Mon 24 Aug 2009
By Matt Person
If this photo suggests someone who has been far away and returned to report on his explorations, then it accurately depicts MBL scientist Paul Colinvaux’s informal lecture in the last of the MBLWHOI Library’s Summer Salon series. Reading from his book, Amazon Expeditions: My Quest for the Ice-Age Equator (2008, Yale University Press), Colinvaux gave a “you are there” sense of the exciting discoveries he made during his long career, which included climate research revelations during a search for lakes on cloud-shrouded Galapagos Island mountaintops; trekking deep into the Amazon for further climate studies; and recounting his earliest climate research in the Alaska wilderness.
“This is a memoir of a life in science. It is a story of exploring,” writes Colinvaux in a synopsis to his book. “It is a story of a great hypothesis [the refuge hypothesis] that grew into a scientific paradigm of our times. It explores the Amazon, the ice age, and climate change. … It is a tale of when evolutionary ecology came of age, to seek causes for the diversity of living things. … It tells of the power of paradigms to control the thoughts of men and of a struggle to remove an Amazon paradigm whose consequence was mischievous.”