Climate Ghosts

Migratory Species in the Anthropocene

Nancy Langston

Climate Ghosts deals with the important issue of climate change and human impact on three species: woodland caribou, common loons, and lake sturgeon.  

Environmental historian Nancy Langston explores three “ghost species” in the Great Lakes watershed—woodland caribou, common loons, and lake sturgeon. Ghost species are those that have not gone completely extinct, although they may be extirpated from a particular area. Their traces are still present, whether in DNA, in small fragmented populations, in lone individuals roaming a desolate landscape in search of a mate. We can still restore them, if we make the hard choices necessary for them to survive. In this meticulously researched book, Langston delves into how climate change and human impact affected these now ghost species. Climate Ghosts covers one of the key issues of our time.

Paper: $29.95 | Cloth: $45 | E-book: $24.95
ISBN-13: 9781684580651
Pages: 216 | Size: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
Date Published: October 1, 2021

This is a must read book—written with humility, head, and heart.

Brinda Sarathy
University of Washington




  • Climate Ghosts is as much a call to address the violent and ongoing legacies of settler colonial racism, as it is to salvage particular animals and ecosystems in decline. This is a must read book—written with humility, head, and heart.

    Brinda Sarathy
    Professor and dean, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Bothell
  • Nancy Langston has written a stunning work of environmental history that illuminates the challenges facing wildlife vulnerable to climate change. While the book carries a dire warning, Langston draws hope from recent restoration programs, arguing that species on the brink should not be written off as doomed.

    John Sandlos
    Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • By centering Indigenous rights and values, Langston shows how we can deepen our relationships with other human beings, and with fish, birds, and mammals; she understands each other as relatives. Climate Ghosts challenges us to engage critically with Indigenous dispossession, ecosystem change, and species restoration.

    Michael Dockry
    Assistant Professor for Tribal Natural Resources, University of Minnesota
  • Maang, nme, adik (loon, sturgeon, caribou) are our older siblings. To the Anishnabek, these are relatives with as much right to be here as we have, and to treat a relative as a ‘resource’ is shameful. In this impassioned and detailed account, Nancy Langston shows how our lifeways are harming our siblings. She makes clear what will happen not only to our older siblings but to ourselves if we do not change.

    Kathie Brosemer
    Environmental Director, Sault Tribe
  • Historical information, dating back several centuries, is skilfully combined with details on present and planned restoration actions, providing insights into the past, present and possible future of these threatened species. Throughout the book, the prose flows well and without complex jargon, making this an enjoyable and accessible read. I would highly recommend Climate Ghosts to anyone interested in migratory species and climate change.

  • Nancy Langston supplies three examples of seemingly impossible and precarious recovery stories for migratory species that offer ways forward for anyone interested in addressing environmental inequality and climate change's impacts on migratory species…Through the stories of caribou, sturgeon, and loons, Climate Ghosts challenges its readers to examine personal and societal relationships and responsibilities to migratory species.

  • Like the species it examines, Climate Ghosts covers a lot of ground.... We learn about the animals’ biology, the cultural beliefs regarding them, the reasons for their decline, and the efforts to restore them. This is a story of trauma and loss, one that asks, “How do we keep from turning away?”. But it is also one that provides some hope in the dark and a possible way forward.

    ISIS Journal
  • Beyond providing basic biological
    information of these ghost species, Nancy Langston takes the
    reader on a scientific and cultural tour in the far North, analyzing
    the combined effects of accelerated climatic processes
    and Anthropocene land-use change, as well as showing the
    spiritual depths of the Indigenous tribes who consider caribous,
    sturgeons, and loons totems... The volume has a well-deserved place on the bookshelves of ecologists, conservationists, and cultural anthropologists.

    Conservation Biology
  • Teachers seeking contemporary examples to use to discuss climate change, threatened species, habitat destruction, and human impact need look no further: Climate Ghosts has that and more.

    American Biology Teacher
  • The most recent addition to The Mandel Lectures in the Humanities at Brandeis University series, Prof. Langston brings her readers a profound message of both warning and encouragement to action, of the potential for tragedy and the potential for renewal. While what has already happened cannot be changed, what happens next can be; but to act wisely, an understanding of these species in and of themselves as well as their existence in their environment must be achieved. Climate Ghosts is clearly a step towards such knowledge.

    The Well-read Naturalist

About the Author

Nancy Langston

Nancy Langston is distinguished professor of environmental history at Michigan Technological University. Langston was trained both as an environmental historian and as an ecologist. In addition to numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and popular essays, she is the author of Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares: The Paradox of Old Growth in the Inland West; Where Land and Water Meet: A Western Landscape Transformed; Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of …

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