As pleased as I was when the cherry trees began to blossom on Capitol Hill this year (I love spring), it was a little alarming to see that happening in January. The Pacific Northwest is known for a temperate climate that, in the low-lying areas along the coast, rarely drops below freezing (although when I went hiking near North Bend last weekend, we did get sleeted on). But still, cherry blossoms in January seemed a bit much.
It's more of that kind of thing that we can expect, though, according to Elizabeth Kolbert's Field Notes from a Catastrophe: shifting seasons, wilder weather, and the extension, contraction, and alteration of wildlife ranges. Recommended by a friend currently working on her doctorate in oceanography, Field Notes is a sober take on an alarming subject for a lay audience. It may or may not persuade the unconvinced, but the survey of climate scientists, not to mention the people whose lives are already being affected by climate change--human-induced or not, there is little doubt that it is happening--at the very least shows the choice that the human race has before us: adapt, or don't. That might very well include attempting to mitigate our impact on the Earth, though by some lights it's already too late for that.
Field Notes from a Catastrophe is a good starting point for understanding a complex, contentious, and if you'll pardon the expression, heated subject.