Ecology

Irreversible Shift

Irreversible Shift

This should be a single-issue election

Is it any wonder that in a century dominated by surveillance, paranoia, terrorism, rendition, financial collapse and hard borders our language has retreated? Our reality, for years now, has been of individual survival under austerity; the erasure of the public in a city of stagnating wages that in eight years lost half its youth centers and half its nightclubs and saw them replaced with sterile glass towers. One by one London’s houses, monuments, newspapers, and artworks are being eaten up by the searching, liquid capital of Indian steel tycoons and Arab petrolords and Russian disaster capitalists. Of course the language has stopped growing: where are we even supposed to talk to each other now?

Extraction Rebellion

Extraction Rebellion

A Green Zone of hope

Vast stretches of earth, once rich with vegetation and wildlife, are now barren. Running cracks fragment sun-hardened dirt for hundreds of miles. Increasingly severe dust storms and triple-digit temperatures routinely consume the cities and towns that remain. Electricity is scarce; there are no working fans, air filters, or air conditioners. Water, when available, is often contaminated, but still ingested regularly despite the risks.

Eating the Frog

Eating the Frog

David Wallace-Wells’s new book is one of the few honest accounts of the costs, both tangible and metaphorical, of global warming.

David Wallace-Wells’s new book, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, reads at once as an innovative look at manmade climate change and also as old news. As Wallace-Wells himself states at points, not much in his book is new. Even the scariest near-term predictions and assessments, like the possibility that “should the planet warm 3.7 degrees . . . climate change damages could total $551 trillion—nearly twice as much wealth as exists in the world today,” or that, at the upper-end of temperature predictions for the end of this century, “humans at the equator and in the tropics would not be able to move around without dying” have been accessible to the general public online or in academic articles and assessments. What is new is the candor of the narrative and relative impassivity with which Wallace-Wells, a career journalist, elucidates the distressing implications of the facts that he reports.

Carbonated

Carbonated

William T. Vollmann confronts climate change

Carbon Ideologies does not appear to aspire to readability. The primer’s level of technical detail simply doesn’t justify the hemorrhaging of readers it will unquestionably induce. It should have been published online, along with the notes. The section on Fukushima makes a certain amount of chronological sense (the disaster occurred in 2011, as Vollmann was embarking on the project), but from a conceptual and narrative point of view it is misplaced. For one thing, this leg of the project doesn’t fit neatly under the heading of a “carbon ideology.” The argument seems to be that, once we have come to terms with the damage we are doing to the atmosphere with our overuse of carbon fuels, we will move onto newfangled forms of energy that are equally destructive, albeit in different ways. But then why not include all this at the end, as a disconcerting epilogue?

It’s Already Here

It’s Already Here

Left-wing climate realism and the Trump climate change memo

The period of world history since the 1980s has been the most extractive in human history. Nearly 56 percent of all atmospheric carbon since the dawn of the industrial revolution has been produced in these past four decades. The crisis of the Anthropocene is not a story about individual consumption choices, or one about technology per se.

What is Energy Dominance?

What is Energy Dominance?

The Trump Administration off the leash and unleashing

Trump’s national security strategy, published as a 68-page booklet in December of 2017, stated that one aim of “energy dominance” was to “help our allies and partners become more resilient against those that use energy to coerce,” in effect a realignment of the global energy order away from OPEC and Russia and toward the US. Though this policy rhetoric seemed to dovetail nicely with the call to consider “America First,” it was hardly isolationist. Economically, it was imperialist, encouraging dependence by smaller and developing countries, India in particular, on US fossil fuel supplies, and aiming to shore up our trade deficit with China, which has historically relied on others for their fossil fuels. When Trump recently opened the NATO conference—this even before the apparently meager breakfast of only cheese and pastries was officially served—by rebuking Angela Merkel for approving the Nord Stream 2, a proposed gas pipeline that would run from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany, he was in effect accusing her of betraying the alliance.

An Account of My Hut

An Account of My Hut

I don’t want to live in a spaceship

The weekend before the fires I attended a grief workshop sponsored by the climate change group. They told us grief processed on one’s own turns to despair, but grief processed communally becomes medicine. Now that we knew the reality of climate change, we would grieve the Earth. That way grief wouldn’t hold us back when it was time to mobilize. To prepare us, they drew two circles on the board. Your Comfort Zone was written inside one circle. In the second circle, some distance from the first, they wrote, Where the Magic Happens.