Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change

Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change

by Elizabeth Kolbert
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Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The title of this excellent, frightening book tells us where Elizabeth Kolbert thinks global warming's taking the world, but her tone's measured as she builds the case. Originally offered as articles in 'The New Yorker', here she fine-tunes and fleshes out the presentation, but core facts and conclusions remain the same. The book's a kind of travelogue of danger as she moves around the northern world, from Alaska to Greenland to Iceland to Northern Europe, also stopping to get detailed and dark news from experts in New York City, the Netherlands and other places, with everything from the most arcane studies to the evidence of her own eyes ('drunken' Alaskan trees tilted over by melting permafrost) clinching the case that global warming's here and mankind's largely responsible. But as she moves from expert to expert, each of whom plays a variation on the same unfortunate theme, you get a sense of the disconnect that still exists between those who truly know and the laymen and leaders who go about business-as-usual. The book, in its brevity, with its clean style, in its studied restraint (though panic's just below the surface), its care not to overload the science while still intelligently covering all the basics, in the way it tries to humanize the story with vignettes, is offered as, and succeeds as, a true service to a general public that still doesn't really understand. It's a quick, easy, accessible read that never panders or oversimplifies. She makes a couple of scientific statements that could be contested-- for instance (pg. 126) that combined melting of West Antarctica and Greenland might take just centuries and raise sea level 35 feet, where other scientists would say a millenium or more and 45 to 50 feet-- but there's nothing that detracts from the truth and authority of her overall conclusions. And her account of the fall of some previous civilizations is sometimes not exactly apposite to her story, since some of these disasters came after cooling, not warming, though such events do illustrate the vulnerability of civilization to extreme climate change of any kind. This book is published at the same time as Tim Flannery's superb 'The Weather Makers', but the two complement each other, Flannery putting a greater emphasis on ecological change, especially in the tropics and subtropics, Kolbert concentrating more on pure climatic change and northern realms. Flannery succeeds in synthesizing all the science. Kolbert goes more lightly and her book will be the easier one for laypeople to handle. Read both. Each makes a somewhat half-hearted presentation of possible 'solutions', and like most writings on the subject do not question the political/economic/religious fundamentals of the modern civilization responsible. But Kolbert's last sentence, perhaps to become a classic one, finally tells all: 'It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.'
BklynBornPL More than 1 year ago
Welcome to the future caused by our past. There is something about the way this wonderful author writes that makes the whole depressing mess of our impact on this beautiful planet something you WANT to read. So well researched and written. I suggest this and her THE SIXTH EXTINCTION whole heartedly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change by Elizabeth Colbert, many different topics pertaining to climate change are discussed with Colbert’s persuasive reporting that bring the reader to a sobering clarity on the climate change that surrounds us. The way she reports on climate change brings the reader to a realization that an apocalypse is already upon us. She lets the facts tell the story through a narrative that is engaging due to its storytelling like qualities that draw the reader into the situations that she is describing first hand. Some readers may find her style abrasive and short but I found her writing style very to the point and informative. She provides an unbiased written overview about the urgency of addressing climate change and provides examples of not only what is physically happening on earth but also what man is doing to cause these changes and correct, while sometimes not correct, the changes we have already caused through industrialization. This book is a great overview of the many issues regarding climate change and the human impact on the earth’s climate. Therefore, this book provides a great resource to those interested in climate change within the political and biological fields.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert talks about the growing problem of climate change and global warming going on today in the world that could potentially be a huge issue for mankind. The book is like a diary, that one may keep while traveling the world and keeping record of the various things that are seen through observation, and guidance from natives. She starts in Alaska, where the effects of global warming seem to have taken their toll on a small island where the population is small, but fairly active, active enough to notice that the world around them is changing drastically. She then continues to move around the world in many different places, including Greenland, the Netherlands, Japan, and Vermont, to learn from the experts of global warming, and related topics. The evidence that is gathered on the effects and causes of global warming are truly amazing. She talks about the permafrost in Alaska, greenhouse gas emissions, glaciations, endemic species, and various measures that are being taken to help the issue of global warming today. One of the most inspirational pieces of her work, one could argue, comes near the end where she starts her conclusion: "Luck and resourcefulness are, of course, essential human qualities. People are always imagining new ways to live, and then figuring out ways top remake the world to suit what they've imagined" (185). Basically, she is saying that people are affecting the world to their liking, and they are making the world more hospitable to them, but at the same time, it is also destroying the natural environment of the world which is a big problem. The message that she conveys to readers is that she wants us to stop our bad habits before it is too late. The climate is getting worse, and if we do not change our ways soon, we will all be in trouble. The book is a good read if one is interested in these topics. The facts and information brought up in the book has obviously been hard to obtain and provides insights to the future of the earth. All in all this was a great read, and if one is interested in these topics, he/she should definitely read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Kolbert, an intuitive and compelling writer, most known for her political journalism, takes on the growing concern of global warming. What started as just an article in the New Yorker, ends as her two part book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe. Kolbert digs through all the scientific information that she gathers to explain what is really going on with the environment and what we can do. Despite the smaller size of the book Kolbert really is thorough in her search, covering everything from the politics involved, to the history that humans have had with global warming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago