In her new book In Search of The Canary Tree: The Story of A Scientist, a Cypress, and a Changing World, Oakes describes how she worked (with her research team) in remote coastal areas to capture a statistical picture of warming forests. She also includes interviews with Alaskans ranging from loggers to artists about what the decline in yellow-cedars mean to them. This marriage of ecological and social science gives broad meaning Oakes's basic research question: What happens in forests when yellow-cedars die off? ... In Search of The Canary Tree is a terrific book. Its message rings out clearly. When it comes to global warming, local action matters — reducing energy consumption, protecting vulnerable floral and faunal communities, educating others about climate change, and 'holding space for optimism amidst despair.'
In Search of the Canary Tree begins in 2010, with Oakes searching for a topic for her Ph.D. research in Alaska. She interviews local scientists, forest service employees, and park rangers about their research and how she might be able to contribute ... Oakes has few preconceptions about where her research will lead and is willing to be surprised. She’s surprised by what she finds in her ecological studies of yellow-cedar stands and by what she learns from the people she interviews. True, there is an attendant grief, given the grim nature of her research, but there is also hope for the future.
This unique title chronicles an ecologist’s work tracking the impact of climate change on the yellow cedar, a tree that once thrived in the old-growth forests of Southeast Alaska. Avoiding an academic tone, Oakes infuses this chronicle with moments from her own life, including her uncertainty as a graduate student at Stanford seeking a research topic and the devastating shock of her father’s death ... Oakes has special appeal as a compelling new voice in science writing, and readers interested in trees, forests, ecology, and environmental issues will enjoy her intriguing work.
[Oakes] provides a thorough, yet layman-approved explanation of the scientific methods they used and outlines her interview process with Alaskans ... At times this book reads like a nature detective novel with Oakes never revealing her hand too soon. The structure and prose insist that we go on this physical and emotional journey with her. As she describes, her PhD stripped away the humanity of her experience in Alaska, reducing her findings to charts of data. This book is the other side of that coin: the side with the human face ... In this book, Oakes makes the effects of climate change tangible; she allows you to reach out and touch its consequences with your fingertips. She presents the devastating impacts on real people and the ripple effect on the ecosystem. She demands the reader consider his or her own connection to the environment since most of us are dangerously removed mentally from the natural spaces in which we live. By writing this book with deep and complex emotion, she provides the critical first spark of making climate change feel like a personal problem in each of our lives.
In her debut, Oakes, a conservation scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, presents a 'blend of ecology and social science,' looking for answers to scientific questions through meticulous, rigorous research on the Alexander Archipelago...Hardy, diligent, and empathetic, the author makes vividly clear the difficulties of conducting multiyear field research on a remote archipelago ... Readers looking for a thorough understanding of the decline of the yellow-cedar tree will not be disappointed. The data are here, collected and painstakingly recorded by intrepid young people living rough, sometimes in tents and sleeping bags, eating dehydrate The canary-in-the-coal-mine image is a powerful one, and this book carries a potent message sure to resonate with conservationists.
Ecologist Oakes traces the slow death of the yellow cedar, alternatively known as the yellow cypress, in this significant ecological study ... Discussions of academic and scientific methodology, for example, can become dull. The narrative takes a turn for the rawly emotional, however, when Oakes’s father unexpectedly dies back in Virginia, and she finds herself grieving his passing and Alaska’s environmental deterioration simultaneously. In these passages, Oakes admirably melds the professional with the highly personal, ultimately delivering a work of sensitivity and philosophical grace.