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Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature,…
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Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change (2006)

by Elizabeth Kolbert

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Well, what I got from this book was that we're pretty much screwed.

However this is less depressing than you might expect since I just read [book:The World Without Us] and it seems like even if we don't survive at least the rest of the world will, and it'll probably evolve some interesting new species, which would be cool.

Also, this book was a more entertaining read than I thought it might be, because apparently climate scientists are FUN GUYS. Perhaps they feel liberated, knowing that it's pretty much the end of the world as we know it. ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
Free book from a program to foster university-wide discussion of big issues. I got bored. Part of the boredom, but also a bit of mirth, came from the pat, gratuitous New Yorker descriptive style, which generally gives the impression that the writer would really like to fuck his or her interviewees, no matter how grave the subject matter. But hey, free book.
  idlerking | Mar 31, 2013 |
Field Notes from a Catastrophe is the literary equivalent of taking a photo of a power plant on a snowless winter's day to enhance the heated air rising from the cooling stacks to exaggerate "global warming." Kolbert is a journalist and relies on the emotional aspects of changes in our world to promote her belief. The only thing seemingly out of place in the book, besides the Rolling Stone magazine-style one or two sentence description of her interviewee's physical appearances, is the fossil fuel she consumed to research the stories covered in this book. From trucks, to snowmobiles, to flying, she travels the world and unapologetically writes about cruising the landscape with her hosts.

I still don't fully understand her inclusion of the demise of Mesopotamian civilization of Akkadians. They suffered loss of fertile and arable land via droughts, heat and sandstorms over the course of a century. Yet, if we are hurtling towards the same fate through coal burning, gas guzzling and tree falling, what did the Akkadians do to suffer the same downfall?

My copy has been marked with margin comments on nearly every page. One thing that became apparent was an occasional quick toss of a bone to "global warming deniers" and acknowledgement of arguments, possibly to suggest plausibility as being evenhanded, but she just as swiftly follows-up with a caveat by order of a counter-argument. This book was not science based, it was written to persuade those who are concerned but maybe not "on the bandwagon" yet. From a sorrowful Native Alaskan and sinking homes in thawing permafrost, to horrified Scandinavian children subjected to public service announcements threatening doom in a deluge of flood water, to awe of Dr. James Hansen and his computer models which take a month of processing to predict the end of the world, Elizabeth Kolbert pleads a case more and more people are believing less and less in. ( )
  HistReader | Jun 7, 2012 |
Frankly, I'm a bit confused about all the hype over this book. I read any number of individuals, not scientists, who raved about this book, saying it totally changed their mind. When I read it, I could hardly see why, since it is one of the weakest entries in the genre, at least as far as evidence, using mostly anecdote to present a very weak case for the phenomenon of global warming. Read instead the Rough Guide to Climate Change or any of a dozen other books that do a much better job. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | Apr 17, 2011 |
I would have given this set of feature stories on climate change 5 stars, except it was too short and skimpy on the details. Time after time, she brings up topics that I'd really like to know more about, then just skims over them. Nevertheless, I think it's an important book. ( )
  wanack | Jun 28, 2008 |
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New Yorker writer Kolbert tackles the controversial subject of global warming. Americans have been warned since the late 1970s that the buildup of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere threatens to melt the polar ice sheets and irreversibly change our climate. With little done since then to alter this dangerous course, now is the moment to salvage our future. By the end of the century, the world will likely be hotter than it's been in the last two million years, and the sweeping consequences of this change will determine the future of life on earth for generations to come. Kolbert approaches this monumental problem from every angle. She travels to the Arctic, interviews researchers and environmentalists, explains the science and the studies, draws frightening parallels to lost ancient civilizations, unpacks the politics, and presents the personal tales of those who are being affected most--the people who make their homes near the poles and are watching their worlds disappear.--From publisher description.… (more)

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