Elizabeth Kolbert. Field Notes From a Catastrophe. London: Bloomsbury, 2006. Hardcover, 210 pp.
This is a book about global warming and what will happen when we fail to turn things around. Global warming entered our vocabulary in the 1970s, but thus far, we have largely ignored its pressing reality.
The author, a staff writer for The New Yorker, has traveled the globe to get at the story behind the newspaper headlines. Interviewing experts from around the world, she put together a lively, if grim, picture of the actualities of global warming, which is already adversely affecting numerous species, including human beings.
If for no other reasons than self-interest, we must change the way we live. As Kolbert puts it: “Perhaps the most unpredictable feedback of all is the human one. With six billion people on the planet, the risks are everywhere apparent. A disruption in monsoon patterns, a shift in ocean currents, a major drought—any one of these could easily produce streams of refugees numbering in the millions. . . . 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.”
Kolbert makes a passionate plea, writes gracefully and even illustrates her arguments with numerous telling stories from her travels, but other writers have done the same. The question is whether this book, printed on “ancient-forest friendly paper,” will be read and heeded by enough people. One can only hope so, for all our sake.
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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