Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘science’

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. Harper Collins. New York. 2012. 436 pgs.

13438524Barbara Kingsolver’s latest novel Flight Behavior is set in Feathertown, Tennessee, a fictitious rural outpost in the Appalachian Mountains. Its central characters are Dellarobia, a high school drop out and her lummox of a husband Cub, their two children, precocious five-year-old Preston and two-year-old Cordelia, Cub’s controlling parents Bear and Hester, Dellarobia’s smart aleck friend Dovey, and Ovid Byron an entomologist and professor from New Mexico.

Oh and butterflies: millions and millions of monarch butterflies who, it appears, have lost their way and are now slogging through a drenching Southern winter clinging together in giant bundles in the forest above the family’s farm. As Byron—a monarch specialist who finds out about this unprecedented aggregation from a newspaper clipping—studies their strange behavior (the butterflies are, in fact thousands of miles from their normal wintering ground in Michoacan, Mexico), dispirited Dellarobia, the discoverer of the butterflies and now minor celebrity, works on how to rewrite her life. Other characters include a snippy CNN reporter, 350.org field representatives, graduate students and a group of English activist knitters.

Flight Behavior is a well crafted novel of literary weight (although there are a few too many similes for my taste). There are spot-on swipes at upper middle class LL Bean-clad “ecowarriors” which contrast realistically with a pretty gritty examination of living poor—including a finely nuanced explanation of why fundamentalism offers such a potent anecdote.

But the most important message of Flight Behavior, and it comes through loud and clear, is that the culprit disrupting the butterfly’s life support systems as well as the weirding weather Feathertown’s experiencing, is global climate change.

I know I should like, no love, this book. Any and every time an author makes climate change the center of the conversation with passion and grave sadness I know I should rejoice.

But somehow, in this case, it just doesn’t work. Nature or environment as a character in novels, sure. The novel as a right vehicle for informing readers about climate change? Not so much.

(AE note: I know I have stepped out of geographical bounds to review this book but, for me, climate change brings it back Home on the Range.)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Smoke Plume from the Sisters Fire
Photo Courtesy of Tracy Keebler

Last week we were at Crater Lake National Park. The sky was hazy from a fire burning near Sisters, OR about 75 miles north.

Currently there are close to 60 wildfires burning in the West, from South Dakota to the Pacific.      http://fires.globalincidentmap.com/home.php

This is one of the worst wildfire seasons on record. No surprise to those climatologists who’ve been pointing out that global climate change would translate into a hotter, drier American West. A 2004 Forest Service study predicted up to a fivefold increase in burned areas by the end of the century.

Fire seasons extend over two months more than in the past and individual fires are hotter, last longer and cover bigger areas. Between 1960 and 1990, average annual acreage burned was about 2.9 million acres. Between 2000 and 2009 the average rose to 6.9 million. For more grim stats see: www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2012/07/09/11889/western-wildfires-getting-worse-in-a-warming-world/.

While too many of our so-called leaders continue to doubt climate change we here in the West are already seeing its effects up close and personal. So too this year the heartland’s farmers. What will it take to get somebody’s attention? A wildfire on the Mall in DC?

Smokey the Bear Wishes Somebody Was Listening

Read Full Post »