There has been an explosion of podcasts on the climate crisis of late, but one has been at it for more than a decade: ClimateOne. It was great to talk with host Greg Dalton about the stories we tell ourselves about the changing planet and what I heard when I was on the road for my series on conservative perceptions of climate change for Inside Climate News in 2017-18. The other half of the show is Greg in conversation with Nathaniel Rich, author of the new book Second Nature: Scenes from a World Remade.
The summer Southwest monsoon has brought some rain and momentary relief to Chennai, but the question of how to mitigate water shortages (and excesses) are not gone. After my New York Times op-ed last month, I’ve had a chance to speak about water with others interested in the story. These issues are not disappearing anytime soon. From the World Resources Institute:
New data from WRI’s Aqueduct tools reveal that 17 countries – home to one-quarter of the world’s population—face “extremely high” levels of baseline water stress, where irrigated agriculture, industries and municipalities withdraw more than 80% of their available supply on average every year.
I spoke to Mark Goldberg on the Global Dispatches Podcast. In essence, do all the small stuff first: restore wetlands, enforce rainwater catchment mandates, educate on conservation, fix leaky pipes, capture water across the landscape with small-scale systems that work with nature, and not against it. Can India develop a new 21st-century model of sustainable development? The opportunity is still there, though hard to see evidence of embracing such possibility. Listen to the podcast here:
I also make a cameo appearance in this Al Jazeera The Stream news piece, featuring Veena Srinivasan, a senior fellow with Ashoka Trust, Raj Bhagat Palanichamy, a data manager with World Resources Institute India, and T.M. Krishna, a musician, artist, and activist. Watch the episode here:
And then sit back and watch/listen to T.M. Krishna’s haunting song Poromboke:
This is the eighth and final piece of Finding Middle Ground, a series I’ve been working on for InsideClimate News for the last year and a half.
This piece also made the Longreads Best of 2018 list for science and technology!
And I had a great conversation with Illinois Public Radio’s The 21st host Niala Boodhoo, along with Wheaton College sophomore Diego Rivera, whom you’ll meet in the story, and Riley Balikian of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. Have a listen here, starting at 17:30.
Here’s the start of the piece:
WHEATON, Illinois — Diego Hernandez wasn’t thinking much about climate change until last summer, when he was traveling with his family along the Gulf Coast in his home state of Texas, where his ancestors—cowboys and politicians, he said—reach back to the 1600s. His mother suggested they take the “scenic route” for that summer drive, Diego said, his fingers making air-quotes because there was nothing “scenic” about it. All he saw were oil refineries.
“At that moment,” said 19-year-old Diego, who considers himself a libertarian, “the switch kind of flipped for me.” Why are we putting refineries in this beautiful place? he thought. The impacts from Hurricane Harvey, which had hit Houston the previous August and had affected some of Diego’s relatives, were also still lingering in his mind.
“I used to be like, oh, there’s oil, go start drilling, you know, because of course it’s all about the money, right?” he said, his voice tinged with sarcasm. But after that family outing, he began to ask questions—”What is it doing to our environment? How is it going to affect us in the next 10 to 50 years?”—and since then he’s had climate change on his mind.
The IPCC just released its latest climate report and the situation is more dire than ever. It was great to talk with In The Thick hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela, along with Grist journalist Justine Calma about how communities of color will be (and are being) impacted by the changes underway.
In Cambridge, I reunited with a friend from another place, Ruth Goldstein – who is now teaching at Harvard. In recent years, she’s spent the better part of her time in South America and she’s here to share her findings through wonderful classes about mythology and women and plants and gold. We talked of these things but we also talked of maps and cartography and the way they define space and landscapes. Later, she sent me these words, written in 1924 by Aldo Leopold in an essay entitled “The River of the Mother of God,” which apparently sat in a drawer, a victim of a Yale Review rejection. Aldo wrote:
…wilderness is the one thing we can not build to order. When our ciphers result in slums, we can tear down enough of them to re-establish parks and playgrounds. When they choke traffic, we can tear down enough of them to build highways and subways. But when our ciphers have choked out the last vestige of the Unknown Places, we cannot build new ones.
(Setting aside the hint of razing slums…) this brings us to a moment of appreciation for those who, a century ago, helped establish the National Park Service. I know, I know, these aren’t exactly the Unknown Places they once were, but they are something, and something important. When the Service was founded it held 17 national parks and 21 national monuments in its trust. This year, on the centennial of the Service, there are now more than 400 sites, on more than 84 million acres, protected places of wild beauty and historic significance. Last week, President Obama added one more to the list as he created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine.
So as I moved back to the city, these public spaces were on my mind. Our first Knight Science Journalism fellowship workshop was an audio class with multimedia journalist and past Knight fellow Ibby Caputo. I’ve been recording in the field for years, but am still woefully not at ease with production. Usually, I record, I transcribe, I write. Here our goal was two minutes of auditory wonder. Three intense days later, Ibby had indeed whipped us into shape, and we each had a Vox Pop – man on the street – piece to prove it. Here’s mine, complete with rookie mistakes of hot tape and pops, after I went out and about on the MIT campus to hear people’s memories and thoughts on the National Park Service, in the week of its centennial.
And now to end with something more polished, “MODERN MAJOR PARK RANGER,” a sing-along collaboration made in partnership with hitRECord, the National Park Service, and the National Park Foundation. Enjoy. Then, go #FindYourPark!