I got Footprints in part because my daughter is a huge dinosaur nerd and anything I can learn about fossils is a great thing to pass on to her. In this book, David Farrier digs into the trace fossils that our current society will leave around for the future. Trace fossils are footprints, arrows, burrows, and other things that are not directly the animal but are fossilized1.

What caught me a little about this book is that it’s actually more about climate change than I expected as the author investigates the many ways our industrial work will show up hundreds of thousands of years from now. From our roads showing a massive displacement of resources from some regions so that others can have a road2 to the numerous “thin cities” that spread out next to the water which will be consumed as water level rises3, this is a book about much of the destruction that we have visited on our Earth.

One of the big points to me was the effect that plastic has on our world with as many as 1 trillion plastic bags being used and disposed of daily4. Every piece of plastic manufactured and not incinerated still exists in some form as it doesn’t degrade, it just breaks down into smaller pieces that can be found on every portion of earth5.

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Another big point was the effect that nuclear energy and atomic bombs have had on the earth6. We’ll see the remnants of nuclear fall out for thousands of generations7.

Overall, this book made me think hard about the type of world my current actions leave behind for my children, and then on down to the next generations that have to inhabit this world. When I think of the massive time scale that the actions of our current generation have, it’s humbling and mind-boggling.

Should You Read Footprints by David Farrier?

If you want to get an idea of the ways that current methods of living will continue to impact the world for thousands of years, I found this to be a well-written look at that topic. I come away from it with even more conviction that we need to do a much better job at building sustainable systems for our own living so that those thousands of years from now don’t curse us as selfish people that picked our own life of ease over their ability to live at all.

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