September 20, 2019
Essays from the archives on climate action
September 20, 2019
Essays from the archives on climate action
September 5, 2019
Greta Thunberg and her critics
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August 22, 2019
A very precious perishing
May 15, 2019
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.
The fact is, far from collapsing, Brooklyn civilization is likely to suffer only a modest decrease in its quality of life.
December 12, 2018
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?
The question of who gets to live, and how, has always been the realm of politics.
October 10, 2018
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.
July 23, 2018
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.
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.
March 5, 2018
On the teachers’ strike in West Virginia
The teachers’ movement is a reclamation and redirection of a militant working-class identity. They look back to the miners, look around at the uncompensated wreckage of the land, and look forward to the world we are all entering, where the labor is in social reproduction: teaching, caregiving, the upholding of the human world.
January 16, 2018
Evo Morales’s new allies are political alliances, and they lack the revolutionary fervor of his old ones.
Support from social movements and unions that propelled Morales into office has undergone a series of exorcisms and adjustments that have eroded the foundation of the MAS. Some social movement leaders have been brought into the party, effectively weakening their organizations’ dissenting roles.Morales has drummed up new allies in traditional bastions of dissent, particularly in the country’s east, known as the Media Luna, where some of the most racist chants against him originated and where a violent autonomy movement at the beginning of his term nearly split the country in two. But Morales’s new allies are political alliances, and they lack the revolutionary fervor of his old ones. Aside from his staunchest supporters, in the Chapare, in some highland rural indigenous communities and among certain groups like the Bartolina Sisa peasant women’s federation, there is a general sense of listlessness that has, in the wake of the November court decision, curdled into sporadic protest.