Earlier this year, Rolling Stone contributing editor and environmental journalist Jeff Goodell went on an extraordinary journey to Antarctica to learn how climate change is irrevocably changing our planet. Goodell traveled aboard the Nathanial B. Palmer ship for a two-month journey to the world’s coldest locations — Western Antarctica and the Thwaites Glacier — to further understand how the destabilization of the ice could lead to catastrophic floods around the world. Now, in a new audiobook, titled The Big Melt: A Journey to Antarctica’s Doomsday Glacier, listeners can hear his analysis of the effects of climate change.
Written and performed by Goodell, the audiobook also reveals the struggle scientists face as they attempt to deepen their understanding of the melting ice in hopes of staving off damage and slowing the process. “Climate scientists are talked about in the media as if they are some other species,” Goodell tells Rolling Stone. “But on this trip, I learned they are all too human, with very human fears and worries and aspirations.”
Roughly the size of Florida, the Thwaites ice shelf — also known as the Doomsday Glacier — is the tipping point in the global climate system. “If it collapses, it would destabilize the entire West Antarctic ice sheet,” he says. “Which could cause sea levels around the world to rise as much as 10 feet, essentially drowning every coastal city on the planet.”
Goodell’s story is a travelogue of one of Earth’s last unexplored places. “It’s about how it feels to cross some of the roughest seas in the world,” he says. “It’s about playing ping pong in the cargo hold, and meals in the mess hall, and our adventures tagging seals to turn them into underwater research assistants. It’s a story of science and adventure in the land of ice and ospreys, and about what it feels like to contemplate about the end of the world as we know it in the very place where the end of that world begins.”
The Big Melt was produced in partnership with Audible and Rolling Stone and is also part of Columbia Journalism Review‘s Covering Climate Change initiative. It’s currently available for purchase on Audible.