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Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Ever-Ending Earth

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  502 Ratings  ·  89 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 towa ...more
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Pantheon Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Oct 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Am excited to go to a reading by Craig Childs at Changing Hands in Tempe on October 15th, 7pm.
Richard Reese
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Larry Bassett
Apr 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
I'm stretching it a little bit to give this book 3 stars. It does have some parts that are pretty fascinating and the author seems to know a lot about a lot of somewhat odd things. I have written notes about each chapter so I'm not going to be repetitious in this review. The guy writes well. Is this a travelog? An adventure story? Accurately scientific? He did occasionally make me want to get off my butt and go out and see the world again. He reminded me of some of the places in the world that I ...more
Aug 04, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
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
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
Before you read this book you have to ask yourself what you want out of it, because if you want to read a book about the science of the apocalyptic potential of our planet, as I did, this is not the book for you. By far, about three paragraphs in four, this book is about the adventures of Craig Childs in different locales across the world. In every one of these places Childs gives the reader about a paragraph or two of scientific information and then goes back to retelling his personal trek thro ...more
Augustin Erba
Aug 14, 2016 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.

Kristi Thielen
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.

May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
It's kind of a forbidding title, huh? I read because I love Craig Childs writing - compelling even as he gives you a sea of information you never knew you could read through. The book takes you across the planet's climate zones and the places where climate change and its impacts are clearly evident. The world won't be destroyed tomorrow...and it is, in fact, the human population that has reached its apex and the earth that will survive. I can't believe he spent so much time walking through the f ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not a happy read, but a great view into natural and human-influenced changes to our global ecosystem. My favorite chapter was about Craig's experience on the ice shelf in Greenland -- you could feel the impact that trip had on him as reading the chapter.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
From the Antarctic ice to the oldest desert on Earth, Craig Childs takes the reader on an epic adventure to remarkable places as he explores what life might be like in different environments after apocalyptic disaster strikes.
C.G. Fewston
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Shana Yates
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ecology-nature
An almost poetic exploration of nine locations on earth that may act as a preview of one of the many ways the world (as we know it and like it) could end. Childs blends travelogue, scientific explanation, scientific prediction, and prose that is lush and humorous and introspective and sad in turns. His subtitle is apt, in calling it the ever-ending earth. Among many luminaries, he relays discussions with the eminent E. O. Wilson, who makes the point that you could (inadvisable as it may be) take ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
James McKenna
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like adventure writing and/or like to reflect on deeper meanings.
Craig Childs is a really good writer. I got tired of this book (well, mostly, I have a big pile and wanted to move on) but I couldn't stop reading it. (Please note: the first chapter is probably the weakest. Press on; you will not be disappointed.)

What I got tired of: The book is a series of essays built around ways in which the earth is constantly changing in sometimes violent, catastrophic ways. After four or five chapters I got the point; I was ready for the punch line and on to the next book
Ray Ziemer
Oct 04, 2016 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 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Since the hardback publication, it has been renamed, Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Future of the Earth. Titled a field guide because the author writes each section of the book after traveling to a different area of the planet where it's volatility is most evident. This is a very informative and interesting read. And while there is a fair amount of finger-pointing at the effect man is having on the ecosphere, there is plenty of acknowledgment that the planet itself, from plate techtonics ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Richard Hessney
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
Jason Roth
Sep 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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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.
More about Craig Childs...
“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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