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Long feared, volcanoes help the planet

A new book argues that volcanoes aid with carbon capture and environmental resets

Mountains of Fire: The Secret Lives of Volcanoes. By Clive Oppenheimer. University of Chicago Press; 352 pages; $27.50. Hodder & Stoughton; £20

MOUNT EREBUS—named after one of the primordial beings in Greek mythology, son of Chaos, personification of darkness—is the southernmost active volcano in the world. More people have been to space than have travelled to Antarctica and set foot on Mount Erebus (pictured). That is for good reason. When humans first climbed it in the early 1900s, the journey involved violent winds, occasional frostbite and bowls of “hoosh” (a potent, greasy combination of boiled, dehydrated beef and fat, which would not go bad).

Clive Oppenheimer, a professor of volcanology at Cambridge University, has spent 13 seasons—cumulatively an entire year of his life—living near the summit of Mount Erebus. In…