Sunday, November 8, 2009

Field Notes II: Chapters 2-3

If I were a member of a jury assembled to determine whether or not the defendant, global warming, is guilty of being a real and serious danger to society, and if Kolbert's book were the evidence presented by the prosecution, I would have to find the defendant guilty.

The most persuasive pieces of evidence for me are the testimony of the prosecution's witnesses and the defendant's long and documented history of concerning behavior.

Keogak's moving testimony plays on the heart strings of the jury when he says, "It was good at the start--warmer winters, you know--but now everything is going so fast...Our children may not have a future. I mean, all young people, put it that way. It's not just happening in the Arctic. It's going to happen all over the world. The whole world is going too fast."

Kolbert also has a sort of poetic way of demonstrating the way in which the defendant has infiltrated the daily lives of its victims when she states, "Then, a few years ago, for the first time, people began to see robins, a bird for which the Inuit in this region have no word."

Kolbert also does a fine job of combating the notion that fear of global warming is the product of a recent, yet popular, scientific folly. She does this by evoking the research of John Tyndall and Svante Arrhenius, whose research eluded to global warming over a century ago.

That being said, I feel that Kolbert's case is that of the prosecution, with little defense, which does make her biased. Though she makes a great case, the fact remains that global temperatures have fluctuated before with little explanation, and scientists admit there are aspects of global warming that they do not fully understand. Though Kolbert does mention these holes in her case, she does not explore the possible implications of them.

I am not critical of Kolbert's biased because I think she has every right to feel the way she does. She did her research and has come to her own conclusion. As I said before, based on the prosecution's case, I would find the defendant guilty. However, it would be unethical for any jury to come to a verdict without hearing the defense's case, which i feel is absent from Kolbert's book.

As far as the writing quality and journalistic aspects of Kolbert's book, I think she has done an excellent job. It is clear from her inclusion of anecdotes and irrelevant, yet interesting background information that she has thoroughly researched her topics. More than that, she demonstrates a sincere curiosity and respect for her sources, which only strengthens her case.

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