Thursday, April 10, 2008

Recent Reading: Field Notes from a Catastrophe

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.

1 comment:

T Scott said...

Field Notes... has been selected as our University Discussion book for the fall. All of the freshmen will get a copy when they come to register, and then on the first day of class, Kolbert will be here to do a presentation and then the freshmen will disperse into small group discussions. I'll be facilitating one of the discussion groups. I'm looking forward to reading the book, and even more to hearing what the students have to say about it.