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Peter G. Knight

A new book in preparation for 2015.
Scheduled for publication by Reaktion Books as part of their "Earth" series edited by Daniel Allen

As I write this book I'm blogging about it under the tag "reaktion glacier" at my WordPress Blog

There are many books on glaciers but most of them look at glaciers in the same way, focusing on glacier dynamics, climate change, physics, hydrology... at first glance it appears that the physical sciences have a virtual monopoly on the literature of glaciers. This new book steps back and takes a different point of view. Rather, it takes several different points of view. We look at important science topics such as the history of the ice ages, mechanisms of glacier motion, ways in which glaciers create landscapes, and the role of glaciers in the big global system of climate change and sea-level rise, but this is not enough. There is more to glaciers than just science.

There are many ways of looking at the world, and what we see depends partly on how we choose to look. The artist, the scientist, the politician, the engineer: we each have different points of view, and so we each see different things. Marcel Proust wrote that the only true voyage of discovery consists not in exploring new places but in seeing through new eyes, and in this book we will look at glaciers through different eyes: through the eyes of scientists, explorers, politicians, artists, poets and storytellers. We learn by seeing things in different contexts, from different perspectives.

To explore how glaciers inspire and affect people, this book considers glaciers both in nature and in culture. We look at how glaciers work, how they are intimately connected to climate and sea-level change, and how they threaten devastating hazards while creating some of the planet's most spectacular scenery. We also explore how glaciers have been witnessed, recorded, imagined and represented by artists of different types at different points in history, and how different cultures have regarded glaciers in very different ways.

From the Norse creation myth to the risk of 21st-century water-resource wars; from the 25,000 people killed by ice avalanches at Nevado Huascaran in Peru to the artist who connected a phoneline between a Venice art gallery and a melting glacier in Iceland; from Charles Darwin admitting he had been wrong about glaciers in the British landscape to the Canadian national stamp that was printed with a picture of the wrong mountain; from ice ages that happened before life on Earth to ice ages that will probably happen after life is gone: 'Glacier' is a wide-ranging and far-reaching story with implications for all of us.