Collection of climate books breaks records at international book fair

One Hundred Seconds To Midnight, a collection of books, articles and other historical materials on climate change is valued at £1.65 million

Caroline Chebet
Thursday 11 November 2021 11:13

A book with a collection of materials on climate change has topped as the most expensive collection at the world’s largest book extravaganza, on sale for Ksh 248 million (£1,650,000).

One Hundred Seconds to Midnight: Sounding the Alarm for Climate Change stands out among 15 million books under the same roof at the Sharjah International Book Fair in the UAE.

The book is a landmark assemblage of works on climate change, featuring more than 800 works from the fifteenth century to the present day. It brings together a collection by the world’s greatest scientists, writers, artists, and activists and comprises rare first editions, signed copies, and iconic visual materials.

“This is a landmark collection on the history of climate change. It involves anything that explains climate change from manuscripts, research papers, original books, maps, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera, and art chronicling the long history of climate change and environmentalism. It is so comprehensive in scope and has never been done before,” Luke Basford, an official with Peter Harrington, a London-based organization told The Standard.

The collection was produced and sold under a partnership between World Land Trust, an international conservation charity, and Peter Harrington, a London-based organization specialising in rare books.

One Hundred Seconds to Midnight traces the long journey of climate change with a remarkable collection of documents.

The book was first presented on the eve of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference and is currently being showcased to interested parties including the largest book fairs across the world.

Institutions and private collectors in the United States and the United Kingdom have already shown interest in purchasing the collections. Whoever buys the book, will be given an original copy that does not exist anywhere else.

The extraordinary price of the collection, Mr Basford says, was reached by compiling the value of every work put together and summed up to achieve the figure of Ksh248 million.

“Each work has different pricing and the final price was reached by compiling the value of each of these works. We hope to sell it to institutions or private collectors. We have had interest from institutions and private collectors from the United States and the United Kingdom and we hope to sell it,” said Basford.

While much research work is currently being done to tell on environmental changes and climate change, the work of ancient researchers is believed to shine more light and trace the history of the changing world. The collection now traces back climate change knowledge to the 19th century.

The book recognises works of great scientists and researchers including Eunice Newton Foote, a 19th-century American scientist known as the “First Lady of Climate Science”.

As early as 1856 the ‘First Lady of Climate Science’ theorized that carbon dioxide directly affected atmospheric temperature in her landmark paper “Circumstances affecting the heat of the sun’s rays”.

It also profiles the work of Aristotle, the first natural scientist.

World Land Trust, in their website, noted that “At a time when global warming feels more real than ever, this is a headline people don’t often read – a headline it’s worth not losing sight of as we all too frequently wake up to news coverage of catastrophic events such wildfires in Siberia or deadly floods in Germany. Treatises, printed accounts, research papers – over the centuries they have charted a story of humankind’s devastation of its home, but the next chapter is as yet unwritten.”

The organisation adds “That spirit of hope for a positive next chapter is something that the purchaser of this extraordinary collection will also be supporting, so from World Land Trust and our partners, our thanks to you, and to Peter Harrington for choosing us as their charity partner.”

And while the collection of climate change seems to stand out among the 15 million books at the book fair, many other unique ones including those tracing the origin of species by Charles Darwin also garner attention.

Darwin’s Origin of Species, a first edition of the most influential scientific work of the 19th century printed in 1859 sells at Ksh37.6 million (£250,000).

Karl Marx’s book titled Das Kapital sells at Ksh86.6 million (£575,000). William Shakespeare’s original copy printed in 1685 titled Comedies, Histories and Tragedies sold at Ksh27.8 million (£185,000)

The first page of the first-ever printed Gutenberg Bible sells at Ksh15 million (£99,000). The page features Ezekiel 23:24 to 25:16 and is believed to have been printed about in 1455.

The books, among many others, are part of the rare collections sourced by Peter Harrington, the organization that deals with sourcing, selling and buying the finest quality original first editions, signed, rare and antiquarian books, fine bindings and library sets.

This year’s edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) crossed a major milestone in the Arab cultural world, earning the title of the world’s largest book fair for the first time since its inception in 1982.

Held under the theme ‘There is always a right book’, the book fair has been leading international efforts to enable the publishing industry to chart its post-pandemic recovery.

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said that “The new SIBF record is a local, regional and international achievement that could not have been realized without the continuing support of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, who firmly believes that building strong societies and civilizations can only be achieved through knowledge and books.”

This article is reproduced here as part of the Space for Giants African Conservation Journalism Programme, supported by the major shareholder of ESI Media, which includes It aims to expand the reach of conservation and environmental journalism in Africa, and bring more African voices into the international conservation debate.

Read the original story here.

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