This Seattle Arts & Lectures special event features a lecture by journalist Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe and the award-winning New Yorker series on global warming. New York Times journalist Timothy Egan will then lead a panel exploring opportunities for action.
Elizabeth Kolbert traveled from Alaska to Greenland and visited top scientists to get to the heart of the debate over global warming. In explaining the science, she unpacks the politics and presents the personal tales of those affected most—the people living near the poles who are watching their world disappear.
In addition to Kolbert, the panelists include:
- Timothy Egan, moderator, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for journalism and author of five books, including The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, a finalist for the National Book Award.
- K.C. Golden, policy director for Climate Solutions, director of the Northwest Climate Connections network, and former energy policy director for the State of Washington.
- Stephen Gardiner, University of Washington professor of philosophy, a specialist in ethics, environmental ethics, and political philosophy.
Excerpt from Field Notes to a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change (2006)
That same day, I flew with Romanovsky by helicopter to a small island in the Arctic Ocean, where he had set up yet another monitoring site. The island, just north of the seventieth parallel, was a bleak expanse of mud dotted with little clumps of yellowing vegetation. It was filled with ice wedges that were starting to melt, creating a network of polygonal depressions. The weather was cold and wet, so while Romanovsky hunched under his tarp I stayed in the helicopter and chatted with the pilot. He had lived in Alaska since 1967. “It’s definitely gotten warmer since I’ve been here,” he told me. “I have really noticed that.”
When Romanovsky emerged, we took a walk around the island. Apparently, in the spring it had been a nesting site for birds, because everywhere we went there were bits of eggshell and piles of droppings. The island was only about ten feet above sea level, and at the edges it dropped off sharply into the water. Romanovsky pointed out a spot along the shore where the previous summer a series of ice wedges had been exposed. They had since melted, and the ground behind them had given way in a cascade of black mud. In a few years, he said, he expected more ice wedges would be exposed, and then these would melt, causing further erosion. Although the process was different in its mechanics from what was going on in Shishmaref, it had much the same cause and, according to Romanovsky, was likely to have the same result. “Another disappearing island,” he said, gesturing toward some freshly exposed bluffs. “It’s moving very, very fast.”
Selected WorkField Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change (2006)The Prophet of Love and Other Tales of Power and Deceit (2004)LinksBloomsbury USA