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Field Notes from a Catastrophe

Man, Nature, and Climate Change

Elizabeth Kolbert

Bloomsbury USA

Field Notes from a Catastrophe Download image

ISBN10: 1620409887
ISBN13: 9781620409886


320 Pages



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Elizabeth Kolbert's environmental classic Field Notes from a Catastrophe first developed out of a groundbreaking, National Magazine Award-winning three-part series in The New Yorker. She expanded it into a still-concise yet richly researched and damning book about climate change: a primer on the greatest challenge facing the world today.

But in the years since, the story has continued to develop; the situation has become more dire, even as our understanding grows. Now, Kolbert returns to the defining book of her career. She'll add a chapter bringing things up-to-date on the existing text, plus she'll add three new chapters—on ocean acidification, the tar sands, and a Danish town that's gone carbon neutral—making it, again, a must-read for our moment.


Praise for Field Notes from a Catastrophe

"Among the few irreplaceable volumes yet written about climate change." —Bill McKibben, Boston Globe

"If you have time this year for just one book on science, nature, or the environment, this should be it." —San Diego Union-Tribune

"A perfect primer on global warming. It might be the most important book you read this year." —Cleveland Plain Dealer

"[Elizabeth Kolbert's] research is thorough. She gleaned much of her information from personal interviews and visits to localities around the world. Although she is clearly distressed by the lack of concern of the Bush administration about global warming and climate change, Kolbert tends not to use alarmist language to argue for a particular viewpoint, choosing instead to let her stories and interviews do the talking. That is an effective approach to a topic that could, in less-skilled hands, make for dull reading. And by the end of the book, the reader will have no doubt that the problem is a serious one."—Doug Macdougall, The Chronicle of Higher Education

"The hard, cold, sobering facts about global warming and its effects on the environment that sustains us. Kolbert's Field Notes from a Catastrophe is nothing less than a Silent Spring for our time."—T. C. Boyle, author of Drop City

"Reporters talk about the trial of the decade or the storm of the century. But for the planet we live on, the changes now unfolding are of a kind and scale that have not been seen in thousands of years—not since the retreat of the last ice age. In Field Notes from a Catastrophe, Elizabeth Kolbert gives us a clear, succinct, and invaluable report from the front. Even if you have followed the story for years, you will want to read it. And if you know anyone who still does not understand the reality and the scale of global warming, you will want to give them this book."—Jonathan Weiner, author of The Beak of the Finch

"In this riveting view of the apocalypse already upon us, Kolbert mesmerizes with her poetic cadence."—Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., author of Crimes Against Nature

"Reading Field Notes from a Catastrophe during the 2005 hurricane season is what it must have been like to read Silent Spring forty years ago. When you put down this book, you'll see the world through different eyes."—Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind

"This country needs more writers like Elizabeth Kolbert."—Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections

"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 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."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads