Sunday, February 9th, 2014

I’ve found I can’t help but read news stories and books about global climate change. They literally compel me to stop what I’m doing and read, I guess because the premise that we are poisoning the only planet we will ever have to live on is so obvious that I would always like to know why the subject isn’t compelling to everyone. In spite of all the news stories, books, and especially in spite of all the noise generated by social media, I still haven’t figured it out. But I keep reading.

The author of “Field Notes From a Catastrophe,” Elizabeth Kolbert, has been traveling the world talking to people who have made it their life’s work to find out if the global climate is going to change so drastically that we will have a hard time continuing to live here. The answer, it turns out, is yes, very probably. “A hard time living here,” by the way, doesn’t mean we’ll have to weatherproof our homes or wear more sunscreen, stuff like that. It means drought, famine, disease, extinction – Cormac McCarthy kinds of “hard times,” just to be clear.

But it also turns out that we can do something about it because the climate change that we’re observing is a result of all the crap we release into the air. Then the question becomes, What can we do, How can we do it, and When do we do it? See how one question became three there? And then, for example, “When do we do it?” becomes, “Who, me? Right now? Why don’t those guys have to do it? How can that be fair? Why should I have to pay when they don’t?” It’s a hydra-headed problem that Kolbert addresses very directly. I liked her no-nonsense way of avoiding a sensationalist tone that others so easily slide into when talking about a subject like this.

And I liked that she made her argument very concisely; I started reading it on a lazy Sunday last weekend and finished it off this morning. It didn’t take me a week; those were the only two days I spent reading it. I spent my evenings this week reading a space opera, “The Hydrogen Sonata,” by Iain M. Banks and finishing off another chapter of “The Education of Henry Adams.” I’m an easily distracted reader.

Field Notes From A Catastrophe | 9:44 am CDT
Category: books
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