Monday, 31 January 2011

NATURAL WORLD REVIEW: Ice Bear: A Natural and Unnatural History in Three Acts - Kieran Mulvaney

Release Date: 06/01/11


The polar bear is one of the most recognisable animals on the planet. Yet if global warming continues at its present pace, summer sea ice could disappear entirely from the Arctic Ocean by the year 2040. Polar bears could be extinct within a generation.

Ice Bear is the definitive account of an iconic species: its life, its past, and its uncertain future. These beautiful bears are creatures of paradox: Arctic residents whose major problem is not staying warm, but keeping cool. Officially classed as marine mammals, they are the world’s largest land carnivores. They begin life in a snowdrift; at birth they weigh just twenty ounces. Fully grown, they become massive predators that can walk almost silently, ten feet in length and close to 2,000 pounds. Wandering thousands of miles over the course of a year, they are, above all, creatures of the ice. Without sea ice and the life it supports, polar bears cannot survive.

Kieran Mulvaney is an expert on the Polar regions who has led three expeditions to the Arctic as well as Project Thin Ice 2006: Save the Polar Bear - the successful first attempt to reach the North Pole in summer and draw attention to the impact of climate change on polar bears. This book blends natural and human history, myth and reality with scientific and personal observation, to tell the story of these remarkable animals, the region in which they dwell, and the rapid changes overtaking planet Earth.


This is a book that I’ve been looking forward to for the best part of 18 months. Alas due to delays it’s been a long wait and whilst its finally arrived, I’d almost wished that it hadn’t as it’s a wake-up call to the world to help save an endangered species now rather than waiting for its painful demise as the Arctic Ice caps melt. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with this book but when such beautiful creatures are on the verge of disappearing within many peoples memory due to mankind’s selfishness then it’s time to stand up and be counted.

The book is wonderfully written as the author takes the reader on a journey to the Arctic Circle in order to allow us to see this impressive creature (10ft in height and 2000 pounds in weight) in all its glory and whilst we can revel in its majesty we have to remember exactly what these mammals are capable of. Add to this an informed well-spoken voice to help carry this title through which when backed with an almost travel journal vocal style allows the reader easy access to this elusive creature. Let their voices be heard before the we’re only left with an echo as they’ve gone the way of the Dodo.

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