It’s a little icy – review of The Ice Age by Brian S John
I took a detour from my usual reading material and read The Ice Age: Past and Present (1977) by Brian S John (and in his own words) – it was on my bookshelf having arrived there due to a course I was teaching some years back. Not having read it then, I thought it might be worth a read now. And it wasn’t a disappoinment.
It provided a fascinating insight into glaciers and the behaviour of ice sheets and ice rivers etc. Brian’s style was accessible for non-specialists without dumbing down – snippets of humour feeding in appropriately and treating the ice as living. Photos although in black and white helped explain or show what he was talking about.
What was striking was the interconnectedness of life – not surprising really but reinforced, I suppose. The other thing was how old the world is and that man only seems to have been around for about 10,000 years. There is no way I could be an ice scientist or geologist as my concept of big numbers is non-existent and the numbers mentioned in The Ice Age are BIG.
Apart from ice, animals and man get a mention too. How the woolly mammoth came to be extinct is addressed as is the habitation of Greenland and Iceland which used to be farmland before a change in climate led to the Eskimos chasing the Nordik settlers off the land. Yes, there used to be vineyards on Greenland. I assume it’s now too cold for such fruit to grow. Migration is another theme – not just of ice but of man and animals.
And the hardiest survivors, or at least the hardiest surviving remains? – well the award for that goes to the beetle! And not just for the head, thorax and wings, but more specifically the genitalia which some or other professor has specialised in studying (‘with great passion’).
I’m probably not going to read too much more on this topic but it was a pleasant and eye-opening diversionary read, putting what I’ve seen of glaciers in Chile and Iceland into context, and it does somewhat put a damper on the whole climate change hysteria – although I’m all for us doing our bit to keep the planet going for as long as we can.
Brian John has a blog on Stonehenge and the Ice Age