Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places
Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places

by Bill Streever

It has been said that feathers evolved first to protect birds from the cold, and later the birds realized or learned or somehow found out that feathers, managed in just the right way, would allow the convenience of flight. (p 135)

Bill Streever's book, Cold, is subtitled "Adventures in the World's Frozen Places". It read like a natural history of the climate of cold with almost everything you might want to know about cold from the scientific discovery of absolute zero to the development of high-tech clothing to augment if not surpass the use of nature's wool and fur to keep warm when it is cold. Using the calendar year - starting and ending in the summer - the author takes you on ever colder adventures and explorations of the nature and meaning of cold. He includes details of how animals cope with cold such as hibernation: what it is and how some animals use it while others use a variant of it to survive the cold of Winter.  His story is one that expands to include the way cold climate has shaped our planet and gave this reader pause to consider the massive forces that have been unleashed to raise and lower the earth's temperature over the millenia. Having grown up in an area of the Midwest United States whose contours were shaped by the last major ice age I found this book a fascinating education in who and what cold had effected elsewhere over history. Streever interlaces his personal adventures with natural history and science creating an educational and entertaining story of the continuing presence of cold in our lives.

Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places by Bill Streever. Little, Brown & Co. New York. 2009

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