Always awe-inspiring, mountainous areas contain hundreds of millions of years of history, stretching back to the earliest continental landforms. This book shows how mountains are characterized by their distinctive geological, ecological, and biological conditions. Often, they are so large that they create their own weather patterns. They also store nearly one-third of the world’s freshwater—in the form of ice and snow—on their slopes. Despite their daunting size and often formidable climates, mountains are affected by growing local populations, as well as distant influences, such as air pollution and global climate change.
Three detailed case studies are presented. The first shows how global warming in East Africa is harming Mount Kenya’s regional population, which relies on mountain runoff to irrigate farms for subsistence crops. The second examines the fragile ecology of the South Island Mountain in New Zealand’s Southern Alps and how development threatens the region’s endemic plant and animal species. The third discusses the impact of mountain use over time in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, where management efforts have been used to limit the growing footprint of millions of annual visitors and alpine trekkers.
James Balliett graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, studying environmental issues and writing. His senior thesis was about a winter he spent on the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Two years later, he was awarded his masters of science degree in environmental studies from Antioch New England Graduate School.
His experiences include a project for the US Forest Service in southeast Alaska, work for the harbormaster in Chatham, Massachusetts, and as a natural resource officer in Barnstable, Massachusetts where he helped manage a piping plover colony. While living in Burlington, Vermont, Balliett was a reporter for the Burlington Free Press and worked at the Chamber of Commerce where he directed their government affairs office. While living in Colorado's front range, he served as an advocacy manager for Housing Colorado. He currently resides on Cape Cod and writes for the Cape Codder Newspaper, covering a range of community, environmental, and business news. His five environmental science books (mountains, forests, wetlands, freshwater, and oceans) make up a set on Environmental Issues, Global Perspectives.