Sunday, November 22, 2009

modern vs. ancient times

As these examples of how global warming is affecting our world, continue to build I wonder what the point of the book is. I can honestly get the main points of the chapters just by skimming. Although the curse of Akkad was interesting I did not find it pertinent...

Thinking about civilization and how CO2 was at one point higher than it was today is interesting...and gives us an idea as to how life may really change if we do reach those levels from ancient times, when dinosaurs did roam. Maybe one day Plattsburgh will be buried under years of earth, for aliens to find 400,000 years from now.

I don't think floating houses are a genuinely innovative idea in the long-run. I mean how many people can get by in this manner. I think that Kolbert tries to provide interesting examples, but sometimes they are out of sequence. This book is also, not very pro-active. At least at this point. I mean she gives us an abundance of situations but tells nothing of how to cure these problems, when it will be too late to turn it all around and what is the single best solution, or some of the options both technologically and politically that could change her observations.

As a new-comer to the lingo and geographically spellbinding world of global warming it is hard to comprehend how everything is connected when Kolbert does nothing to weave a similar strand or go back on previous discussion to show how two events relate.

I think, as well as most students, that the book has an interesting writing style that is not appropriate to science writing. Especially a topic that is so timely, to talk about it in a manner so casual as that of a cafe conversation is not effective, for me (someone trying to grasp the large idea with a look at alternatives, ideals, and a pursuance of action).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Butterfly and the Toad

Chapter 4:
-I thought, once again, that Kolbert's writing makes a very interesting divide between people who are living in rural areas, and the more native land dwellers that rely more on nature. In this chapter, she makes the point that most of us live in urban areas where it is hard to observe biological changes. At the same time, her descriptions of the rest of the world makes us realize that while grander observations await us, we can still see change within our own backyard. Here she gives the example from Ithaca, NY.
-It is important to think about the fact that Kolbert could not have sat in an office in the middle of a city to get the information she writes about. She had to trek and search through the wilderness and the history of the environment through archives and academics to get this information. For example, she talks about the Lepidoptera Distribution Maps Scheme. I was blown away by this. It is interesting that people muster up enough enthusiasm on such a technically detailed research area.
She goes out of her way to tell us what the butterfly is called in other languages.
-Global Warming can be observed on the small scale too. It's not just about Glaciers and mass climate change but its about invasive species and how different animals are affected by these changes...beyond that of "phenotypic plasticity" the point of driving evolution.
-I thought this chapter gave very vivid examples of how other life, beside our own, is disrupted by global warming...for the average person reading...this book opens your mind to a lot of different ways of looking at global warming.
-Her language is really effective. Amongst the scientific terminology her descriptions are creative and work to enhance the readers experience.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Science gone Awry

-It is always a question to me as to what the purpose of science is supposed to be. It seems that observations should lead to predictions which should lead to preventative measures. It seems that science should be able to save and protects us from our shortcomings. In the case of global warming I am puzzled as to how we could not have foreseen the effects centuries ago. Not that it would have stopped industrialization but maybe it could have yielded suburban sprawl or pollution and waste. Science is kicking us in the ass these days...threatening us to clean up after ourselves. This is why I appreciated chapter two for discussing earlier scientists who made observation, invention and phenomenal identifications. Even then, people were spreading the word on glacial movement and the greenhouse effect.
-I like that the author identifies recordings like the Keeling Curve and places like Swiss Camp, giving background and information about why these are strong connections and of noteworthy importance.
-One thing to discuss in class could be the fact that this sort of journalism allows, amidst the scientific descriptions, the space for profiles of important people that are dedicating their lives to the field of global warming...inspiring change and hopefully helping people to realize that it takes more than just a few ambitious individuals.
-Also I think it is important to include sort of "outsiders of a civilization"like the Inuit hunter, a fisherman, herders and people living in Greenland, people who don't have alcohol out of strict necessity, people who are close with the earth and are observing its changes in their daily lives.
-Another discussion could be about how you can make journalism creative by using interesting metaphors. For example Kolbert calls the antenna "bristling with equipment, like a high-tech Christmas tree.
-Also, when is the best time to report on certain issues? Kolbert is arriving in the middle of the Global Warming debate, arriving when climate has gone through immeasurable ways we probably have not yet noted. Perhaps this is what gives her writing so much substance.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Field Notes

First of all I like the fact that Kolbert mentions that the book evolved from writing three articles for the New Yorker Magazine. It is good, in journalism, to think about where stories can take you. Often times journalists find themselves upon ground breaking research gaining insight into the most pertinent of current events...and eventually you get good enough to be the authority on it! It's funny where inspirations are born. To me this is where real journalism is born. An individual, experiencing and documenting a worldly concern with the most reliable and hands on approach. This woman is literally investsigating for herself, becoming part of the problem and going distances to live the truth of the information.

"In the same way that global warming has gradually ceased to be merely a theory, so, too, its impacts are no longer just hypothetical," this quote really lays to rest the point the author is making. We have come a long way in research and it is not the time to pretend that global warming is just a conspiracy. The writing is clearly authoritative, and I like the anecdotal flow where the author throws in bits of what she has learned through experiencing another culture. So at the same time that the writing is scientific, it seems like travel writing!

The last quote really set in the element of fear. People truly do need to consider other perspectives when it comes to issues like this. There is no real inititative to change, but maybe, just maybe fear could drive people to save themselves.

I guess it just seems that by the time scientists finish researching and figuring just how and what effects global warming it will be too late.