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A longtime backpacker, climber, and skier, Michael Lanza knows the United States’ national parks like the back of his hand. As a father, he hopes to share these places with his two young children. But he has seen firsthand the changes wrought by the warming climate and understands what lies ahead: Alaska’s tidewater glaciers are rapidly retreating, and the abundant sea life in their shadow departs with them. Encroaching tides threaten beloved wilderness coasts like Washington’s Olympic and Florida’s Everglades. Less snowfall and hotter summers will diminish Yosemite’s world-famous waterfalls. And it is predicted that Glacier National Park’s 7,000-year-old glaciers will be gone in a decade.
To Lanza, it feels like the house he grew up in is being looted. Painfully aware of the ecological–and spiritual–calamity that global warming will bring to the nation’s parks, Lanza sets out to show his children these wonders before they have changed forever.
He takes his nine-year-old son, Nate, and seven-year-old daughter, Alex, on an ambitious journey to see as many climate-threatened wild places as he can fit into a year: backpacking in the Grand Canyon, Glacier, the North Cascades, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and along the wild Olympic coast; sea kayaking in Alaska’s Glacier Bay; hiking to Yosemite’s waterfalls; rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park; cross-country skiing in Yellowstone; and canoeing in the Everglades.
Through these adventures, Lanza shares the beauty of each place and shows how his children connect with nature when given “unscripted” time. Ultimately, he writes, this is more their story than his, for whatever comes of our changing world, they are the ones who will live in it.
“A beautifully written, moving meditation.”–Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle
“This is a terrific blend of adventure...and ecological forecasting (and forewarning) that aptly conveys the passion of a devoted outdoorsman, and serves as a wake-up call to the state of our planet.”–Publishers Weekly
“Intriguing premise; decent execution–certainly of interest to environmentalists and other eco-minded readers.”–Kirkus Review
“Michael Lanza braids a story of family, wilderness, and climate that's at once heartwarming and terrifying. I envy his kids for the incredible year they spent exploring America's finest wild places. And I mourn that they–and my own daughter–will have to endure the devastating consequences of our heating planet. Lanza makes abundantly clear that our children deserve better than the legacy we’re leaving them.”–John Harlin, author of The Eiger Obsession: Facing the Mountain that Killed My Father
“I grew up in a national park, worked in twelve others and have visited well over two hundred of them. Their values, for people like me, often are taken for granted. In this wonderful book, Michael Lanza’s children learn and experience what is most important about our national parks — the necessity to leave them ‘unimpaired for future generations’ — and why.”–Bill Wade, Chair, Executive Council, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees and former superintendent of Shenandoah National Park
“Delightful … a fresh and engaging way to tell the climate change story.”–Laura Helmuth, senior science editor, Smithsonian