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Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change Paperback – February 3, 2015
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“Among the few irreplaceable volumes yet written about climate change.” ―Bill McKibben, Boston Globe
“If you have time this year for just one book on science, nature, or the environment, this should be it.” ―San Diego Union-Tribune
“A perfect primer on global warming. It might be the most important book you read this year.” ―Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer at The New Yorker. She is the author, most recently, of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.
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Part 1: Nature reveals to readers how positive feedback loops in Greenland are causing ice to rapidly melt into the ocean. Not only is this happening in Greenland but in areas all over the northern hemisphere. Shishmaref, Alaska is a small village community that is considering resettlement due to the drastic changes in ice. Glaciers are melting all over Iceland, the people monitor this and record it every year. Kolbert visits all these places and takes note of the drastic changes locals say have them very worried. While still discussing nature, she shifts away from ice to the topic of butterflies, well, the topic of rising temperatures causing the migration ranges of animals to broaden. Animals once found distinctly in Great Britain are now being sighted in places like Mongolia.
Part 2: Man starts off with the curse of Akkad, a large empire completely abandoned much like the Mayan. This chapter focuses more on what man has done and is doing to affect the atmosphere. Our immense consumption of fossil fuels and American’s refusal to believe scientific evidence proving global warming is setting us back and possible dooming us. Speaking with experts, the author found our evidence that the drought California is facing now was very early on predicted to authorities who stated that if that happened then “forget it.” People feel like global warming isn’t happening because to us, the effects on our daily life our unrecognizable or slim to none, but the effects on nature, on our habitat are becoming dramatic.
Part 3: Time depicts how the forecast of the last chapters have come true, but sooner than experts had predicted or ever hoped they would. The sea level is rising and the ocean is becoming more acidic, faster than we had predicted. Some nations are taking it on themselves to fix this and actually be the change they wish to see. The island of Samso off of Denmark produces 10% more energy, renewable energy than they use every year. With wind turbines, the conservative island famers produce more energy than they even use. Other people are investing in energy efficient housing and cutting down in the driving. These changes are all wonderful but one has to wonder how much of an effect they will have the long run if large nations and corporation just keep pumping more and more carbon into the air.
Kolbert does a wonderful job of putting the reader inside the situation. When she writes from Alaska, one can feel the personalities of the scientist she is speaking with, on can picture the settlement of Shishmaref. Kolbert has a wonderful way of engaging the experts who she’s interviewing, to the point where it doesn’t seem as though she is a journalist gathering evidence for a compelling and informative story but rather a very curious and keen student. This book is incredibly informative on a wide range of issues which stem from climate change. One that stuck out to this reading was the information about the Kyoto Protocol and they ways in which the US did and didn’t engage. As a nation that controls so much of the output of carbon, we would have a huge influence on changing the future if we became more serious about renewable resources. Science has come up with so many amazing ideas like solar panels in space and yet we as a nation refuse. Our priorities are on our economy and making more money to stay on top of the global market. It’s sickening to know that down the line this will be paid for by our children, that our own nation’s greediness and political stubbornness will have immensely negative effects on the lives of future generation. The proof of this in front of us, unless the wording of it has been tampered with like it has been previously by White House officials, yet we continue on a very dangerous path.
All in all, Kolbert’s book was well-written, engaging, and enlightening.
The author takes the reader on a sober journey that looks at the effects of global warming such as; permafrost and polar caps melting worldwide, species going extinct, changes in butterfly migration in England, rising waters in the Netherlands,and the destruction of Canadian wilderness by Tar-Sand mining.
Elizabeth Kolbert delivered a very clear and sobering portrait of climate change with her facts and interviews. I especially liked her descriptive language, for example how she individualized each of the people that she spoke to.
I look forward to read, "The Sixth Extinction", by the same author. I recently saw this headline..."The Earth stands on the brink of its sixth mass extinction and the fault is ours". Very frightening news indeed.
All others need to read then write to Congress and express your concerns.
Could not help but remember "Soilent Green". Look it up!