“WE ARE THE ASTEROID”
Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist and Author
Tuesday, November 3, 2015, 7pm
Free & Open to the Public
Reception and book signing to follow
The Earth changes slowly, except for extraordinary moments when it doesn't. At times of sudden change, vast numbers of species have died out. There have been five major mass extinctions over the last half a billion years. We are now living through the sixth. The rate of change on the planet today is faster than at any time since the asteroid impact that ended the reign of the dinosaurs. This time around, we're the asteroid. We are warming the planet, cutting down rainforests, and moving plants and animals between continents. Look around: this is what mass extinction looks like.
Co-sponsored by The Center for Leadership, Teaching & Learning and the Office of the Dean of Special Programs
Elizabeth 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), 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. She 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. Her most recent book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, a book about mass extinctions that weaves intellectual and natural history with reporting in the field, was a New York Times 2014 Top Ten Best Book of the Year. The Sixth Extinction also won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction category and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle awards for the best books of 2014. As with Field Notes from a Catastrophe, The Sixth Extinction began as an article in The New Yorker.
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 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 won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s magazine award. Also in 2006, she received the National Academy of Sciences Communication Award in the newspaper/magazine category and was awarded a Lannan Writing Fellowship. In September 2010, Kolbert received the prestigious Heinz Award which recognizes individuals who are addressing global change caused by the impact of human activities and natural processes on the environment. She has also been awarded a 2010 National Magazine Award in the Reviews and Criticism category for her work in The New Yorker, and the Sierra Club’s 2011 David R. Brower Award. She recently won the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism from the American Geophysical Union.
Elizabeth Kolbert’s stories have also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, and Mother Jones, and have been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and The Best American Political Writing. She edited The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009. 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.
Kolbert never editorializes, but her message comes through all the louder for her
restraint: Given what we know about climate change and how we, particularly we Americans,
are responding, one can only conclude that we have deliberately chosen to destroy
our environment and ourselves.”
— Seattle Times
“Sober, detailed, and alarming without being alarmist.”
“On the burgeoning shelf of cautionary but occasionally alarmist books warning about
the consequences of dramatic climate change, Kolbert’s calmly persuasive reporting
stands out for its sobering clarity… this unbiased overview is a model for writing
about an urgent environmental crisis”
— Publishers Weekly
Reception and book signing to follow