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Fire and Ice

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  40 ratings  ·  14 reviews
High in the Himalayan valley of Zanskar in northwest India sits a village as isolated as the legendary Shangri-La. Long fed by runoff from glaciers and lofty snowfields, Kumik--a settlement of thirty nine mud brick homes--has survived and thrived in one of the world's most challenging settings for a thousand years. But now its people confront an existential threat: chronic ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published March 24th 2015 by St. Martin's Press
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really liked it 4.00  · 
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Raises a lot of important issues but it's overly long and very repetitive at times. More complete review to come.

Complete review:

I have such conflicted feelings about this book. I learned a lot from it, and I think it was an extremely worthwhile read that taught me a lot about an aspect of climate change I really knew nothing about. Environmental issues are important to me, and I try to be a good citizen by reducing my carbon footprint, but I was very surprised to learn how much damage black car
Charlie Newfell
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
I feel guilty giving this book just two stars for two reasons. First, I only made it through the first 80 pages (it goes 400) and second, it does deal with a serious issue - global warming.

The author's premise, which I believe, is that black carbon (the waste from burning) is having an extreme impact in many areas of the developing world. In Northern India, where most people use open flames for cooking and heating, it's having a terrible impact on the melting of the glaciers, disputing villages
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fire and Ice is a great story following a select group of people in the Zanskari region as they adapt to the swiftly changing conditions with their only source of water over the decades of increasing temperature. The book is a mix of a biographical narrative of the people living in Kumik over several years as they adapt to increased drought conditions and the movement of their village to a better location. Over the 400 or so pages, I came to become heavily invested in the individuals lives as th ...more
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
When I think of a book on global warming and more specifically black carbon, I don't think of an enjoyable narrative. However, in Jonathan Mingle's, Fire and Ice, Mingle is able to do just that. He weaves an intriguing story of the people of Kumik, high in the Himalayas, with the impact of black carbon on global warming. Mingle writes with a charming, conversational tone that helped draw me into his story of over a decade of visits to Kumik. This writing style makes all of the science that so of ...more
Melissa Lindsey
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an important book that melds science and narrative into a story about the dangers of black carbon. Mingle skillfully weaves the technical material necessary understanding the science with interesting stories about the people who are most impacted by soot.

Ultimately, Mingle writes with the knowledge that we may not feel moved to do anything about those who are suffering half-way around the world as he rightly notes that we don't have "the cognitive or emotional bandwidth to take on board
Kyle Schroeckenthaler
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The book was great. Jon does a great job of weaving together two main themes - the science of black carbon warming the planet, and the lives and culture of a village in the Zanskar valley of northern India. He works hard to make the science of short lived climate forces (mostly emphasizing black carbon) accessible throughout the book and is effective in communicating the scope of the issue and also some of the actions available to combat it. By interweaving the narrative of Kumik, he avoids prea ...more
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a very thoughtful look primarily at the principle causal agent for the receding of glaciers across the world. The agent is black carbon (soot) that comes from various sources including cook stoves, wild fires, diesel engines, fireplaces etc. but primarily open fires. If we could reduce these sources it will help in the global warming fight but will have immediate impact on glaciers. Whits snow reflects heat but black carbon absorbs heat which is the problem. The author primarily focuses ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it
There is no doubt that is book presents crucial information on climate change of which we all should familiarize ourselves. However, I find the repetition of information very exhausting and at times very confusing. The book could have been more powerful if it was more concise and to the point.
Jonathan Mingle (journalist, frequent contributor to, etc.) has written a book that will surely be acclaimed as an essential read in the climate change debate, arguably the most important current debate about our world and our collective policy decisions. "Fire and Ice" focuses on the catastrophic environmental impact inflicted by the tiny grains of black carbon created by inefficient burning . . . and a stark reminder that our global economy relies on a staggering amount of inefficien ...more
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Black Carbon. My first thought with those words is "soot", yet how wrong that simple picture is. As we peer up into our skies, and think about how much progress we've made on combating air pollution, it turns out we really haven't come that far. And we have "miles to go before we sleep".

Black Carbon is, essentially, what is released upon burning. It might not travel, or it could travel hundreds - even thousands - of miles. And it, more than almost anything else, is what is responsible for the ra
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Two books in one, and both very well written. The villagers of Kumik are portrayed in some depth, since Mingle visited for months at a time over the course of some years. This story reminded me of Mortensen's books, Three Cups of Tea, etc. but the cultures of the villages contrast in many ways.

Then there is the deep science and historical research on the pollution of soot, or black carbon. It's another critical factor in climate change, but one that we already have the technology to mitigate, by
Mar 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book through good reads giveaways. While I'm glad I read it (I honestly hadn't heard much about black carbon at all), and got to learn about this crisis, I thought that the author was more wordy than necessary. I sort of felt like I kept reading the same thing over and over. I think he probably could have achieved getting his message and the story across in way fewer pages. Thanks to the publisher for sharing this book through giveaways and alerting us to this important environme ...more
James Blackhall
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it
With the already unfolding drama of climate change "Fire and ice" brings something new to keep in mind- soot or black carbon. Tiny Particles that are exhausted across great focuses in the Himalayas which regulate the water flow of the mighty rivers of Asia. This book is more about scientific fact and unfortunately keeps reminding us of the perils we have inflicted on ourselves constantly across all classes and cultures- but does give great reasoning for change.
Tracy Dorsett
Too much for me. I hate to admit it, but I would have preferred this book in the form of a documentary film.
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Jonathan Mingle is the author of Fire and Ice: Soot, Solidarity and Survival on the Roof of the World. His writing on the environment, climate and development has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, The Boston Globe, and other publications. He is a former Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism, a recipient of the American Alpine Club's Zach Martin Breaking Barriers Award, and a graduate ...more
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