HEATED is always an informative newsletter, but I particularly liked this issue about Earth Day: a little bit about the history of Earth Day, which was founded to raise awareness and action against environmental injustice, then a breakdown of different ways this occasion is egregiously co-opted by corporations attempting to greenwash or push products. My Earth Day Inbox (HEATED, April 20, 2021)
Just to nail down the point: different writer, different words, same problem. I’m an Environmental Journalist and I Hate Earth Day (Mother Jones, April 22, 2019)
Count on JStor for a little more history: The First Earth Day, and the First Green Generation (JStor, April 15, 2020)
I turn 40 next month, and Earth Day is just over 50 years old. As I began learning about climate history as well as climate science last year, I have often reflected how astonishing it is that my peers and I were born into a nation and era with relatively clean air and water. Parklands were preserved, even if we did not go to them. Rivers have not caught on fire in our lifetimes. Towns have not smothered in smog. The ozone hole has slowly knitted back up. All this is thanks to global policy, a complex system that often feels well out of our control–but global movements start with grassroots movements, now and in the 60s and 70s when environmental activism led to the Environmental Protection Agency and numerous regulations for clean air and water.
We did it before so we can do it again, is my thinking.
Yes, yes, I know.
That said, here are 5 ways you can help fight climate change in Philly (City of Philadelphia, December 6, 2019). Most aren’t news to me–I compost already, and if I were a homeowner I would join Solarize Philly in a heartbeat–but I did not know you could work with Rain Check to install a stormwater management tool in your own backyard!
Project Drawdown has released a series of free videos they are calling Climate Solutions 101.
Is the Ever Given getting stuck in the Suez Canal a climate disaster? Not exactly, but also not exactly not. Suez Canal shutdown shows the vulnerability of the global economy to extreme events (Yale Climate Connections, March 29, 2021)
Vox posted this list that summarizes this year in environmental news, and, well, it’s worth clicking through for detail but I feel compelled to reproduce the list. 10 things we learned about Earth since the last Earth Day (Vox, April 22, 2021)
- We saw just how quickly ocean noise pollution can drop, and how much that can help marine life
- A new study found that the Amazon is likely warming — not cooling — the planet
- We discovered a bunch of new species
- We got a much clearer picture of just how much wildlife we’re losing
- Protecting plants and animals hinges on a thriving ecotourism industry
- Researchers uncovered more proof that a key system of ocean currents is weakening
- The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs gave rise to the Amazon rainforest
- A review of more than 300 studies showed that the rate of deforestation is lower on Indigenous lands
- Wildfire smoke can turn the sky an apocalyptic orange
- Scientists finally solved the mystery of why wombats poop cubes
Nice note to end on.
Grist explores a few of those issues–like ocean circulation–as well as some ongoing issues like glacier loss and coral reef bleaching in an accessibly written and beautifully illustrated longread. It’s designed to scroll, and breaks down the science in ways that feel simple but consistent with what I’ve learned in class. Points of No Return (Grist, April 2021).
The Human Nature of Disaster (Public Books, March 26, 2021) is about books about hurricanes.
Can Jeff VanderMeer Save Us From Extinction? (With Carmen Maria Machado at Interview, April 8, 2021)
Giant Hands of Venice’s Grand Canal (Atlas Obscura, no date)
On the Literature of Rewilding… and the Need to Rewild Literature (LitHub, April 14, 2021)
Speaking of: I follow some ecofiction writers on Twitter who have created a generous community for eco-minded writers, editors, and others: Rewilding Our Stories. Anyone can join, although you’ll need to introduce yourself as a human before you can see past posts. Whether you want reading recommendations or writing support or publishing advice, there is a wealth of information here.
Some of the Rewilding writers recommended books to read for Earth 2021–a fantastic list with a wide variety of genres and angles. Earth Day: What We’re Reading (April 21, 2021)
This is a bit of a reach, since I can’t quite blame spotted lanternflies on climate change, but let’s say that invasive species are a comorbidity of symptoms like warm winters, and are directly related to fast and cheap global trade which has a variety of detrimental effects on the environment. My point is, spotted lanternflies were everywhere in Philadelphia last summer. When we walked downtown and back to march against injustice, we passed through thickets of them; you’d see a ripple in the socially distanced crowd you were marching with, as protestor after protestor would attempt to stomp the bugs. Once my neighbor and I walked down a block that was so densely populated with adult spotted lanternflies that we broke into a run–there were too many! They were jumping and landing on us!
So it makes sense, to me, that the sheer volume of these invasive bugs would affect agriculture and food production somehow, although they mostly feed on the parts of trees we don’t eat. And I’m glad the honey farmers are making the best of it, but I can’t say I’m tempted to give this honey a try.
When Life Gave Pennsylvania Spotted Lanternflies, Its Bees Made Spotted Lanternfly Honey (Atlas Obscura, March 16, 2021)