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Early Spring: An Ecologist and Her Children Wake to a Warming World Paperback – March 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Early Spring is an introductory gloss on the local manifestations of global warming. Seidl alternates between rather detached scientific explanations and overly sensuous descriptions of her Vermont environs as she points out that global warming is apparent in one's own backyard. She asks, and prompts those who have obviously not been paying much attention until now to ask, what global warming means for traditions, communities, the future. The book never gets much further than this- posing the question- and could stand to be a great deal shorter for all it accomplishes.
I was looking forward to Early Spring, and I have to say I'm disappointed. The subject is important enough but never actually discussed- just set up. Over and over and over again.
Early Spring is done in a literary style- Seidl aims for aesthetic expression as much as the conveying of information. Unfortunately, her inflated style quickly reaches the point of overkill, and she does not manage to add much to the subject of global warming at all. I knew much of the subject matter going in; I do not live in Vermont but neither do I live in a cave. I kept waiting for her to tie it all together and take it further, and she doesn't. Instead I get to hear about her sensuous rapture at the bounty nature created apparently for no other purpose but her pleasure, and, of course, I get to hear more about her darling children.Read more ›
"...the USDA has found that on average, lilacs in the U.S. are blooming two to four days earlier per decade than they did forty years ago." (p. 29). "Lilacs bloom eight to sixteen days earlier than they did when I was born. And by the time my daughters are my age, the lilacs in the hollow will be blooming fourteen to twenty-eight days earlier than they are now - in April rather than in May." (p. 32)
Each chapter explores a different theme including weather, gardens, water, birds, butterflies, and meadows and fields. Seidl's eloquent descriptions of everyday encounters with each theme are connected to the larger issues of climate change. Her smooth transitions between personal stories and global warming research add to the effectiveness of the narrative. In addition, her selection of timely statistics, disturbing trends, and concrete examples provide strong support for climate change. Lilacs blooming early, reductions in river volume, and changes in migration patterns were just a few of her many unsettling examples.
"Some ecosystems are more resilient than others; it depends on the ability of their constituent species to react (behaviorally, physiologically, and phenologically) to changing conditions. Still other ecosystems are crossing thresholds and collapsing under the degree of change; their constituents species are unable to adapt (no genetic or phenotypic capacity, no habitat available, or immobile by nature) to the environmental changes around them.Read more ›
Early Spring is frequently engaging. Homey descriptions of family life and modern rural Vermont society are sweet but not overly sugared. Imperiled species and the complex ecosystem interactions they depend on are elegantly unfolded.
I found potential impacts on relationships in natural systems particularly thought provoking. No element is isolated, each rare species and well-loved creature relies on a complex web of relationships. Entire natural systems will not simply shift their activities smoothly to start spring earlier. Migrants depending on day-length cues will miss food sources that rely on temperature cues. Each change to complex dynamic systems will impact other elements of the system, generating cumulative changes we cannot anticipate.
Seidle writes as much about potential impacts on the social live of her community as on natural systems. I found these sections to be a little weaker. Speculations on how local customs may alter seem rather trite at times. I felt she tried a little too hard to relate global climate change to her own life when mostly all she can report is vague worries about things that seem rather minor in the big scheme.
Throughout Early Spring, Seidle consciously echoes Rachel Carson. Carson's Silent Spring made the little-known issue of unbridled pesticide use a compelling national concern, spurring federal legislation. Early Spring, in contrast, runs over well-known ground and articulates no policy agenda. This is a more personal work, smaller both physically and in scope than Carson's. Still and all, I enjoyed this small semi-precious gem of personal nature writing on an important and timely issue.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Here's the deal. The planet IS warming. Even most climate skeptics admit this much.
This book explores how that warming is being felt in a New England community. Read more
Early Spring is one of the first books I've read that puts climate change into a local context. The author, Amy Seidl, a naturalist and ecologist, uses a combination of firsthand... Read morePublished on May 5, 2009 by Amazon Customer
This book is really about the butterfly effect and how an action miles away can wreck havoc on your environment. Read morePublished on April 14, 2009 by Mary Bookhounds
Early Spring is a fairly unremarkable book, save the beautiful details of the Vermont home and woods the author can't seem to say enough about. Read morePublished on April 11, 2009 by Andrew Mack
The vast majority of books about the effects of global warming fall into two general categories: they are shrill alarms about a catastrophe right around the corner, or they are... Read morePublished on April 2, 2009 by Frederick S. Goethel