Historically, this is the blog where I put writing that didn’t fit elsewhere in my life. Reading and writing for pleasure, when I was supposed to be reading and writing for my dissertation. Video game stuff. Real talk about jobhunting. Topics that occupy a lot of space in my emotional landscape and occasionally need an outlet.
In related news, I just added a blog post category for Environmental anxiety. Since I’ve been (a) enrolling in courses on climate science and (b) planning and writing stories set in the world thirty years from now, I’ve started to save links as I come across them–but my collection is getting a little unwieldy. Writing about them will help me process and remember. There is no real organizational principle here–these link roundups will feature stuff I come across in class and on social media as I come across them, and will be posted on no particular schedule.
At The Cut, a literary reflection on conversations about climate change. I recommend following Emily Raboteau on Twitter for more on this topic. This Is How We Live Now A year’s diary of reckoning with climate anxiety, conversation by conversation.
It’s hard to imagine after the rainiest winter I can remember ever having in Philadelphia, but the current reality is that wet regions are getting wetter and dry regions are getting drier, which leads to droughts like the Cape Town Water Crisis.
NPR: Antarctica Melts. There are a couple of negative impacts from the ice sheets melting: one is the rise of sea level, which is destructive to coastal areas, but another is that polar ice typically reflects a lot of solar radiation back into space. If there’s less reflection, that’s more solar radiation absorbed by the Earth’s surface, which increases the surface temperature (which increases the melting, and so on).
Speaking of the rising sea, a fishing community in the Philippines is already having to adapt (New York Times).
A little local atmospheric chemistry: last summer, a refinery in South Philadelphia exploded. Fortunately injuries were minimal, and as far as we know there were no harmful effects from gases released by the explosion. The refinery was permanently closed. Then one day Center City smelled like gas and several downtown offices were evacuated. The smell is thought to have been Mercaptan, an additive used in the refining process that got released while the refinery was being cleaned that day. “There is no threat to human health from this additive,” said a health department official. Cool story, bro.
Some good news? Okay. NASA: 2019 Ozone Hole is the Smallest on Record Since Its Discovery. Some of my earliest memories of environmental awareness are about the hole in the ozone layer, which was the source of much environmental anxiety in the 80s. The fact that the stratospheric ozone layer is may replenish itself by 2050 is due entirely to the Montreal Protocol and subsequent reduction of ozone-depleting substances. Here’s more on that history and what needs to happen next, from the European Environment Agency.
I know it’s confusing, but: stratospheric ozone is good! The ozone layer helps protect the Earth’s surface from damaging short-wave radiation from the sun. However, tropospheric or ground-level ozone is bad for humans to breathe in! Ground-level ozone is formed when volatile compounds react with nitrous oxides in the presence of sunlight (most commonly where there are high concentrations of traffic fumes or industrial emissions), which is why you may be hearing that pollution levels are down in cities that have been ordered to shut down or shelter in place (EcoWatch).
Always feel free to link me to more environmental news and features in the comments.