Late Reports from Charlottesville

By Neal Comment

digbybella.jpgSome of the other participants in last weekend’s Virginia Festival of the Book are weighing in with their reports. Mystery writer Susan McBride offers up all sorts of details—you could plan a dining tour of Charlottesville off her recap—while N.M. Kelby meets all sorts of nice people and Bella Stander’s “Reading Under the Covers” has a bunch of photos, including this pic of her with Digby Diehl (left). Digby did a great job of moderating the panel I took part in Friday on Hollywood, especially when co-panelist David Kipen got stuck in traffic on the way from his office at the National Endowment for the Arts up in D.C. and the two of us had to wing it on our own for a while. (David was in great form once he made it to the venue, though, and did an equally great job Saturday afternoon when we talked about how to connect with readers alongside David J. Montgomery and Gene Schwartz of ForeWord.) Digby also had some great stories to tell late Saturday night, after we persuaded the hotel’s bartender to extend last call, about working out the plot of Soapsuds with co-author Finola Hughes.

The only real regret I have from the weekend is that one of my panels was scheduled opposite a panel I really wanted to attend, where Tim Flannery (The Weather Makers), Elizabeth Kolbert (Field Notes from a Catastrophe), and William Ruddiman (Plows, Plagues and Petroleum) talked about climate change and its consequences. Fortunately, Wired just posted interviews with Flannery and Kolbert that lay the problem out in stark terms:

Flannery: When we say the world will be worse off, what aspects of it do you want to know? We can take a few if you want. Let’s take species diversity, which is one of the greatest stabilizing influences on our planet. A diverse ecosystem is a stable ecosystem. There is not a single computer prediction that is suggesting anything less than monumental species loss. Some projections are up to 60 percent (of all species alive today will be extinct or committed to extinction) by the end of this century. That is massively destabilizing.

Kolbert: People think, “I won’t have to go to Florida anymore. Florida will come to me.” People should realize that warmth doesn’t mean Florida. It means New York is underwater. It may be that certain places like Siberia are more comfy, but it also means that they have no water. If people say, “Why should I be worried about global warming?” I think the answer is, “Do you like to eat?”