Field Notes from a Catastrophe book review

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:43 PM GMT on July 14, 2006

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Elizabeth Kolbert is a writer for the New Yorker magazine. A three-part series she wrote for the magazine in 2005 has been converted into a short, well-researched, and very readable book on climate change called, "Field Notes from a Catastrophe" ($15 from amazon.com). The science presented is excellent, and I couldn't find any errors. Kolbert visits leading climate change scientists in the field, spending time in the Arctic, Greenland, Dr. James Hansen's laboratory, and in United Nations climate change meetings. We get to see the science the way these scientists see it, which is a very powerful way to emphasize the major climate changes that are already underway on our planet.

Kolbert delivers a memorable description of a visit to Alaska, where record temperatures have begun melting permafrost that formed at the beginning of the last ice age, 120,000 years ago. She visits the remote island of Sarichef, five miles off the coast of the Seward Peninsula. A subsistence hunting village has existed there for centuries. However, the entire population of 591 must be relocated to the mainland because the island is eroding away. The problem? Lack of the customary sea ice in the fall has allowed storm surges from the powerful storms that hit during that season to push far inland. Kolbert talks to an Inuit hunter named John Keogak, who lives in Canada's Northwest Territories, 500 miles north of the Arctic circle. He and his fellow hunters started seeing robins for the first time a few years ago. The Inuits have no word for the bird in their language. Kolbert travels to "drunken forests" where the trees lean at crazy angles due to the collapse of the permafrost beneath. In one of many of the odd and amusing observations the book is sprinkled with, she writes:

A few blocks beyond the drunken forest, we came to a house where the front yard showed clear signs of ice wedge melt-off. The owner, trying to make the best of things, had turned the yard into a miniature golf course.

As the title implies, this is not a cheerful book, and Kolbert paints a gloomy picture of the how climate change is affecting the planet. I highly recommend the book for those interested in reading about climate change. Three and a half stars.

Jeff Masters

Permafrost Collapse (akalaska)
Climate change is causing rapid coastal erosion in the Arctic. As the permafrost melts, the land falls into the ocean. (Elson Lagoon, Barrow, Alaska)
Permafrost Collapse
Coastal Erosion (akalaska)
A scientist is taking high-precision GPS measurements of coastal erosion in the Arctic, due to melting permafrost. The coast is eroding at the rate of 3-12 feet per year.
Coastal Erosion

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473. txweather
7:09 PM CDT on July 14, 2006
For the record 2 storms have formed in the Pacific and later moved into the Gulf.
472. SafeInTexas
11:59 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
“Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.”

Dr. Laurence J. Peter

Is what I should have posted in the first place
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470. Alec
7:54 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
Hey punk! I remember you from a yr ago during the Emily episode!
469. Bamatracker
11:53 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
i dont know whats going on alec. I just emailed Aaron so hopefully he can help. Sorry everyone...wasnt trying to make the blog about me!!
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468. punkasshans
11:52 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
I find ST very entertaining too. It is funny to see how full of himself he is. It makes me wonder who he really is in REAL life (not on the web) and how he really acts.

Anyway, thats interesting that the CMC has the storm moving back from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Very rare for that to happen, will have to wait and see.
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467. Alec
7:51 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
I dont think if it is possible Bama....some other bloggers who have multiple handles have claimed they needed to set up a new email account for each handle....
466. Bamatracker
11:50 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
the problem is i only have one email address. you cant have two handles on one email can you?
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465. ShawnX
11:41 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
Wly shear will remain in force. The ITCZ remains too south. No tropical conditions favourable for the foreseeable future.

I think this pattern will remain in force for the rest of this month.
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464. Alec
7:47 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
You must have 2 different email accounts to set up 2 ids....(unless im totally unaware of something)
463. weatherguy03
7:48 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
Cool, GulfScott has been reading my blog!..LOL
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462. Bamatracker
11:46 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
I do have two names...i wish i only had one. I dont know how to get back to BWW
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460. Alec
7:41 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
weird....I've never heard of someone's handle going crazy like that.....You can ask Aaron about it...
459. Raysfan70
7:42 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
Go Outrocket. Such good words of wisdom.

don't feed ST. Just makes his ego get bigger. LOL
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458. Bamatracker
11:42 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
SJ..yea its me..new name i guess since i cant get BWW back.
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456. chefjeff
7:37 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
To Quote from Jerry Clower, "Some people are educated beyond their intelligence" !
455. StormJunkie
11:40 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
Evening Bama, what is this about you being bww?
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16372
454. Bamatracker
11:40 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
Alec...i have no clue...i signed on today and now i am bamatracker!! any help figuring this would be appreciated!
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453. StormJunkie
11:37 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
That is awsome SIT whos said it?

Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16372
452. highndry
11:38 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
Okay Gang -


I'm outta here. Gotta get going, the missus wants me to pick up some steaks - and that IS written in stone.

Laters,
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451. Alec
7:38 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
Bamatracker, you said you were Bamaweatherwatcher.....how did your handle change?
450. Bamatracker
11:37 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
evening SJ!
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449. SafeInTexas
11:35 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
“Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.”
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448. StormJunkie
11:31 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
Posted By: IKE at 11:12 PM GMT on July 14, 2006.
True. It's a wonder he isn't banned.


Once you learn that this is who ST is, he is entertaining at times.

He does not know everything, contrary to what his mind says, and he will proove himself wrong.

WARNING, I GURANTEE, THAT WITH OUT A DOUBT ST WILL BE HERE IN THE NEXT TWO WEEK WITH ANOTHER RANT. THAT IS WRITTEN IN STONE AS I HAVE TOLD YOU A GAZZILION TIMES.

StormJunkie.com Models, imagery, marine data, wind data, and even some WU blogger Wilma video.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16372
445. highndry
11:26 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
On the 2006 hurricane fizzle (so far) -

Okay, yes it's been a slow season compared to last year, but four things to keep in mind. First, the second and third most damaging years for hurricanes didn't even get started 'till August - it ain't over yet. Second, the very conditions that are keeping hurricanes from forming are giving Philly a good soaking and if there's one city in America that needs a good cleaning out it's Philadelphia. Third, if the season does get cranking, it might make the yuppies with the disposable income want to dispose of it somewhere else and keep the fragile Gulf shorelines from becoming Miami. Fourth, the Gulf states have been hammered two years in a row now. It's about time mama nature cut 'em a break.
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444. txweather
6:29 PM CDT on July 14, 2006
Yap, I remember that. I actually really thought it had a chance to get close enough for me to chase it, but alas no.
443. Alec
7:27 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
hey txweather! Remember last yr? You along with some others were here discussing Emily around this time!
442. txweather
6:26 PM CDT on July 14, 2006
Good evening all, I see we all have our favorite friend here. Where would we be w/o his wisdom.:)
What great prediction did the master prognosticator make now. I know i could go through the blog, but you all explaining it is much more entertaining.
441. sandcrab39565
11:18 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
Well folks all I can say is whew lets keep em not forming I have been up to my neck in recovery.
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440. highndry
11:20 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
Not start any trouble but the first few days Emilly was forecast to go directly in our direction..

true, but it scooted south before turning north. I don't think anyone counted on it going as far south as it did before turning north a priori. I'm sure our good buddy ST knew it was going to scoot south before shooting north, figured it wouldn't hit Texas because of the building high and split the difference for N.O. In the event though, it cranked WAY south and almost got snuffed out by South America before turning and got caught up in a helluva steering current that slammed it into the Yucatan instead of shooting the gap - and then things went straight to hell.
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439. Bamatracker
11:19 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
well kinda but not quite hurricaneroman
Link
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438. guygee
11:22 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
Another active day in the tropics...blog. I was thinking of making a graph showing tropical blog activity for 2005 vs. 2006;)

Some very good posts here today though, after scrolling though 400+ comments. Some people are not as funny as they think, but I can always rely on certain others here to be very informative, so thanks to those folks...off to enjoy my evening now, check back later...
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437. Alec
7:20 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
With a strong ridge to Emily's North, It drove her West all the way to Mexico(after hitting the Yucatan)......
436. supercell216
11:21 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
LOL weatherguy03!!! I must go and check the archives on that!!!
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435. weatherguy03
7:20 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
True, but he had it hitting Florida when it was almost near the Yucatan!..LOL
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434. HurricaneRoman
7:18 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
Not start any trouble but the first few days Emilly was forecast to go directly in our direction..
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433. highndry
11:15 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
slow day for the tropics though...how come its always the slow ones when ST shows up?

Probably because he's trying to prove his point - either that or IRL he's some pathetic computer geek modeler at Sandia with nothing better to do on days like these.
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432. supercell216
11:15 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
Probably b/c he knows if there is a storm to track he will get it wrong just like Alberto this year and Emily last year (according to everyone here, I wasn't posting last year).
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431. Bamatracker
11:12 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
slow day for the tropics though...how come its always the slow ones when ST shows up?
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430. IKE
6:12 PM CDT on July 14, 2006
True. It's a wonder he isn't banned.
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429. Alec
7:11 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
LOL Bama.....It's ok...I'm used to it! Last yr I was being named in every post by ST....Was really exciting to be on here for the first time last mid-July!
428. rxse7en
7:09 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
Stormtop must be Dr. Masters' alter-ego! Why else would he be allowed to stay on here and insult people?! :D








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427. IKE
6:11 PM CDT on July 14, 2006
It's all about his ego...heightened by his prediction on Katrina...now it's gone to his head...
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426. weatherguy03
7:10 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
Nah, nobody messed up anything. Its all cool. We all have the passion for weather and I hope we are learning something new everyday here.
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425. Bamatracker
11:09 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
sorry us crazies came in and messed yall up weatherguy and alec...didn't mean too you all are just fun to be around!
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424. supercell216
11:08 PM GMT on July 14, 2006
WOW weatherguy03 LOL!!! Guess he didn't see the 1022 mb high in the Gulf for days and days!

Hey Alec!
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423. Alec
7:07 PM EDT on July 14, 2006
It's called EGO! Yes bob, my first storm on here was Emily last yr! Sure was the good ole times!

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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