Female; children: two. Education: Trinity College, University of Toronto, degree (cum laude); Ryerson University, B.A.A.; studied at Green College, Oxford University.
Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Key Porter Books, 6 Adelaide St. E., 10th Fl., Toronto, Ontario M5C 1H6, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
Journalist and writer. Financial Post, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, journalist for three years; Globe and Mail, Toronto, journalist for fourteen years; International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, strategic communications expert.
Named Best Environmental Reporter in the World, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and Reuters Foundation, 2000, for report on the vanishing forests of Madagascar; Best Environmental Reporting in North America and Oceania, World Conservation Union, 2000, 2001; named one of five best nonfiction books in Canada, Quill & Quire, 2004, for Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World's Environmental Hotspots; Canadian Policy Research Media Award.
Alanna Mitchell is a journalist and writer who specializes in environmental conservation efforts. In 2000 Mitchell was named the best environmental reporter in the world by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and the Reuters Foundation for her report on Madagascar's vanishing forests. This award led to a term of study at Green College, Oxford University, where she began the preliminary work for what became her first book, Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World's Environmental Hotspots.
Dancing at the Dead Sea details eight environmental "hotspots," or places where the ecology is rapidly declining. Some of the hotspots include the Arctic Circle, where global warming is having a visible effect, and Jordan, where the Azraq Oasis is disappearing due to water diversion. Mitchell also gives examples of areas that have been successful in preserving their environments, such as the South American country of Suriname, which has saved ninety percent of its rainforest, and Iceland, where they are using geothermal energy to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels. Mitchell explains that human beings are not exempt from extinction, and if preservation efforts are not taken seriously, a mass species extinction is inevitable. Mitchell reached these conclusions with the help of scientists, researchers, locals, and conservationists—all of whom she consulted about the future of the planet.
Dancing at the Dead Sea elicited mostly positive reviews. Karen B. Strier, writing in the Quarterly Review of Biology, remarked that the book is "part travelogue, part science, part personal odyssey. Mitchell describes in exquisite prose what she sees, hears, and smells, as well as what she wonders about and learns." Geographical reviewer Mark Lynas agreed, observing that Mitchell writes "with the breathless air of a wide-eyed teenager discovering the world for the first time." However, Keith Kloor, reviewing the book for Audubon, felt that "in the book's least engaging parts, [Mitchell] blames overpopulation and overconsumption in a preachy, finger-waving manner," but concluded that "if you can abide the occasional lecture, it's worth the ride." Other reviewers felt differently, however, including Booklist contributor Rebecca Maksel who noted, "Well written and inspiring, these essays should help awaken environmental awareness," and Canadian Book Review Annual critic Alexander Craig, who concluded, "Mitchell's thought-provoking book is both a tour de force and a quest for hope."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Audubon, May-June, 2005, Keith Kloor, review of Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World's Environmental Hotspots, p. 76.
Booklist, May 1, 2005, Rebecca Maksel, review of Dancing at the Dead Sea, p. 1553.
Canadian Book Review Annual, 2004, Alexander Craig, review of Dancing at the Dead Sea, p. 441.
Geographical, August, 2005, Mark Lynas, review of Dancing at the Dead Sea, p. 84.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), April 17, 2004, Andrew Nikiforuk, "Homo Sapiens: Hurtling toward Suicide," review of Dancing at the Dead Sea, p. D10.
Library Journal, June 1, 2005, April Brazill, review of Dancing at the Dead Sea, p. 168.
Publishers Weekly, April 18, 2005, review of Dancing at the Dead Sea, p. 55.
Quarterly Review of Biology, March, 2006, Karen B. Strier, review of Dancing at the Dead Sea, p. 78.
Science News, July 23, 2005, review of Dancing at the Dead Sea, p. 63.
International Institute for Sustainable Development Web site,http://www.iisd.org/ (June 20, 2006), author profile.