Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)
Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BG98CCWF / http://www.buddtitlow.com
In January 2014, Elizabeth Kolbert, staff writer for the New Yorker and Williams College professor, published The Sixth Extinction which issued an unwavering clarion call for humans to clean up our acts … or else. As background, Kolbert explains that the dinosaurs were killed during the Fifth Extinction—which scientists suspect was caused by an asteroid. But now, we are living through an epoch that many scientists describe as the “Sixth Extinction”, and this time, human activity—emphasizing our use of fossil fuels in causing Climate Change—is the culprit. As one scientist put it: “We’re now the asteroid”.
“We are effectively undoing the beauty and the variety and the richness of the world which has taken tens of millions of years to reach,” Kolbert tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. ” … We’re sort of unraveling that. … We’re doing, it’s often said, a massive experiment on the planet, and we really don’t know what the end point is going to be.”
Elizabeth Kolbert—Educator / Communicator
When it comes to Climate Change, Elizabeth Kolbert and Al Gore have a great deal in common. In 2006, they both used their considerable literary talents to warn the world—in no uncertain terms—about the pending ravages of a warming atmosphere. While most people know about Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, relatively few have heard of Kolbert’s book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe. But make no mistake, Kolbert’s writing opened plenty of eyes and changed lots of minds about the severity of the Climate Change / Global Warming threat.
In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Doug Macdougall wrote the following about Field Notes: “[Elizabeth Kolbert’s] research is thorough. She gleaned much of her information from personal interviews and visits to localities around the world. … Kolbert tends not to use alarmist language to argue for a particular viewpoint, choosing instead to let her stories and interviews do the talking. … And by the end of the book, the reader will have no doubt that the problem [Global Warming] is a serious one.”
T. C. Boyle, author of Drop City added this, “… if you know anyone who still does not understand the reality and the scale of global warming, you will want to give them this book. … The hard, cold, sobering facts about global warming and its effects on the environment that sustains us. … Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe is nothing less than a Silent Spring for our time.” High praise, indeed!
Born in 1961, Kolbert lived in New York as a child—first in the Bronx and later moving to Larchmont, a suburb located 18 miles northeast of Midtown Manhattan. She attended Yale University for four years where she studied literature, then—after winning a prestigious Fulbright scholarship—she moved to Germany to study at the Universitat Hamburg.
A career journalist, Kolbert began working in Germany in 1983 as a stringer for the New York Times (NYT). In 1985 she moved back home to the NYT’s Metro Desk where she wrote the Metro Matters column from 1988 to 1991. She then served as the paper’s Bureau Chief in their Albany, New York office from 1992 to 1997.
Since 1999, Kolbert has been a staff writer at The New Yorker where her pieces have included political profiles, book reviews, commentary essays, plus extensive writing on Climate Change. She has written dozens of magazine pieces, including profiles of Senator Hillary Clinton and former Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. Her series on Global Warming, The Climate of Man, which appeared in The New Yorker’s spring 2005 issue, won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Magazine Award, and also provided the background material for her Field Notes from a Catastrophe.
In addition to her work for The New Yorker, Kolbert’s stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, and Mother Jones. Plus they 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 as a book in 2004. Most notably, Kolbert’s most recent book about Earth’s rapidly diminishing biodiversity—The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History—won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.
In the process of describing the history of the world’s mass extinctions, The Sixth Extinction combines intellectual and natural history with reporting from field locations all over the world. Throughout this book, Kolbert turns her emphasis away from Climate Change to focus on another snafu that’s currently bludgeoning the natural world—the widespread decline in biodiversity. Bluntly stated, we’re currently losing species at a rate of 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than unassisted nature was doing before humans came along to contaminate the broth of global life. According to Kolbert, while humans weren’t responsible for the first five mass extinctions, our fingerprints are all over the one that’s occurring right now.
As Kolbert alludes to in The Sixth Extinction, the fifth extinction—the one that wiped out the dinosaurs—was believed to have been caused by a six-mile wide asteroid colliding with Earth. But this time humans appear to be serving as the asteroid that is threatening to wipe out 20 percent to 50 percent of the world’s current species.
This landmark work—which also first took shape as an article in The New Yorker—won many other prestigious awards, including the New York Times 2014 Top Ten Best Book of the Year and Number One on the Guardian‘s list of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of all time. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle awards for the best books of 2014. Much high acclaim that we all should pay heed while we are trying to short circuit the Earth’s Climate Change crisis!
Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest award-winning books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.