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review 2020-03-20 08:16
The Path of the Pole by Charles H. Hapgood
The Path of the Pole: Cataclysmic Poleshift Geology - Charles H. Hapgood

TITLE: The Path of the Pole


AUTHOR:  Charles H. Hapgood


DATE PUBLISHED:  1958, republished 1999


FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  9780932813718



Hapgood's tour de force is back in print! This riveting account of how earth's poles have flipped positions many times is the culmination of Hapgood's extensive research of Antarctica, ancient maps and the geological record. This amazing book discusses the various pole shifts in earth's history -- occurring when earth's crust slips in the inner core -- and gives evidence for each one. It also predicts future pole shifts: a planetary alignment will cause the next one on 5 May 2000! Packed with illustrations, this book is the reference other books on the subject cite over and over again. With millennium madness in full swing, this is just the book to generate even more excitement at the unknown possibilities.




Easy to understand hypothesis of pole shifts, the effect of such a pole shift and the resulting evidence.  Interesting and definitely provides food for thought.





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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-07-05 10:33
Extinction by Douglas H. Erwin
Extinction: How Life on Earth Nearly Ended 250 Million Years Ago - Douglas H. Erwin

TITLE: Extinction: How Life on Earth Nearly Ended 250 Million Years Ago


AUTHOR:  Douglas H. Erwin


DATE PUBLISHED:  2015 Updated Edition - New Preface (first publication 2006)


FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  9780691165653




"Some 250 million years ago, the earth suffered the greatest biological crisis in its history. Around 95 percent of all living species died out--a global catastrophe far greater than the dinosaurs' demise 185 million years later. How this happened remains a mystery. But there are many competing theories. Some blame huge volcanic eruptions that covered an area as large as the continental United States; others argue for sudden changes in ocean levels and chemistry, including burps of methane gas; and still others cite the impact of an extraterrestrial object, similar to what caused the dinosaurs' extinction.

Extinction is a paleontological mystery story. Here, the world's foremost authority on the subject provides a fascinating overview of the evidence for and against a whole host of hypotheses concerning this cataclysmic event that unfolded at the end of the Permian.

After setting the scene, Erwin introduces the suite of possible perpetrators and the types of evidence paleontologists seek. He then unveils the actual evidence--moving from China, where much of the best evidence is found; to a look at extinction in the oceans; to the extraordinary fossil animals of the Karoo Desert of South Africa. Erwin reviews the evidence for each of the hypotheses before presenting his own view of what happened.

Although full recovery took tens of millions of years, this most massive of mass extinctions was a powerful creative force, setting the stage for the development of the world as we know it today.

In a new preface, Douglas Erwin assesses developments in the field since the book's initial publication."







Erwin provides us with an entertaining, informative and somewhat technical "whodunit" detective story, examining the "culprits" that may be responsible for the end-Permian mass extinction.  The author examines the various geological and paleontological evidence for what happened, when and what effects this may have had; and then tries to piece together which of several hypotheses are the more likely culprites of the extinction and which are just effects. 


The six major hypotheses that show some supporting data, and which Erwin focuses on, are as follows:

(1) an extraterrestrial impact of the some sort;

(2) extensive volcanism that produced the Siberian flood basalts (possibly triggered by an extraterrestrial impact), that radically changed the global climate and geochemistry;

(3) continental drift (plate tectonics) with the formation of Pangaea that caused an extensive reduction in biome types;

(4) extensive glaciation that caused a combination of global cooling and a drop in sea levels;

(5) a decrease in oxygen in shallow and deep seas due to one of several possible causes; and

(6) the "Murder on the Orient Express" hypothesis suggesting that a combination of several or all of the other already described events occurred nearly simultaneously


Erwin very helpfully comments on the strenght or weaknesses of the various hypotheses, and finally provides his conclusion based on the evidence.  Erwin also takes a look at the recovery of organisms AFTER the extinction, which is something few authors do.  However, the book was originally published in 2006, so some of this information is outdated or been superseededby additional information.  Erwin does discuss the new findings in his 2015 preface, for an up-to-date examination of the end Pemian extinction.  Despite new research into this topic, it seems like the author's "Murder on the Orient Express" hypotheses, where a variety of factors are responsible for the mass extinction, still seems to be valid.



Other useful books:


-When Life Nearly Died:  The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time by Michael J. Benton

-The Worst of Times:  How Life on Earth Survived Eighty Million Years of Extinctions by Paul B. Wignall

-Life on a Young Planet:  The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth by Andrew H. Knoll

-The Goldilocks Planet:  The Four Billion Year Story of Earth's Climate by Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams

-The Ends of the World:  Supervolcanoes, Lethal Oceans, and the Search for Past Apocalypses by Peter Brannen

-The Emerald Planet:  How Plants Changed Earth's History by David Beerling





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review 2018-10-01 07:42
Growing a Revolution by David R. Montgomery
Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life - David Montgomery

TITLE:  Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life


AUTHOR:  David R. Montgomery




FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  9780393356090



"For centuries, agricultural practices have eroded the soil that farming depends on, stripping it of the organic matter vital to its productivity. Now conventional agriculture is threatening disaster for the world’s growing population. In Growing a Revolution, geologist David R. Montgomery travels the world, meeting farmers at the forefront of an agricultural movement to restore soil health. From Kansas to Ghana, he sees why adopting the three tenets of conservation agriculture—ditching the plow, planting cover crops, and growing a diversity of crops—is the solution. When farmers restore fertility to the land, this helps feed the world, cool the planet, reduce pollution, and return profitability to family farms."



In this book, we follow the author on an investigation of various agricultural methods all over the globe to see what works and which methods rejuvinate depleted soils.  This is a rather pleasant book to read - no doom and gloom.  The author is optimistic about humanity's ability to feed itself provided the methods described in this book are followed.  No fancy technology or equipment is necessary.  It doesn't matter if you are an organic produce farmer or a conventional farmer, farm with animals or plants, have a huge farm in the USA or a small family farm in Africa, the principles described in this book make farming profitable, improve the soil, reduce erosion, retain water, minimize weeds, reduce input costs in terms of fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide.  These principles can in all likelihood be modified to the home garden too.

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review 2018-08-09 15:59
The Earth by Richard Fortey
The Earth: An Intimate History - Richard Fortey

TITLE:  The Earth:  An Intimate History


AUTHOR:  Richard Fortey




FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  978-0-00-655137-9




"This is the life story of our planet - told by one of our most brilliant science writers.  With Richard Fortey as our guide we not only travel back through geological time to discover the planet's spectacular past, but also climb the Alps, wallow in Icelandic hot springs and walk through the luch ecosystems of Hawaii.  On the way we discover the awesome truth about the world we inhabit - from Los Angeles life to statues of the Buddha; from the slow crawl of stained glass to the history of the dollar."


This book is an informative but rather rambling mix of geology and travel writing.  The book revolves around the various facets of plate tectonics, how each piece  of the theory was puzzled out and how those pieces fit together to give us the Earth we have today.   Fortey uses examples from all over the world to illustrate the various geological processes. Everything from fault lines, development of mountain ranges and oceans, subduction zones, volcanoes, earthquakessupercontinents, the Earth's interior, mining, minerals and gems, as well as a bit of ecology are covered.  Fortey also emphasizes how the geology and geomorphology of a specific area has shaped ethinic culture and human experiences.  The author is enthusiastic about his subject.  The wirting is poetic and colourful, often dramatic, though sometimes a bit long-winded.  The book contains photographs but is in desperate need of illustrations and diagrams of the various processes discussed.  An interesting book for the intelligent layreader, who isn't afraid of a few technical terms.




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review 2018-06-21 07:03
Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean by Jonathan White
Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean - Jonathan White,Peter Matthiessen

TITLE:   Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean


AUTHOR:  Jonathan White




FORMAT:  ebook


ISBN-13:  978-1-59534-806-7



NOTE:  I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.  This review is my honest opinion of the book.




Jonathan White is a sailor, surfer, writer, and active marine conservationist who takes his readers on an adventure around the world to discover the science and spirit of ocean tides.


Some of the fascinating topics covered in this book include tidal bores, tidal anomalies, the difference between spring and neap tides, the science and history of forecasting tides, resonance, geophysics, the different methods of harvesting energy from the ocean, and a rather poor attempt to describe the effects of rising tides on civilization. 


The author provides a superficial explanation of tidal mechanics – I really was looking for more information on this, especially in a book subtitled “the science and spirit of the ocean”.  The “spirit” part of the subtitle takes over the book in terms of personal anecdotes, “travel writing”, tangential stories and philosophical musings that didn’t particularly appeal to me. 


The book was also arranged in an odd manner by explaining specific tidal anomalies before explaining tides in general.  Trying to sift the interesting scientific information out of all the extraneous text didn’t help with the conveyance of information.  However, the book does provide numerous black & white photographs, explanatory diagrams and sixteen colour photographs.


If you want to know more about tides and like personal, chatty stories mixed with your science, then you will probably enjoy this book.  If you want more science and less “fluff”, you need to look elsewhere.









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