The Last Winter

by Porter Fox

Published by Little, Brown on November 2, 2021


“Winter is not a weather event.  It is, in part, the result of an ancient astronomical collision.”

Porter Fox loves winter and skiing has been a major part of his life.  He wants to ensure that his children will be able to experience winter throughout their lifetime.  He’s not sure that will be possible and sets out to investigate. 

Fox’s book is sometimes labeled as a travel adventure.  He does take us along on a journey.  Each section describes his personal exploration to understand the evolving climate’s impact on winter.  To learn what is happening and why, Porter interviews geologists, glaciologists, indigenous people, and others who have specialized knowledge or affection for snow and ice.  These are not mere conversations in brightly-lit labs and cozy restaurants.  Instead, Fox joins the experts in the field and participates in their studies.  

As Fox works with the field teams, they explain why the loss of winter will increase forest fires, flood coastlines, and will create other disasters.  More impactful than reporting just the data, these teams are involved in monumental efforts to document and communicate their findings.  Fox conveys their concern, their haste, and their determination.  Even for someone reasonably aware of the looming climate disaster, Fox’s findings add to the distress.  

Despite this, the deft prose carries you forward. The writing is strong in part because of its honesty and vulnerability. He speaks a truth that we know in our hearts but somehow we cannot face.

“It was pleasant on the plane.  Warm.  Safe-feeling, even.  The sedating effect of modern convenience made it seem like everything was going to be all right, like someone would figure everything out…Maybe there would be a technological Hail Mary…Maybe the planet would mend itself…That would be nice, I thought.  Then I reached for the screen and searched for a movie, a football game, a comedy, any possible distraction.”

Climate change is a frequent topic in the news these days, as it should be.  Unfortunately, for many audiences, the realities of climate change seem distant, both in where it is happening as well as when it will occur.   Fox shows that climate change is real, it is now, and the consequences impact all of us.  Whether we like winter or not, we need it and so do our children.


Why you should not miss this one:

  • Real people, real stories, real impact
  • Porter Fox’s writing feels like he is speaking directly to you, almost as if he is sometimes breaking the fourth wall
  • This will likely become a classic in environmentalism literature

Thanks to NetGalley, Little, Brown, and the author, Porter Fox, for the opportunity to read a digital copy in exchange for this review.   

#NetGalley  #TheLastWinter @PorterFox

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