In the end, he argues, the only way Americans can compensate for their ancestors’ transgressions is to defy conventional political wisdom and allow this much-dammed and -diverted river to run free again. “There can surely be no greater crime against nature than to cause the death of a river,” he writes, “and no grander gesture of restitution than to facilitate its regeneration.”
Like “River Notes,” Craig Childs’s“Apocalyptic Planet” features vivid descriptions of the natural world around us. But Childs is less given to purple prose than Davis, using shorter, muscular phrases to depict scenes of the Earth in transition. And his global quest is wide-ranging, from Greenland’s glaciers and the tiny Alaskan Arctic village of Savoonga to the Sonoran Desert and Hawaii’s Manua Kea volcano.
What makes “Apocalyptic Planet” so engrossing, despite its dark subject, is Childs’s style. He is the best science writer I’ve come across in years, capable of not just capturing an image but doing it in a way that stays with you long afterward. The vividness starts with his description of a friend stepping out into Mexico’s desert: “Devin’s long spider legs pulled him out as he palmed the door frame and squinted into the turquoise sphere of an arid northwest Mexico sky.”