Foreign Policy Blogs

Elizabeth Kolbert on Where We Are Today

You can’t praise Betsy Kolbert enough, in my opinion.  She has been the must lucid, grounded, smart and committed journalist writing about climate change for several years.  In The War on Rachel Carson here from a couple of years ago, I wrote “Nota Bene –   I put Betsy Kolbert in a class with Rachel Carson.  Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change is a stunning picture of what we’re up against in confronting the specter of global warming.  About 20 years ago, I was helping run a workshop on acid rain for some Sierra Club activists and we’d invited some press, not thinking anyone would show up, but lo and behold, a young reporter for the ‘NY Times’ did:  Betsy Kolbert.  We thought that was cool and so was she.”

In an interview with “Yale Environment 360” that’s just out, she talks about a number of things.  On the public:  “It gets back to this issue of whether the public believes in science, which, to be honest, we do not. You can still find a lot of people who don’t believe in evolution, okay? So we’re talking about a country that has a very lax relationship to science.”  On the politics in Washington:  “He [Obama] has a good plan put together by good people, but to translate that into a legislative action is going to be very, very difficult because of the way that our system can be held hostage by a minority. My fear is that in order to get something through Congress, it will be so watered down as to be meaningless.”  On the morality of seeking solutions now:  “Well, I’m no moral philosopher, but it seems to me in that if there’s not a moral dimension to potentially leaving a totally impoverished planet to future generations, all future generations, I don’t know what would be.”

If you read anybody on climate change, read Betsy Kolbert.  If you haven’t read Field Notes from a Catastrophe, run out now and get it.  Then start making some noise of your own.



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change