The Whale and the Supercomputer: On the Northern Front of Climate Change

The Whale and the Supercomputer On the Northern Front of Climate Change Scientists and natives wrestle with our changing climate in the land where it has hit first and hardestA traditional Eskimo whale hunting party races to shore near Barrow Alaska their comrades trappe

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  • Title: The Whale and the Supercomputer: On the Northern Front of Climate Change
  • Author: Charles Wohlforth
  • ISBN: 9780865477148
  • Page: 392
  • Format: Paperback
  • Scientists and natives wrestle with our changing climate in the land where it has hit first and hardestA traditional Eskimo whale hunting party races to shore near Barrow, Alaska their comrades trapped on a floe drifting out to sea as ice that should be solid this time of year gives way Elsewhere, a team of scientists transverses the tundra, sleeping in tents, survivingScientists and natives wrestle with our changing climate in the land where it has hit first and hardestA traditional Eskimo whale hunting party races to shore near Barrow, Alaska their comrades trapped on a floe drifting out to sea as ice that should be solid this time of year gives way Elsewhere, a team of scientists transverses the tundra, sleeping in tents, surviving on frozen chocolate, and measuring the snow every ten kilometers in a quest to understand the effects of albedo, the snow s reflective ability to cool the earth beneath it.Climate change isn t an abstraction in the far North It is a reality that has already dramatically altered daily life, especially that of the native peoples who still live largely off the land and sea Because nature shows her footprints so plainly here, the region is also a lure for scientists intent on comprehending the complexities of climate change In this gripping account, Charles Wohlforth follows the two groups as they navigate a radically shifting landscape The scientists attempt to decipher its smallest elements and to derive from them a set of abstract laws and models The natives draw on uncannily accurate traditional knowledge, borne of long experience living close to the land Even as they see the same things a Native elder watches weather coming through too fast to predict a climatologist notes an increased frequency of cyclonic systems the two cultures struggle to reconcile their vastly different ways of comprehending the environment.With grace, clarity, and a sense of adventure, Wohlforth a lifelong Alaskan illuminates both ways of seeing a world in flux, and in the process, helps us to navigate a way forward as climate change reaches us all.

    One thought on “The Whale and the Supercomputer: On the Northern Front of Climate Change”

    1. I was sure I would love this book because of the subject matter. The author reports on the efforts of numerous scientists who are studying climate change in the field where it is happening most dramatically -- the arctic, especially Alaska. He also reports on how climate change is adversely affecting the native people who live there and who rely on a relatively stable climate or at least somewhat predictable weather cycles and patterns in order to sustain their centuries-old way of life. These t [...]

    2. A bit long in the baleen (yes I went there) but an overall very interesting read. Perhaps science and archaeology geeks would appreciate what I felt was just a bit too much information, but ultimately I did appreciate the point he finally makes--actually he never blatantly states his conclusion, but you should be able to figure it out. Lots of interesting science and climate change related stuffs.

    3. In a society where “climate change” is a burning hot button topic surrounded by an overwhelming jumble of debates, scientific information, opinions, and more, Charles Wohlforth provides a refreshing and compelling case for climate change, its effects, and its relevance to every human being on the planet. Wohlforth uses the power of narrative storytelling to show, not just tell, the impacts of climate change through the lives of the Inupiat whale hunters and arctic scientists who experience f [...]

    4. I had to take a long break from reading this; I got depressed realizing it was published in 2004 and we have 12 more years of climate destruction on our hands. It's a dense read, yes, but important & I love that it covers so many different aspects of what is such a complicated issue. (Not complicated in "does climate change exist" because obviously it does, but complicated in all the systems involved from niche biology to human culture.) I also love that it's autoethnographic, because that's [...]

    5. Scattered and unfocused, bouncing between colloquial stories, fact and research interspersed with anecdote and filler. Wasn't impressed, enjoyed some of the stories, but it was not as good as I hoped it would be. Could have used a great editor or college professor to focus this project a little more.

    6. Very informative and interesting read on how global warming is effecting the Arctic region and people. The author is a wonderful journalist who got to know his subjects well and wrote intriguing histories about the people, which helped break up the intense science sections. I wish the middle of the book was shorter, not nearly as good as the beginning.

    7. This book is about a tribe in Barrow, AK (Northernmost point in AK) who partake in subsistence hunting of marine mammals, specifically bowhead whales, to feed their village. It's interesting to read about their culture, how they depend on the food they get from these whales and how climate change is starting to take it's toll on the whales, the people, and the safety of the hunt.

    8. this book ranged from brilliant to rambly and tangential, and at times it seemed like wohlforth was trying to tell the complete story of everything, which, i guess, he kind of was--that was the point. i appreciated his telling of the story of arctic climate science, not just the results, and he effectively communicated just how complicated this process is, and at times, how mindnumbingly dull.

    9. Maintained my interest. Climate in the Arctic through scientific and personal observation. I would love to read Whohlforth's updates on today's Arctic environment. Dated, but enjoyed the historical context.

    10. I like this book, and am going to have to check it out again when it's hot outside. It's interesting, informative, and full of really cold situations! I just can't stick with it in February, but suspect I'll love it in August. :)

    11. I read this when it first came out, and was really impressed with it. Wohlforth's writing reminds me a lot of Peter Matthiessen's, and it's a valuable read insofar as it takes you to a place where severe climate change isn't a possibility, a threat or an abstraction, but a daily reality.

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