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.