Matt's Reviews > Future Arctic: Field Notes from a World on the Edge

Future Arctic by Edward Struzik
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it was amazing
bookshelves: nature-and-science

“Future Arctic” by Edward Struzik, excellent on its own, is also a good complementary read to a book like Kennedy Warne’s “Let Them Eat Shrimp.” Both are about “underdog” ecosystems, one cold, the other quite warm, both stressed by climate change, vulnerable to exploitation of their respective resources, and, as is sadly often the case, the people living there are marginalized by outside interests. Struzik presents a wide range of the challenges the Arctic is already facing, and what we need to be thinking about when planning for what lies ahead. Much is unknown about this part of the globe, and predicting how climate change will shape it, and the rest of the world as a result, is far from easy. However, some of the best science being conducted is helping us prepare, and when made as clear as it is in this book, there is no reason to not take seriously the knowledge and modeling that can help us prevent or minimize the effects of future disasters.

The Arctic has a fascinating biodiversity, given some natural history here. Large mammals include musk oxen and wood bison, caribou or reindeer, and the species that makes the best symbolization of the fate of the Arctic: polar bears. In the sea are narwhals, beluga and bowhead whales, though Orcas may be moving north. For fish, Pacific salmon species are also showing up where they have never been seen before, like the tropical fauna washing up on the continental U.S. west coast. Peregrine falcon chicks are freezing from the higher frequency of rainfall, and there are too many geese eating the hard-to-recover vegetation. With increases in hybridization, there is a need for genetic monitoring as ice melt and other habitat shifts bring species together after a long separation. Disease is taking a toll, and could get much worse, given the lack of immunity from similar previous isolation.

Included in the beginning of this book is a map that stands out for a few reasons. We are used to seeing the world map like a flattened orange peel. Here, the North Pole is at center, with Canada, Alaska, Russia and Scandinavia encircling. Not only is the view different, the names are – and they may remain so, but as territory “opens up,” international politics and boundaries will likely be more contested. The map is handy as a reference, since there are enormous areas that usually receive so little attention elsewhere. There are some places mentioned, though, that I couldn’t find. My point is that the map is another symbol of the future Arctic.

Lessons must be learned from mistakes made in other parts of the world, to prevent disasters like the potential for the biggest oil spill ever. Published only a year ago, this book will be an important guide for those with interests in this northern region. Already there are some significant changes, with Canada’s new Prime Minister dedicated to addressing climate change responsibly. President Obama has shared these concerns, and we can only hope that the U.S. will elect a new president who not only accepts the science but takes appropriate action. “Future Arctic” is a great primer on these truly global issues.

Note: I received this book courtesy of Island Press in exchange for an honest review. For more reviews, follow my blog at

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Reading Progress

March 7, 2016 – Shelved
March 21, 2016 – Started Reading
March 28, 2016 – Finished Reading

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