Climate Change Conference, Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe

Elizabeth Kolbert's book about climate change provides background to the upcoming Copenhagen conference.

My brother Jon will be heading to the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen on Sunday.

Jon and other members of the Noor photo agency will have a pair of major exhibits at the conference.

He and the other photographers have traveled around the globe to document the consequences of global warming.

Jon’s contribution focused on going to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada.  I wrote earlier this year about  Tar Sands, Andrew Nikiforuk’s book of outrage at the environmental destruction and many social ills that have accompanied this method of oil mining.

This month’s National Geographic has an accessible and useful article that explains the concept of global warming in terms of a bathtub.  As the metaphor goes, the carbon emissions are the water, and the soil and environment are the drain. 

The problem is that the water is in danger of flooding the bathtub.

MIT professor John Sterman developed the idea to people to help people increase their awareness, and, from there, to take constructive action. 

For those familiar with the metaphor or wanting to learn more, I recommend Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe.

Like the Noor members, the New Yorker correspondent traveled around the world to depict and explain the behavior behind, and actions needed to partially avert, climate change. 

Kolbert’s prose is not always the most electrifying, and can even be a bit plodding in places.  She does write with moral urgency,though, and a clearly heartfelt desire to help avoid some of global warming’s more brutal consequences.


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