Elizabeth Kolbert on Climate Change

Elizabeth Kolbert on Climate Change

Past Event: Tuesday, December 5, 2006

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

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SAL Presents

Sponsored by North Cascades Institute.

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

Grist Magazine Interview

Field Notes from a Catstrophe (review)

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

By Car

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5 via Westbound I-90
    Take the 2C exit for I-5 North. Follow signs for Madison Street/Convention Place and merge right onto Seventh Avenue. Turn left onto Madison Street. Proceed three blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue four blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Public Transit (Bus & Light Rail)
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.


Open Captioning is an option for people who have hearing loss, where a captioning screen displaying the words that are spoken or sung is placed on stage. This option is present at every event at Benaroya Hall in our 2019/20 Season.

Assisted Listening Devices (ALDs) are devices that people with hearing loss use in conjunction with their hearing device (hearing aids or cochlear implants). Benaroya Hall has an infrared hearing system, which transmits sound by light beams. Headsets are available in The Boeing Company Gallery coat check and the Head Usher stations in both lobbies.

Sign Language Interpretation is available upon request for Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing individuals. To make a request for ASL interpretation, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10. Please note: we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure interpretation.

Wheelchair Accessible Seating and Accessible Restrooms are available in all sections at our venues, and our venues are fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. Guide and service dogs are also welcome. Among other features, Benaroya Hall has designated parking spaces adjacent to elevators in their parking garage. Elevators with Braille signage go to all levels within the Hall. A unisex restroom is also available. For more details on their accessibility features, click here.

We are pleased to offer these accessibility services at our venues, and they are provided at no additional cost to ticket holders. Please contact us with any questions and feedback about how we can be more accessible and inclusive.  Our Patron Services Manager is available at boxoffice@lectures.org, or Monday-Thursday from 10:00am – 5:00pm, and Fridays from 10:00am – 1:00pm, at 206.621.2230×10.