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Long known for her insightful and thought-provoking political journalism, author Elizabeth Kolbert now tackles the controversial and increasingly urgent subject of global warming. In what began as groundbreaking three-part series in the New Yorker, for which she won a National Magazine Award in 2006, Kolbert cuts through the competing rhetoric and political agendas to elucidate for Americans what is really going on with the global environment and asks what, if anything, can be done to save our planet. Now updated and with a new afterword, Field Notes from a Catastrophe is the book to read on the defining issue and greatest challenge of our times.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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)
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From Scientific American
In the 1990s the inhabitants of Shishmaref, an Inupiat village on the Alaskan island of Sarichef, noticed that sea ice was forming later and melting earlier. The change meant that they could not safely hunt seal as they had traditionally and that a protective skirt of ice no longer buffered the small town from destructive storm waves. Shishmaref was being undone by a warming world. To survive, the villagers recently decided to move to the mainland. Soon Shishmaref on Sarichef will be gone. Pithy and powerful, the opening of Elizabeth Kolbert's book about global warming, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, echoes that of another book that also originated as a series of articles in the New Yorker magazine. Rachel Carson's Silent Spring starts in much the same way, with a fable about a town that lived in harmony with its surroundings and that fell silent. The question is, Can Field Notes galvanize a national movement to curb global warming in the same way Silent Spring sparked one to curb the use of pesticides? Silent Spring's success as a transformative force came about because of Carson's scientific authority, the way she shaped her argument, the immediate nature of the threat, and the many movements afoot in American society in 1962. Carson was a scientist, and she had credibility when she described how synthetic chemicals, DDT in particular, affect living things. That authority convinced her readers and withstood critics and attacks by the chemical industry. Carson's writing was direct and her rhetoric carefully chosen, as her biographer Linda Lear and other scholars have noted. Carson appreciated Americans' fears about nuclear fallout: something invisible was contaminating their food. She made clear DDT's similar qualities: ""No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world.
- ISBN: 9781596911307