Friday, July 29, 2005

Marla Cone Book On Arctic Gets Good Review In "Nature"

Written from China Poot Bay, Alaska--

Sitting at dinner in a wilderness lodge, one of the other guests told me he had an article from the journal, "Nature," on Marla Cone's book, "Silent Snow; The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic." And he loaned it to me for the evening.

I'm glad to see Cone, who I've always had a high opinion of, got such a markedly friendly article in a tough-minded scientific magazine, and that her book will apparently have quite a bit of impact.

There's a great deal of talk here in Alaska about global warming and its effects, but less talk about the subject Cone has written about -- the collection of pollutants in the Arctic, slowly contaminating the traditional diet of the Eskimos and other Arctic residents.This phenomenon could also one day kill off the polar bear, a topic the Anchorage newspaper has given front page coverage to while I've been in the state.

It shows how important it is for a newspaper like the L.A. Times to make the kind of special assignment that allowed Cone over a protracted period to research this topic.

It's worth continuing her assignment. The Nature article suggests Cone should also have interviewed native Siberians who also face these problems.

And, coincidentally, my own trip is headed north toward the Arctic starting tomorrow. First, I'm going to Anchorage for the weekend, then on to a wilderness camp in Denali, then to Fairbanks and then to Barrow, at least briefly. Just in time too. Barrow will see the first sunset since May next week, and it will shortly turn colder there.

"Nature" says, "Silent Snow" is an important book that should be read by environmentalists, scientists, politicians and the public. The environmental problem of manmade chemicals, addressed in this and previous books, should send a clear message to this and the rest of the world."

I was proud to tell the other guest I knew Cone and that she was a thoroughly admirable person.


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