The world’s ending – what’s new?

Craig Childs puts end of days in perspective in latest book

Craig Childs’ book events are much more than readings, with lots of visuals and hands-on demonstrations. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of J.T. Thomas/Craig Childs

Craig Childs’ book events are much more than readings, with lots of visuals and hands-on demonstrations.

If the world is, as the Mayans predicted, ending soon, author Craig Childs will take it in stride like all the other ends of the world that have befallen Earth in the last 4.6 billion or so years.

“The Earth is a storyteller and, in some places, it tells a story of the end,” Childs said of his latest book Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth.

Childs has a solid pedigree and a loyal following in Southwest Colorado.

He has made a literary career of writing about the American Southwest and his last two books, Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession and House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest are essentially local interest volumes. He is also a regular contributor on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

Childs isn’t your typical bookish type.

“He’s a great speaker and puts on a fabulous show,” said Libby Cowles, community relations manager at Maria’s Bookshop, which is sponsoring Childs’ appearance tonight at Durango Arts Center.

Childs will be in his element for his multimedia show about the global travels he made while researching Apocalyptic Planet. He traveled to places “where the Earth shows its most extreme sides.”

It took him from South America to Tibet to the American Heartland. Along the way, he witnessed firsthand the climatic and geological changes that have led to at least five incidents that resulted in the end of all life on Earth.

As Childs has learned, the sixth time will be another in the cycle, and there’s not much anyone can do about it.

“On this much, too, scientists agree: The sixth mass extinction is well underway,” Childs writes in his introduction.

Apocalyptic Planet may sound like the ultimate bummer, but for those of us who will likely outlive the next cataclysm (maybe), it’s a fascinating look into the not-to-distant future by examining the past and present.

Childs combines science and adventure and makes clear that Earth is not a stable planet. Volcanoes, earthquakes, deserts and rising waters are testament to that.

But he refutes the idea of an apocalyptic end to Earth, and he finds clues to the more inevitable end in some of the most physically challenging places on Earth.

“This is not a doomsday book,” Childs said. “It is about how this planet works, how easily and drastically it can change, and how we can understand our place in the midst of it.”

Enlarge photo

Pantheon Books