Climate Roundup: Cruel Summer

Greetings, fellow climate anxiety managers. This summer I am taking a course called Communicating Science to finish my Climate Change certificate. Class discussions have been fascinating because while one or two of us are writers, the rest of my classmates are legit scientists–neuroscientists, botanists, physicists–and I love hearing about what they’re reading. There are several more weeks to go and I expect to collect a lot more links from our weekly discussions, but this roundup has gotten unwieldy enough to release into the wild.

This summer I am also still working from home, and feeling pretty creative and productive at home, so I am very interested in how workplaces will do to accommodate this forbidden knowledge. Emily Atkins has some theories on how this might play out, and how it will impact the environment. Work from home, save the planet? Ehhhh (HEATED, June 2, 2021)

And this month I have spent a lot of time sweating in my favorite park, volunteering at the first-ever outdoor Flower Show during a couple of 90-degree weekends. Hot girl summer, I guess. Those Scorching Early-Summer temps? It’s Climate Change. (Green Philly, June 11, 2021)

Climate Disasters

The American west is currently experiencing a mega heat wave and historic drought. The Record Temperatures Enveloping The West Are Not Your Average Heat Wave (NPR, June 19, 2021)

Despite changes in individual human behavior necessitated by the pandemic, atmospheric carbon dioxide measured at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory peaked for 2021 in May at a monthly average of 419 parts per million (ppm), the highest level since accurate measurements began 63 years ago. Carbon dioxide peaks near 420 parts per million at Mauna Loa observatory (NOAA, June 7, 2021)

What Happens When Rising Seas Shift Maritime Borders? (JSTOR, June 11, 2021)

When NJ public schools first attempted to return to the classroom last year, they offered my friend–a middle school teacher with a windowless classroom–a personal air purifier, which claimed to “ionize” the air and theoretically make it safe to breathe. The device laid no claim to COVID prevention, and yet… here was a school system attempting to lean on this dubious science to force teachers back to work before it was safe. Mother Jones investigated the safety of this technology not only for virus transmission but also for wildfires. Caution to the Wind (Mother Jones, May 27, 2021).

Environmental justice and action

Are white people bad for the environment? Having just finished Braiding Sweetgrass with my eco-book club, I gotta say…. yeah, I think so. (Grist, June 17, 2021)

Thanks to 13 years of activism spearheaded by Indigenous organizers, the Keystone XL pipeline plan has been terminated. Inside Climate News has a little history and context. Requiem for a Pipeline: Keystone XL Transformed the Environmental Movement and Shifted the Debate over Energy and Climate (Inside Climate News, June 20, 2021)

Neko Case reflects on the meaning of this win in her newsletter, which is often packed with florid (pun and compliment intended) prose about nature and what it takes to make a home. Abundance is Temporary (Entering the Lung, June 19, 2021)

A high-level (tree-level) look at how shade is unequally distributed in Los Angeles, and why we should think of shade as civic resource to be shared equitably. Shade (Places Journal, April 2019).

The Unequal Distribution of Covid Vaccines Is a Preview of the Coming Climate Apartheid (The New Republic, June 18, 2021)

How biodiversity conservation can help manage future pandemics—for plants and for humans (The Counter, May 21, 2021)

Got Mud? For Coastal Cities, Humble Dirt Has Become A Hot Commodity (NPR, May 1, 2021)

Climate Dads, a Philadelphia-based group, is putting together climate resources for… dads.


New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States (ProPublica, September 15, 2020)

Video archive for Penn’s 1.5 Minute Climate Lectures series (2019-2020)

From one of my classmates: a TED Talk about the medical benefits of spending time in nature:

Knowing my growing interest in foraging and edible wild plants, a fellow Tree Tender recommended Alexis Nikole’s videos to me. They are amazing! She is hilarious as well as knowledgeable, and somehow zeroes in right on the questions plaguing me most (such as: are these wild strawberries?? can you eat street tree fruit??) She’s on TikTok and Instagram.

Visions for the future

Can Climate Fiction Writers Reach People in Ways That Scientists Can’t? (Smithsonian Magazine, May 14, 2021).

Apocalypse movies need to imagine climate solutions, too (Polygon, May 20, 2021)

Enough cyberpunk—it’s solarpunk’s time to shine (PC Gamer, April 2021)

Reading in the Anthropocene (Guernica, June 16, 2021)

The Climate of Gender (Catapult, May 3, 2021)

Resources for writers

I’ve admired and valued Ed Yong’s intelligent, sensitive COVID-19 coverage and was thrilled that he earned a Pulitzer for it. In this interview, he writes about science journalism and storytelling in a way that may be useful for aspiring climate writers as well. How Science Journalist Ed Yong Helps Readers Make Sense of the World (Catapult, April 9, 2021).

Climate fact sheets, including snapshots of climate change impacts on wildfires, drought, and more. (Envent Lab @ UCSB).

On May 26, several court decisions resulted in multinational oil companies having to make minor concessions to climate activism, requiring them to do things such as including activists on their boards and expanding their plans to cut greenhouse emissions. Many news outlets framed this as a “bad day” for Big Oil; Emily Atkins explains why that framing is harmful. May 26 was good. The news made it bad. (HEATED, June 14, 2021)


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