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Climate change, the reality of global warming, and the writing life are topics of a lecture by author Elizabeth Kolbert. Thursday, September 25, 2008

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—“If you have time this year for just one book on science, nature, or the environment, Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change should be it,” wrote Naomi Oreskes in the San Diego Union-Tribune (12 March 2006).

The book’s author, Elizabeth Kolbert, will deliver the annual William Starr Lecture at Vassar on Thursday, September 25, at 5:30 pm, preceded by a Q&A session at 3:00 pm. Both programs will be held on the second floor of the Students’ Building, and are free and open to the public.

“The challenge is how to make global warming vivid to people, how to make it real,” said Kolbert in an interview with the Natural Resources Defense Council. While researching her book, Kolbert travelled to the Arctic where examples of global warming are magnified—whole villages must be relocated because floating ice is eroding the coastline; homes are falling into holes from melting permafrost; and Kolbert’s own tent filled with water produced from a melting ice cap.

About the William Starr Lecture

During the lecture Kolbert will not only discuss her research, but also the process of writing. Vassar’s annual Starr lecture, which is part of college’s First Year Program, is designed to bring a distinguished author to campus to speak to first-year students about the writing life.

About Field Notes from a Catastrophe

Kolbert traveled from Alaska to Greenland, and visited top scientists, to get to the heart of the debate over global warming. Growing out of a groundbreaking three-part series in The New Yorker (which won the 2005 National Magazine Award in the category Public Interest), her book Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change brings the environment into the consciousness of the American people and asks what, if anything, can be done, and how we can save our planet.

Kolbert explains the science and the studies, draws frightening parallels to lost ancient civilizations, unpacks the politics, and presents the personal tales of those who are being affected most—the people who make their homes near the poles and, in an eerie foreshadowing, are watching their worlds disappear. Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change was chosen as one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year (2006) by The New York Times Book Review.

About the author

Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1999. She has written dozens of pieces for the magazine, including profiles of Senator Hillary Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Her series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” appeared in The New Yorker in the spring of 2005, and has won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s magazine award, as well as the 2006 National Academy of Sciences Communication Award in the newspaper/magazine category.  She has also been awarded a Lannan Writing Fellowship (2006).

Kolbert’s stories have also appeared in The New York Times MagazineVogue, and Mother Jones, and have been anthologized in “The Best American Science and Nature Writing” and “The Best American Political Writing.” A collection of her work, The Prophet of Love and Other Tales of Power and Deceit, was published in 2004. Prior to joining the staff of The New Yorker, Kolbert was a political reporter for The New York Times. She is a graduate of Yale University. Elizabeth Kolbert lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and three sons.

Posted by Office of Communications Wednesday, September 10, 2008