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Craig Childs – “Apocalyptic Planet: A Field Guide to the Future of the Earth”


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Science writer Craig Childs travels the globe exploring the Earth’s strengths and frailties, and its never-ending cycles of cataclysmic change and renewal.

Are we facing the end of the world as we know it? If so, what will that end look like? Science writer and intrepid adventurer Craig Childs will contemplate some possible futures in his lecture “Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Future of the Earth” on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. in 182 Lillis Hall as the OHC’s 2013–14 Robert D. Clark Lecturer, and the second speaker in our “vulnerable” series.

Based on his many years of experience in the field, Childs asserts that this planet we call home is an unstable, constantly changing, and at times violent place to live. The Northridge, CA earthquake of 1994 brought this home to him in a visceral, deeply personal way, as he teetered about on the third floor of an apartment building in Pasadena as the 6.7 temblor jolted the floor beneath him. As Childs notes, “Humans may have a big hand in carpeting the atmosphere with heat-trapping gases and dumping every toxin we can imagine into waterways, but when the earth begins to roll, it is no longer our game.”

Childs traveled the globe, visiting some of Earth’s most remote and inhospitable places—including the driest deserts of Chile, the genetic wasteland of a cornfield in central Iowa, and the Greenland Ice Cap—and allowed the Earth to tell him some of its many stories of upheaval, change, and continual endings. Drawing upon geology, archaeology, biology, natural history, climate science, literary references, and personal reflections, Childs paints an engaging and evocative picture of the land beneath us, and the sixth mass extinction that scientists agree is underway.

Childs is a regular commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition, and the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed books, including Apocalyptic Planet—which won both the 2013 Orion Book Award and the 2013 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award—and The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild (2009). His work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Men’s Journal, Outside, and Orion. He is a contributing editor at High Country News, and he teaches writing at the University of Alaska in Anchorage, and at Southern New Hampshire University.