UCSB Libraries         UCSB Reads for Earth Day

2007 Theme: GLOBAL WARMING, Science & Society


Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change,
New York: Bloomsbury, 2006
paperback edition, 2007

This book first appeared in the New Yorker as a three-part series on global warming. It is a balanced, scientifically sound and eminently readable account that has received high praise from both the scientific community and the general public. Kolbert explains the science behind global warming and brings it to life as she presents stories of those who are being impacted the most. Notes from a Catastrophe is a timely, authoritative, sobering report which has a relevance to every discipline. Kolbert asks us: "As the effects of global warming become more and more difficult to ignore, will we react by finally fashioning a global response? Or will we retreat into ever narrower and more destructive forms of self-interest?"

"The reader [of Field Notes ] is introduced to some of the world's leading climate researchers who explain the dangers in reasonably nontechnical language but without sacrificing scientific accuracy."
Dr. Jim Hansen, head of the NASA Institute for Space Studies

"A riveting view of the apocalypse already upon us. Kolbert mesmerizes with her poetic cadence as she closes the coffin on the arguments of the global warming skeptics."
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

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

"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, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Beak of the Finch

Publisher's Notes
In writing that is both clear and unbiased, Kolbert — an acclaimed New Yorker journalist — approaches global warming from every angle. She travels to the Arctic, the North of England, Holland and Puerto Rico, 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, in an eerie foreshadowing, are watching their worlds disappear.

Scientists have been warning the world since the late 1970s that the build-up 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 for all the countries in the world, but perhaps especially the USA, to face up to the realities of global warming and to secure our future. By the end of the century, the world will probably 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.

Field Notes from a Catastrophe brings the environment into the consciousness of the reader and asks what, if anything, can be done, and how we can save our planet.

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Last modified: 01/31/07