, but I'd since forgotten. Childs has such a wonderfully descriptive way of writing. And I love how his poetic descriptions contrast with the rather robustly scientific bibliography he provides. This bibliography is divided into landscapes and processes (oceans, deserts, tectonics) that don't necessarily match up with the c ...more
May 07, 2015 CG FEWSTON rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Apocalyptic Planet by Craig Childs is an ambitious work, spanning several continents and billions of years, and the author maintains an energetic tone that not only beckons the reader into the most mysterious places on Earth, but also warns to the cataclysms that may befall our precious world.

Part travel log and part science guidebook, Apocalyptic Planet is filled with wit, humor, and fascinating facts about the Earth as a living organism and a place filled with various landscapes of desolation
Jason Roth
Sep 27, 2013 Jason Roth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I admit to being biased because I’m a junkie when it comes to reading about geology, nature, and being outdoors; I believe Craig Childs is a Colorado and regional treasure. In this book, he travels to calculated transitional zones around the world and looks to the geological past to explain different outcomes for the future of our planet as it pertains to climate change. His writing style does not appear to me to incite the climate change debate by being overly biased, as he tends to st ...more
Corie Sanford
Apr 10, 2016 Corie Sanford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Childs is by far one of my favorite contemporary authors. He manages to intermix story with science in a tangible, fascinating way. This book was a vivid insight into the workings of the many forces - human and geologic - that have shaped and are shaping our world. It also turned out to be a fascinating tour of some of the remotest places of our planet, places I will probably never have the physical prowess to access. I felt like a privileged insider, and have even more gratitude than before to ...more
Craig Childs' is one of the best nature writers working today -- his prose is lean yet muscular, full of the right amount of detail, packed with really creative descriptive language and metaphors, and he's always writing from an outdoor adventure most humans would not chose to take. This book has him exploring the many different ways the Earth is constantly destroying and rebuilding herself, with an eye towards our current impending climate change apocalypse. He hikes across desolate salt flats ...more
Feb 04, 2014 Phritz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Childs writes in a poetic cadence, often crafting impressionistic passages about the landscape and his (or our) experience of it. But his accounts are so wide ranging and touch such amazing landscapes: Greenland, Patagonia, Nepal, Hawaii, Sonora, and much more. I am amazed about how much he packed into the book. Meanwhile, he manages to introduce us to interesting characters along the way, in the form of his friends and field partners.
Skye Griffith
May 08, 2014 Skye Griffith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, about a very dire circumstance--the effects of climate change--was beautifully written and surprisingly hopeful. Childs seems to take solace in the "ever-ending" state of our planet, as if finding evidence of the extreme climate changes of the past, such as an earth covered with ice, proves the potential for life to go on following natural or man-made disasters, although admittedly, it may not include the human race if we continue to foul the environment. Childs seeks out the extreme ...more
Mar 03, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll give it a weak three stars.

Apocalyptic Planet has chapters on topics such as desertification, sea level rise, glacial retreat, volcanism, and so on. The author talks in part about the science of these phenomena, but he mostly describes his treks through areas that demonstrate the chapter topics. So, this book would be appealing to those interested in reading about, for example, backpacking trips through the Atacama Desert or an Iowa corn field. On the other hand, it would likely be less int
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CRAIG CHILDS is a commentator for NPR's Morning Edition, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Men's Journal, Outside, The Sun, and Orion. He has won numerous awards including the 2011 Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, 2008 Rowell Award for the Art of Adventure, the 2007 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, and the 2003 Spirit of the West Award for his body of work.
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“They may not become extinct immediately, but being pushed out of decaying or destroyed habitats eventually takes its toll. The concept is known as extinction debt, the delay between the stress on species and the final dwindling of the last survivors until the organisms disappear and are never seen again.” 2 likes
“This is the yin and yang of the earth, an energetic feedback. What happens below relates directly to what is happening on the surface and in the atmosphere and vice versa. Tectonics does not end at the ground beneath your feet. It is a dynamic system from the earth's interior all the way into the sky and back.” 1 likes
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