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Field Notes from a Catastrophe

Field Notes from a Catastrophe is a publication that talks about man, climatic changes, and nature. The book by Elizabeth Kolbert, talks about the climatic changes in today’s society, and how it has affected the environment. Kolbert has travelled to different locations across the globe in an attempt to find out first hand about the effect of climatic changes in different locations. In her travels, she has observed the major apparent effects of climatic changes. They include; thawing permafrost, changes in sea levels, and increased forest fires sue to low precipitation. In her book, Kolbert brings in focus the causes and effects of global climatic changes to the environment as a result of man’s natural and economic activities, and reasons as to why control strategies should be undertaken.  

Kolbert’s main claim in the book is that massive climatic changes have occurred over the last few centuries causing massive negative effects to the environment. These changes have been brought about by man’s activities in the immediate environment. Human beings have for so long failed to take into account the effects of their activities to the global environment. This has resulted to irreparable damages in the environment, such as the global warming. Global warming has had adverse effects on people’s health. It has intensive consequences to the survival of both flora and fauna in different ecosystems across the globe. The author gives supporting reasons for her claims. She uses factual evidences from various scientists across the globe.

In justifying her reasons, Kolbert uses plenty of scientific data to prove her theory. Most of the scientific statistical data she uses comes from renowned scientists who she interviews during her travels. She compares her research findings with theirs in an attempt to derive a valid report to her audience. Her efforts to relate her work with findings from other scientists, on research about climatic changes elevates the credibility of her work. She argues her points in such an authoritative voice, which is powerful and convincing to the audience. She lays out her arguments in a persuasive prose which makes captivates the audience all through the read.   

Kolbert issues viable warrants to support her claims. In the book, the biggest claim she makes is that human beings are responsible for causing global warming. This is through the pollution of environment during their activities. To support this claim, she cites the in environmental temperatures since the industrial age. Her warrant to support this argument is that of the atmosphere of Venus. She claims that it consists of ninety six percent Carbon Dioxide, with a surface temperature of about nine hundred degrees Celsius.  

She also cites another warrant in the claim that human beings have the ability to cool the earth’s temperatures back down. Although there might be some health risks involved, she argues that her theory can work.  To support her theory, she argues if aerosols were to be released into the atmosphere, they would reflect the harmful sun’s rays away from earth. The aerosols would create a reverse greenhouse effect. Her warrant to this theory was that, several centuries ago, a volcanic eruption occurred. The eruption produced about twenty tons of gases to the atmosphere. The gases caused the environmental temperatures to moderate down by half a degree.

The use of verbal imagery in the publication is extensive. It is well employed and can even entice the most causal of readers to take an interest in the effects of climatic changes to the environment. This stylistic device is recurrent all through the book’s chapters as Kolbert offers a chronicle of his journey in different nations. Kolbert uses the device when highlighting the principal interviews and experiences she had during her travels. It is from the experiences that she fully understands the ramifications of climatic changes to the environment. Apart from verbal imagery, logos, pathos, and ethos are extensively used in the publication. 

Logos refers to the way she applies logic and facts to influence the reader. This is greatly manifested in the first chapter when she talks about Shishmaref, a town in Alaska. The residents are facing the possibility of moving from their own town to other places. Their migration was as a result of harsh weather, which became unbearable. The most affected people are those who residing in the coastal regions. The ice that protected these people from the big waves and extreme breeze from the ocean has melted. This puts the residents in a difficult situation, which compels them to relocate. Her theory about using aerosols to reverse the greenhouse effect is also a good example where she uses the logo in her publication.

Kolbert also employs pathos in her publication. Pathos is a tactic which appeals to the reader’s emotions. She cultivates the emotions of her audience by referring to situations which are easy to understand. She uses information that most readers would relate. For example, in the first chapter, Kolbert says that the residents of Shishmaref town in Alaska have to move to another town because of the ice melting. This evokes both sorrowful and sympathetic emotions among the audience. The author tries to relate this problem to that of global climatic change which influences the emotions of her audience.

Ethos refers to the ethical appeal of an author to her audience. Ethos aims at convincing the reader about the credibility of the published materials by portraying an appealing character of the author. The manifestation of ethos in Kolbert’s work portrays that she has ethical standing about the quality of her arguments. From the introduction, all through the body to its conclusion, she tries to support her arguments by referencing to her personal experiences. She mentions that she has visited Alaska, Australia, USA, and also Europe. She points out that her travels were not leisure but investigative visits. She also tries to prove her theories by referencing to other research done by other scientists before her. This elevates her credibility to the audience of the book. It empowers her with the authority she needs to pass on the message.  

The author is not an expert in global warming herself. However, the credibility of her work is elevated by the fact that she performs interviews to various scientists who have published works themselves. The public would have been notified that the scientist’s work was invalid. She would not have used them in her publication, in such a case. Her credibility is viable as she not only uses the records from different scientists but also travels to interview them herself. 

In conclusion, the book Field Notes from a Catastrophe is a remarkable and insightful read. It lays out evidence supporting the fact that the earth is now warmer than it was, in the past, four hundred and twenty thousand years. Kolbert talks about different scientists views about this phenomenon. The book is informative as well as interesting in a scientific perspective. At the same time, it is kind depressing on an individual’s perspective. The author brings out her claim global climatic changes and its effects effectively. She gives sufficient reasons for her arguments and also a plausible warrant. She uses various stylistic devices such as irony in the composition of her work. The devices help to captivate her audience and makes it easy for them understand her claim.   

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