It seems that “Global Warning” and “Climate Change” are buzzwords that I’m hearing at every turn lately—in the State of the Union address, in my Facebook feed, and from the moms at carpool this fall who wanted to know why the weather was so darn HOT.
Of course, society being what it is, we can’t even all agree on whether or not this is an actual thing. For every person who can show you satellite images of shrinking ice caps, there is another armed with a NASA study that purportedly says the data is inconclusive. For every “End Global Warming” bumper sticker I pass, there is a contrasting “Stop Global Whining.”
We have camps of people who worry that we are destroying our own habitat, and those who feel that resources are here to be enjoyed, giving not a thought to conservation.
For a layperson, it can be a little tricky to decipher the truth. I am no scientist, and, falling smack in the middle of the political spectrum, my intellect on such things can definitely be swayed as conflicting evidence is presented. I am sure that for many like me, having a well-informed individual lay it all out for us would be very refreshing.
Enter Elizabeth Kolbert. Set to appear at the Newport Beach Public Library Jan. 30 and 31, Kolbert is the author of
the 2006 book, “Field Notes From a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change.”
Born of her award-winning series in The New Yorker, titled “The Climate of Man,” it cuts through all the rhetoric to get to the facts about what is happening with our planet, and examines what we as a species can do to address and possibly correct damages already done.
Having traveled the globe, from rainforests, to mountaintops, to the Great Barrier Reef alongside some of the world’s top scientists, Kolbert has seen first-hand the effects we humans have had on our world, and has amassed an impressive body of knowledge on the topic.
When she visits Newport this month, it will be to discuss her just-released book, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” which is already a New York Times bestseller, and has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-Fiction.
In “The Sixth Extinction,” Kolbert lays out what scientists have recognized as the precious five extinctions (periods of time during which the diversity of life on earth dramatically changed) and introduces the species that were lost during each period.
She then turns her attention to what is currently being monitored as the sixth extinction, an evolving event predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the eradication of the dinosaurs.
While striving to remain apolitical, Kolbert takes readers on a world tour, ticking off a list of ways that we are causing the death of our environment.
She says, “We are deciding, without quite meaning to, which evolutionary pathways will remain open and which will forever be closed. No other creature has ever managed this, and it will, unfortunately, be our most enduring legacy.”
Those interested in hearing more on the topic will want to mark their calendars, and attend Kolbert’s presentation as part of the library’s Witte Lecture Series.
She will be appearing on both Friday, January 30, and Saturday, January 31, at the Central Library.
Friday’s event will begin at 6:30 p.m., with music and a wine reception, followed by a lecture and Q&A. After the lecture, guests are invited to enjoy dessert, along with a book signing, sponsored by Lido Books. Tickets are $50 per person, or $45 for Library Foundation members.
On Saturday, attendees can enjoy a lecture and Q&A beginning at 2 p.m., followed by a book signing and dessert reception at 3:15 p.m. Tickets for this session are $35, or $30 with a membership discount.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit nbplfoundation.org, or call (949) 548-2411.
Edie Crabtree is an avid reader and the mother of three active boys. She can be reached at [email protected]