While Glaciers Slept weaves together the parallel stories of what happens when the climates of a family and a planet change. M Jackson, a noted scientist and National Geographic Expert, reveals how these events are deeply intertwined, and how the deterioration of her parents' health was as devastating as the inexorable changing of Earth's climate.
Jackson poses a stark question: if losing one's parents is so devastating, how can we survive the destruction of the planet that sustains us? Jackson draws both literal and metaphorical parallels between the degradation of the climate and her parents' struggles with cancer. Nonetheless, Jackson shows that even in the darkest of times we cannot lose hope. Jackson guides us to solar, wind, and geothermal solutions, bringing us along on her expeditions to research climate change and to educate people about how to stop it.
Scientists are continually looking for better ways to translate hard science into human language and that is precisely what this book does. While Glaciers Slept shows us that the story of one family can be the story of one planet, and that climate change has a human face. Climate change, she convinces us, is not just about science – it is also about the audacity of human courage and imagination.
"M Jackson does an intriguing job of weaving together observations about human health and frailty with global biospheric health and frailty. Her narrative brings climate change down from an abstract global scale to a very personal human scale. Particularly engaging for the non-scientist reader."
– Dr. Steve Running, Nobel Prize winner and American's foremost expert on climate change
"Climate change is many things, including an upheaval – sudden and violent – in the life of our planet. As such, it unleashes feelings and forces like those in a family when someone dies. This is a profound way of thinking about where we are right now, and what we better do about it."
– Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and author of Eaarth and The End of Nature
"If you've known hard grief and loss, you will understand this book. If you have hope or the wish for it, this book will shore you up. While Glaciers Slept tells a story of devotion and survival as it examines the ongoing global crisis of climate change. M Jackson is a naturalist, a teacher, and a daughter who mourns her mother's death as she discovers and explores the best choice, the only true choice ahead – a path of hope and action for ourselves and the living planet that birthed us all."
– Phil Condon, author of Montana Surround, Clay Center, and Nine Ten Again
"The literary fabric of M Jackson's While Glaciers Slept comprises two strands intricately and intimately braided together. One is her engagement in a family journey through accident and disease that inflict pain and ultimately death on her parents. The second strand is also one of inflicted pain, but at a planetary scale – the degradation of Earth itself by its human inhabitants. M moves almost effortlessly from loss of limb to loss of ice, from prosthetics to a planetary parasol. The intertwining of the two strands creates a powerful narrative of humanity, singly and in the multitudes."
– Henry Pollack, author of A World Without Ice and a winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change
"As the poet Tony Hoagland has pointed out, most of us ' [...] walk like zombies through our burning dying world [...] ' Not so M Jackson, who moves through the world very much aware of both the little and individually important things, such as family, while simultaneously perceiving and understanding the catastrophe that is happening all around us. In While Glaciers Slept, she links the one to the other in a flawless and brilliant way. This is superb."
– Carlos Martinez, author of The Cold Music of the Ocean and The Raw Silk of the Dark
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M Jackson is an adventurer and environmental educator pursuing a doctorate in geography and Earth science at the University of Oregon, where she is researching glaciers and climate change in the Arctic. A veteran U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Turkey and Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia, M holds a Masters of Science degree from the University of Montana, where she focused on climate change and Alaskan glaciers. She currently is an Arctic Expert for National Geographic Expeditions and is at work on her second book.
Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist. His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. He is founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement. The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities; Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world's 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was "probably America's most important environmentalist." A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife.