Field notes from a catastrophe Man, nature, and climate change

Elizabeth Kolbert

Book - 2006

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Subjects
Published
New York : Bloomsbury Pub. : Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers 2006.
Edition
1st U.S. ed
Language
English
Physical Description
210 p. : ill., maps ; 22 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (p. 195-203) and index.
ISBN
1596911255
9781596911253
Main Author
Elizabeth Kolbert (-)
  • Shishmaref, Alaska
  • A warmer sky
  • Under the glacier
  • The butterfly and the toad
  • The curse of Akkad
  • Floating houses
  • Business as usual
  • The day after Kyoto
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Man in the anthropocene.
Review by Choice Reviews

Kolbert's Field Notes offers a largely nonscientific account of recent climate variability and change and the policy-related decisions (or lack thereof) made in the wake of unprecedented environmental changes. The author combines field experience, including personal observations from the high northern latitudes where climate changes have been disproportionately large, with interviews with high-ranking scientists to assemble a rather dismal view of humankind's future in light of a disregard for greenhouse-gas-induced global warming. Although Kolbert makes excellent use of the refereed scientific literature, her argument is largely one-sided, relying on correlation as evidence rather than physical causation. Nonetheless, her account provides a sobering view of climate in the future, as well as an interesting account of developments in climate science and their intersection with policy and economics. As such, this book is an excellent introduction to issues involved in implementing climate-related policies in a world dominated by economic interests and increasing energy demand. Very useful bibliography. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates. Copyright 2006 American Library Association.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

On the burgeoning shelf of cautionary but occasionally alarmist books warning about the consequences of dramatic climate change, Kolbert's calmly persuasive reporting stands out for its sobering clarity. Expanding on a three-part series for the New Yorker , Kolbert (The Prophet of Love ) lets facts rather than polemics tell the story: in essence, it's that Earth is now nearly as warm as it has been at any time in the last 420,000 years and is on the precipice of an unprecedented "climate regime, one with which modern humans have had no prior experience." An inexorable increase in the world's average temperature means that butterflies, which typically restrict themselves to well-defined climate zones, are now flitting where they've never been found before; that nearly every major glacier in the world is melting rapidly; and that the prescient Dutch are already preparing to let rising oceans reclaim some of their land. In her most pointed chapter, Kolbert chides the U.S. for refusing to sign on to the Kyoto Accord. In her most upbeat chapter, Kolbert singles out Burlington, Vt., for its impressive energy-saving campaign, which ought to be a model for the rest of the nation--just as this unbiased overview is a model for writing about an urgent environmental crisis. (Mar. 14) [Page 39]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A New Yorker writer tackles the controversial issue of global warming from every angle, incorporating interviews with researchers and environmentalists, explaining the science and the studies, unpacking the politics, drawing parallels to lost ancient civilizations, and presenting the personal tales of those who are being affected most. 40,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

New Yorker writer Kolbert tackles the controversial subject of global warming. Americans have been warned since the late 1970s that the buildup of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere threatens to melt the polar ice sheets and irreversibly change our climate. With little done since then to alter this dangerous course, now is the moment to salvage our future. By the end of the century, the world will likely be hotter than it's been in the last two million years, and the sweeping consequences of this change will determine the future of life on earth for generations to come. Kolbert approaches this monumental problem from every angle. She travels to the Arctic, interviews researchers and environmentalists, explains the science and the studies, draws frighteningparallels to lost ancient civilizations, unpacks the politics, and presents the personal tales of those who are being affected most--the people who make their homes near the poles and are watching their worlds disappear.--From publisher description.Explores the issue of global warming from every angle, incorporating interviews with researchers and environmentalists, explaining the science and the studies, and presenting the personal tales of those who are being affected most.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Former New York Times reporter Kolbert has been a staff writer for the New Yorker since 1999. She expands on three articles she wrote for the New Yorker, which ran in the spring of 2005, exploring the reality of global warming. The text is based on journeys she made to several locations around the world--Alaska, Iceland, Greenland, England, the Netherlands--where she interviewed researchers and environmentalists to get the facts about climate change and its effects. The text is intended for the general reader concerned about this issue. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Review by Publisher Summary 4

An argument for the urgent danger of global warming in a book that is sure to be as influential as Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.Known for her insightful and thought-provoking journalism, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert now tackles the controversial subject of global warming. Americans have been warned since the late nineteen-seventies that the buildup of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere threatens to melt the polar ice sheets and irreversibly change our climate. With little done since then to alter this dangerous course, now is the moment to salvage our future. By the end of the century, the world will likely be hotter than it's been in the last two million years, and the sweeping consequences of this change will determine the future of life on earth for generations to come.In writing that is both clear and unbiased, Kolbert approaches this monumental problem from every angle. She travels to the Arctic, interviews researchers and environmentalists, explains the science and the studies, draws frightening parallels to lost ancient civilizations, unpacks the politics, and presents the personal tales of those who are being affected most—the people who make their homes near the poles and, in an eerie foreshadowing, are watching their worlds disappear. Growing out of a groundbreaking three-part series for the New Yorker, Field Notes from a Catastrophe brings the environment into the consciousness of the American people and asks what, if anything, can be done, and how we can save our planet.