A History and a Future of Environmental Disaster

Jay Owens


This book shows that dust is a profound threat to life in the twenty-first century. And yet it’s something we hardly ever consider – so small and mundane as to slip below the threshold of thought.

From the American Dust Bowl of the 1920s to the Greenland ice sheets today, via the dusty sea bed of the now-dry Aral Sea in Uzbekistan and the nuclear fallout of Chernobyl, Dust explores the changes in science, climate, and geopolitics that shape our modern world – and share a commonality: dust.

Its describes the people who have to live in these dusty landscapes – and the people restoring them and making things better. It shows how we got to the current precipice of history – and explores how we may have a better future.

With vivid, on-the-ground reportage mixed with fascinating stories from history and the cutting edge of climate change prevention, Dust showcases how something so small can do so much more than we think. It is nothing less than a hidden counter-history of modernity.


“Unmistakably a major book in the making… this is a book with an extraordinary global story to tell, but also a vitally important ethical argument to advance.” – ROBERT MACFARLANE