Sud­den Spring

Sto­ries of Adap­ta­tion in a Cli­mat­e­changed South

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Climate Change - BARRY SILVERSTEIN

Rick Van Noy, Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia Press (JAN­UARY) Hard­cover $32.95 (232pp), 978-0-8203-5436-1

Part of what makes Sud­den Spring so com­pelling is that Rick Van Noy is not a sci­en­tist who stud­ies cli­mate change; rather, he writes from the per­spec­tive of a cu­ri­ous, con­cerned cit­i­zen who wants to un­der­stand its im­pact. With a jour­nal­ist’s abil­ity to un­cover good sto­ries, Van Noy drives from one south­ern lo­cale to an­other, wit­ness­ing him­self what ris­ing sea lev­els and storms have wrought and in­ter­view­ing lo­cal of­fi­cials and res­i­dents to gain first­hand knowl­edge. This on-the-ground re­search lends an ex­cep­tional in­ti­macy to the book, bring­ing the reader close to some of the most frag­ile por­tions of the coun­try.

Many of the place names, in­clud­ing Charleston, Key West, New Or­leans, and Hous­ton, are sure to be fa­mil­iar, but even more strik­ing is the sim­i­lar­ity they all share in their need to adapt to a chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment. Through in­ter­views and per­sonal ob­ser­va­tions, Van Noy weaves a fore­bod­ing story about what is sure to oc­cur. Still, there’s a sense of hope that hu­man­ity will over­come the ap­par­ently in­evitable cat­a­strophic dis­as­ters.

As he con­sid­ers what he learned dur­ing his jour­ney, Van Noy ob­serves, “If we can rec­og­nize our role in creat­ing the change, we can come around to our part in the heal­ing, not just as in­di­vid­u­als but as cit­i­zens of a much larger com­mu­nity.”

The book de­politi­cizes cli­mate change, con­sid­er­ing in­stead what com­mu­ni­ties are do­ing to cope with dras­ti­cally chang­ing con­di­tions. It still ac­knowl­edges the po­lit­i­cal de­bate, but larger is­sues of re­silience, adap­ta­tion, and sur­vival are at the heart of Sud­den Spring, an elo­quent nar­ra­tive about what has be­come the most im­por­tant chal­lenge of our time.

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