For these late winter days, here are five especially interesting, provocative, and well-written pieces about climate change – what writers and editors call “thought” or “think” pieces.
The following pieces explore different ways of perceiving the problem: Each should give you new ideas and perspectives to mull. They may surprise, outrage, or inspire you, or may make you want to exclaim, “Oh, that’s exactly how I see it!”
“The Empty Space Where Normal Once Lived,” Bathsheba Demuth, The Atlantic.
A long-COVID fever, 100 degrees and rampant wildfires in Siberia: What these two symptoms have in common is the subject of Brown University historian Demuth’s intriguing feature. For one thing, they both stem from invisible consumption. One result? “It’s too easy to forget what flourishing feels like.” For a video of a related talk Demuth did, watch here.
“This Isn’t the California I Married,” Elizabeth Weil, The New York Times Magazine.
This is not a typical story about California’s wildfires, though it does cover their causes. It’s more about how we respond when places we love do not “feel OK”; when we realize we have “deluded ourselves for too long about the state of the world”; when, in the words of climate futurist Alex Steffen, we’re “living through a discontinuity.”
“Apocalypse When? Global Warming’s Endless Scroll,” Amanda Hess, New York Times.
Here is the climate crisis as we encounter, consume, and become alienated from it on social media: “We are always mentally skipping between a nostalgic landscape, where we have plenty of energy to waste on the internet, and an apocalyptic one, where it’s too late to do anything. It’s the center, where we live, that we can’t bear to envision.”
“In Deep Adaptation’s Focus on Societal Collapse, a Hopeful Call to Action,” Kiley Bense, Inside Climate News.
Whether it’s scientifically realistic or not (and it’s probably not), some people fear that the climate crisis is bringing us to the end of the world we know. If you are one of them, Bense’s piece might be for you, as it explores the responses of others who share that fear but reject “despair, apathy, and paralysis” and focus instead on the present and insist on continuing to fight.
“The Trap of Optimism,” Aaron Bady, The Nation.
Like Bense’s piece, this one explores how we might cope with the darkest news—without surrendering to it. It’s an interview with Dan Sherrell, a climate activist and book author who just turned 30. Sherrell’s book is Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World. What he has to say is open-eyed, thoughtful, and ultimately heartening.
This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to her any time. Let us hear from you.