City Club Warms to its Reading

In April, City Club’s book club, Citizens Read, will take up Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe, copies of which can be purchased at City Club events or from the City Club office (10 percent of the purchase price will benefit the Club). Read the book in April and then meet to discuss with moderator Tim LaSalle, director of Northwest Earth Institute, at 7 p.m., Monday, April 24 at City Club Commons (901 SW Washington St.). The discussion is free and open to the public; RSVP to City Club’s Office Manager Tim DuRoche at 503-228-7231, ext. 103, or


Known for her insightful and thought-provoking journalism, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert now tackles the controversial subject of global warming.  Americans have been warned since the late 1970s that the buildup of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere threatens to melt the polar ice sheets and irreversibly change our climate.  With little done since then to alter this dangerous course, now is the moment to salvage our future.  By the end of the century, the world will likely be hotter than it’s been in the last two million years, and the sweeping consequences of this change will determine the future of life on earth for generations to come.

In writing that is both clear and unbiased, Kolbert approaches this monumental problem from every angle. She travels to the Arctic, interviews researchers and environmentalists, 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. Growing out of a groundbreaking three-part series for the New Yorker, Field Notes from a Catastrophe 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.


Last spring, The New Yorker published a three-part series about global climate change by Elizabeth Kolbert.  This January, she followed up with an article entitled Butterfly Lessons, which examined the effects of climate change on butterflies, mosquitos and frogs.  It was the most chilling — and persuasive — article on global warming I have read.   Now, those articles have been expanded into a book-length treatise on global climate change and its effects on the environment.

In recognition of Earth Day, City Club continues its discussion of global climate change by reading Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Castrophe.  As we consider her apocalyptic view of the future, she asks us:  "As the effects of global warming become more and more difficult to ignore, will we react by finally fashioning a global response?  Or will we retreat into ever narrower and more destructive forms of self-interest?” —  Wendy Radmacher-Willis

One response to “City Club Warms to its Reading”

  1. One climate “scientist”, global warming proponent (formally global cooling proponent):
    “So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, deamatic statements, and make little mention of an doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is betewwn being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”
    Discover mag. Oct. 1989
    see: (3 meg file)

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