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Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
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From Publishers Weekly
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From Scientific American
Marguerite Holloway, a contributing editor at Scientific American, teaches journalism at Columbia University.
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Top Customer Reviews
Kolbert offer us poignant glimpses at humans forced to confront ugly truths about the nature of the Anthropocene era, that is, that so-far limited expanse of time that humans have inhabited the earth. Presented with the bulk of the evidence, it is hard for an objective intellect to escape the distinct possibility that as a species we seem to be hell-bent on self-destruction. Indeed, the breadth and scope of the manifest effects of climate change on human habitation is breath-taking, affecting societies as far-flung as Netherlands to Siberia, from South Africa to the Great Barrier Reef. She writes wryly about stepping through the looking glass in a conversation with a Washington wonk who attempted to justify the Bush administration's active opposition to both the Kyoto Treaty and any attempt to rework it into a manageable tool to effectively combat the effects of global warming.
It is in such encounters that she discovers her voice and her poignant sense of urgency; if the best educated among us choose to stand in active opposition, what chance is thereto turn this catastrophic change in climate around?Read more ›
Field Notes From A Catastrophe details the author's experiences as she traveled, met, and conversed with several leading authorities of the climate change issue. The first chapters explain some of the negative effects of climate change on nature, while the later chapters deal with how climate change has affected man and civilization in the past, how it will likely affect us in the future, and how political leaders are squandering the last few years we have left to make much of difference - all in order to appease their big-time cash contributors.
The author excels in letting experts in the field tell the story for her. For example, in explaining the devastating consequence of modest, but prolonged, local climate change to an ancient middle-eastern civilization the leading paleo-climatologist to study the case says, "The thing they couldn't prepare for was the same thing that we won't prepare for, because in their case they didn't know about it and because in our case the political system can't listen to it. And that is that the climate system has much greater things in store for us than we think."
I highly recommend this book. For more advanced scientific information about climate change many other good books are available (including The Weather Makers), but for an introduction to the subject this one is nearly perfect.
This will affect us all, as conflict over basic needs could soon turn the United States into a fully guarded zones, with security personnel staving off millions of migrants from flooded regions. Yet, as Kolbert also notes, the United States is the largest emitter of carbon in the world. Thus, the U.S. population has substantial responsibility for the migrations to come.
This book deserves serious attention, not only as a handbook of facts about climate and geography, but also for its keen interest in what real people are experiencing, right now.
Kolbert foresees widespread and dire consequences, yet interviews an expert who retains some hope that we could still avert utter disaster. In that sense, there's an element of activism to this book -- although Kolbert's sense of doom is quite clear by the book's conclusion. We're selfish, says this book, and it's killing us.
So what should our response be? Carbon emissions are more dangerous due to the increasing lack of forests, which we tear down for cities and rangeland. Methane is second to carbon dioxide in its warming potential; it accounts for 9 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with more than twenty times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book outlines from many different viewpoints the nearly inevitable climate disaster looming in a very few generations. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Gayle Wheatley
Kolbert as always writes clearly and convincingly of the environmental disasters we are exponentially experiencing.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Get bogged down in technical details and journalistic trivia to the point of becoming boring.Published 6 months ago by FB
Elizabeth is an amazing storyteller and also on the ground and in the thick of it. She's got a lot of courage in writing about this subject, but also in the time and energy she... Read morePublished 9 months ago by notmyname
Poorly written work with poor academic support. Unfortunately, puff pieces and fake reviews are used to push it up to promote a political agenda over science.Published 9 months ago by J. Peters
I give this book 5 stars for its urgency! What are we, as a civilization thinking? My next read is this authors book, "The Sixth Extinction".Published 9 months ago by james p greene
I seldom read non-fiction and this book certainly does not read like a fiction book. But, I was gripped from the moment I began reading it. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Constant Reader
Written prior to The Six Extinction, but covers other areas. A very well written book by a very knowledgeable person. Definitely should be read by everyone. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Andy