DiggingHand.jpg
IMGP7474.JPG
IMGP0211.JPG
KunzangHearth.jpg
StovepipeEverest.jpg
IMGP5334.JPG
IMGP3214.JPG
IMGP3238.JPG
IMGP5485.JPG
IMGP7487.JPG
DiggingHand.jpg

Book Intro


Fire and Ice
Soot, Solidarity, and Survival on the Roof of the World

SCROLL DOWN

Book Intro


Fire and Ice
Soot, Solidarity, and Survival on the Roof of the World

Listen to Jonathan Mingle discuss black carbon and Fire and Ice on Vermont Public Radio.
And read an interview with Earthjustice about soot's health and climate impacts, encouraging trends in clean energy access, and the power of solidarity.
     

        REVIEWS:

Fire and Ice is top-notch on the ground reporting on one more piece of the global environmental puzzle—a particularly tragic piece, and one that we should work hard to solve for so many profound reasons.”
— Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home
"...a hefty, highly accessible work of environmental journalism... (Mingle has) a knack for using lively, particularistic storytelling to make science more accessible. In Fire and Ice, each heady discussion of figures and formulas is counterbalanced by vivid anecdotes of daily life."  
Seven Days
Fire and Ice is a lyrical tale about life in the coldest places at a time when the earth itself is warming. Author Jonathan Mingle takes the reader to a hearth in the high Himalaya, to join one community within one ancient culture as its citizens respond to climate change. The villagers' story, not to mention the soot from their cookstoves, resounds through the mountains and encircles the world.
— Dava Sobel, author of Longitude, Galileo's Daughter, and The Planets
Fire and Ice wonderfully captures the human face of the impact of traditional cooking fires and fuels on the lives of individuals, made vibrant in this environmental travelogue that encompasses and connects the lives of villagers in a remote Himalayan village, to scientists, political officials and policy makers stretching from New Delhi to startup dot.com companies to the negotiating chambers of the United Nations.”
— Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy, University of California, Berkeley
“To the unfolding drama of climate change Jonathan Mingle brings something new to worry about — black carbon, the tiny particles from a billion cooking fires that absorb the sun’s heat and are melting the great glaciers in the Himalayas which regulate the water flow in the mighty rivers that feed half of Asia. Mingle’s marvelous and original book, Fire and Ice, is no gloomy tale but a story of intellectual, scientific and human adventure among the Zanskaris on the roof of the world, where Mingle unfolds the beautiful simplicity of the problem, and of what to do about it.”
— Thomas Powers, author of The Killing of Crazy Horse and Heisenberg’s War
“(Mingle’s) narrative humanizes the casualties—from drought-stricken California farmers to Himalayan families losing their water sources—and makes a compelling case for how we can clear our skies.”
Mother Jones
 
 
IMGP7474.JPG

Kumik


THIS IS THE STORY OF Kumik,

a village high in the Indian Himalaya, as remote as the legendary Shangri-La.

Long sustained by runoff from glaciers and lofty snowfields, Kumik’s thirty-nine households have survived and thrived in the Zanskar Valley, one of the world’s most challenging places to live, for a thousand years...

 

Kumik


THIS IS THE STORY OF Kumik,

a village high in the Indian Himalaya, as remote as the legendary Shangri-La.

Long sustained by runoff from glaciers and lofty snowfields, Kumik’s thirty-nine households have survived and thrived in the Zanskar Valley, one of the world’s most challenging places to live, for a thousand years...

 

IMGP0211.JPG

Leaving Home


 

 

... but now, in the grips of chronic drought, the villagers have decided to leave their ancient homes, and start over.

 

 

 

Leaving Home


 

 

... but now, in the grips of chronic drought, the villagers have decided to leave their ancient homes, and start over.

 

 

 

KunzangHearth.jpg

Black Carbon and Health


THIS IS THE STORY OF BLACK CARBON,

the most dangerous pollutant you’ve never heard of.

These dark particles—emitted by inefficient fires from New York to Nepal—are a primary ingredient of the air pollution that kills over seven million people around the world every year...

Black Carbon and Health


THIS IS THE STORY OF BLACK CARBON,

the most dangerous pollutant you’ve never heard of.

These dark particles—emitted by inefficient fires from New York to Nepal—are a primary ingredient of the air pollution that kills over seven million people around the world every year...

StovepipeEverest.jpg

Black Carbon and Climate


...and black carbon is the second largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide, and possibly the most potent factor tipping the glaciers of the Himalaya and the ice sheets of the High Arctic into accelerating decline.

Black Carbon and Climate


...and black carbon is the second largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide, and possibly the most potent factor tipping the glaciers of the Himalaya and the ice sheets of the High Arctic into accelerating decline.

IMGP5334.JPG

Solutions


THIS IS THE STORY OF SOLUTIONS

to the most pressing, intertwined challenges of our time: averting climate chaos, while lifting billions out of energy poverty and water scarcity.

Solutions


THIS IS THE STORY OF SOLUTIONS

to the most pressing, intertwined challenges of our time: averting climate chaos, while lifting billions out of energy poverty and water scarcity.

IMGP3214.JPG

Solidarity


The stories of black carbon and Kumik come together in Fire and Ice, which traces black carbon’s dark fingerprints in Zanskar, and around the world.

Combining cultural history, detailed reportage, climate and combustion science, and the dramatic account of one village’s collective journey of imagination and resilience, Fire and Ice investigates an unlikely source of light on a darkening horizon—reminding us what we can all accomplish when we come together, and get down to work.

Solidarity


The stories of black carbon and Kumik come together in Fire and Ice, which traces black carbon’s dark fingerprints in Zanskar, and around the world.

Combining cultural history, detailed reportage, climate and combustion science, and the dramatic account of one village’s collective journey of imagination and resilience, Fire and Ice investigates an unlikely source of light on a darkening horizon—reminding us what we can all accomplish when we come together, and get down to work.

IMGP3238.JPG

Survival


Can Kumik’s people come together to reinvent fire, harness what remains of their life-sustaining ice, and reinvigorate their traditions of solidarity, in time to save themselves?

Can the rest of us rise to the same challenge?

Fire and Ice connects these questions with the work of enterprising scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and activists around the world, in a narrative that combines mythology, reason, humor, persistence, and hope in a race against a global clock.

Survival


Can Kumik’s people come together to reinvent fire, harness what remains of their life-sustaining ice, and reinvigorate their traditions of solidarity, in time to save themselves?

Can the rest of us rise to the same challenge?

Fire and Ice connects these questions with the work of enterprising scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and activists around the world, in a narrative that combines mythology, reason, humor, persistence, and hope in a race against a global clock.

IMGP5485.JPG

Excerpt


Excerpt


Excerpt from FIRE AND ICE

 

If you were making a movie about life in the Himalaya, seeking a setting that shouts pastoral harmony, at first glance you might be inclined to film it in Kumik. On the surface, at least, Kumik is a little Himalayan Arcadia, a comely oasis in the sparsely populated, arid mountain reaches of northwest India.

Its thirty-nine whitewashed mud homes cascade down a southwest-facing hillside that overlooks sun-kissed terrace fields of barley laced with intricate irrigation canals and interspersed with groves of swaying poplars and willows, which the Kumikpas coppice for saplings and ceiling materials. Several ranthaks, elegant water-powered grain mills, turn roasted barley into flour, the centerpiece of the Zanskari diet. A hanging glacier caps Sultan Largo, which towers above the phu, the high pastures where animals graze in the summer. Laughing children race up and down the narrow footpaths, past amiable grandfathers spinning prayer wheels and grandmothers doing clockwise skoras around the small lhakhang temple. Even the acrid smoke that wafts down the alleys has a cheering tang, conjuring the hidden warmth of dung-fired hearths. And if you crouch down on a summer evening among the ripening barley up on the ridge above the lhakhang, as the children skip and shout to greet the return of the rarzepa, the shepherd of the day, with every house hold’s sheep and goats, and you listen to the stalks rustle and rub against each other, with a sound like spreading rumors — a shimmery whisper of snowmelt transmuted into life — well, all talk of crisis and catastrophe seems ridiculous. Crazy Chicken Little stuff. After all, Kumik is thought to be the oldest village in Zanskar, one of the highest, most remote, permanently inhabited places on the planet. The Kumikpas seem to have life in the rain shadow pretty well figured out.

Yet the Kumikpas are busily preparing to abandon it all.

Four years earlier and just a stone’s throw from the scene of the argument, I had stood next to Tashi Stobdan outside of his stately, squat mud brick home, as the symmetry of these two facts struck him with full force:

“Kumik was the first village in Zanskar— and now it is the first to be destroyed!”

 

 
IMGP7487.JPG

Author


Jonathan Mingle’s writing on the environment, climate and development has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, The Boston Globe, and other publications.

About the Author

Author


Jonathan Mingle’s writing on the environment, climate and development has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, The Boston Globe, and other publications.

About the Author