Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Hole in the Wind: A Good Travelogue About a Climatologist's Journey Across America

Book Review: A Hole in the Wind by David Goodrich (2017)
Version: Hard cover borrowed from the library

It's hard to find a book about climate change that isn't either a book on science or a book on the debate. A Hole in the Wind by David Goodrich is a book by itself, which includes some science but is more about the effects of climate change seen firsthand from the seat of a bicycle along a 3,000-mile journey.

Goodrich has done bicycle journeys in his life across vast portions of America and in other parts of the world, but this journey in 2016 was his biggest. As a retired climate scientist, he took it as a challenge to see climate change from the ground as he crossed America from Delaware to Oregon, from the shores of the Atlantic to the shores of the Pacific. It took him more than 70 days to finish the trip, and along the way he witnessed the rise of the ocean that is washing away the channel islands on our East Coast, saw the ravages of the forests by increasing wildfires and infestations of beetles in the high country, the drying of the land and the aquifers in the Plains, and the eating away of the glaciers and the snow caps in the mountains. But that's just half of the story. He also met the people whose lives have been changed by climate change, some of whom acknowledged climate change and some of whom would rather not mention it.

A Hole in the Wind is a journey for the reader as well as for the writer. You will meet interesting people along the way, learn about the amazingly diverse dimensions of our country, and see for yourself how much bigger than individual places and individual weather events climate is. And you will come to see how even a 60-something retiree can master a demanding thousands-mile journey through heat and hills and hail to become a better, fitter person.

Goodrich tells a compelling story of his journey, not selling climate change but just explaining his observations and relating them to what he's learned as a climate scientist over the years. At the same time, he isn't judgmental of the people he meets nor the politics of climate science, whatever attitudes he has met along the way. His prose is well written and the pacing of his story is well organized, allowing you to visit the places and people and observations casually over his shoulder as if you, too, were on the journey. It's a nice read without the aches and pains of a long, hard pedal. His best prose comes with the elation of reaching the Pacific around page 206 to 208, almost poetic.

If you are at all curious about climate change, if you wonder about the real effects on human lives of climate change, if you want to know about it without the hype for it or against it, if you simply want a good travelogue about a journey across America, read A Hole in the Wind. It's a winner.

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