Making Sense of the Climate Crisis

A collection of some of the best links from around the web, manually curated.

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We’re not yet ready for what’s already happened

Two weeks ago, people in Switzerland voted against a modest piece of climate legislation — as if we can just wait and see. This week, as a scorching heat wave hit Canada with temperatures of up to 49.7 degrees, I came across a comment: «This moment will be talked about for centuries.» My immediate reaction was: Well, that’s the best case scenario. As I’m trying to understand what is happening here, I discovered this helpful essay. At its core: our inability to grasp discontinuity — the «moment where past experience loses its value as a guide to decision-making about the future.» And it lays out a simple choice: «Disruption now, or even more discontinuity (and then more disruption).» So far, we pretend there’s a third option: to just wait and see. Read it now

From Weekly Filet #354, in July 2021.

Why has climate economics failed us?

The economy is one of the driving forces on this planet. So one would think economists have a thing or two to contribute to solving arguably the biggest issue before us. Yet, Bloomberg columnist Noah Smith argues how «climate economics has almost completely failed to be useful to the national policy discourse». A good read. Also, more opinion pieces should include the phrase «That’s obviously bananapants.»

From Weekly Filet #343, in April 2021.

The Terrifying Warning Lurking in the Earth’s Ancient Rock Record

A vivid time-travel into our planet’s climate past, where there are rainforests in the Arctic, camels in Canada, and the Amazon is running backwards. It’s stunning that we’re able to study the earth’s climate from millions of years ago. Scary, too. «Taking in the whole sweep of Earth’s history, now we see how unnatural, nightmarish, and profound our current experiment on the planet really is. Read it now. (Audio version available, too)

From Weekly Filet #334, in February 2021.

The Case for Climate Reparations

Industrial countries have disproportionally caused the climate crisis that developing countries disproportionally suffer from. Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò and Beba Cibralic make a strong case for a «historically informed response to climate migration» that would make the West «grapple with their role in creating the climate crisis and rendering parts of the world uninhabitable.» (I absolutely love the illustration created for this article. Such a great metaphor — one I haven’t seen in this context yet. If you’re unsure what it means, google «Kintsugi»)

From Weekly Filet #321, in October 2020.

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun

These past months, I couldn’t help but think this pandemic is just a little test run for what’s to come with climate change. For one thing, how we will deal with new realities and forced changes to our way of life. But even more so, especially for people in the Northern Hemisphere: How much we are willing make changes to our lifes to keep others safe (sounds familiar, right?). One of the ugly truths of climate change is that it will disproportionally hit those least reponsible for it. Billions (yes, with a b) of people live in places today that might soon become to hot to live in (just this week, the people in Baghdad have experienced their hottest day ever, with 51.7 degrees celcius). Pro Publica and The New York Times have teamed up with researchers to model migration patterns climate change will create over the coming decades. An essential read.

From Weekly Filet #310, in July 2020.

Explainer: Nine tipping points that could be triggered by climate change

One aspect than makes following climate coverage so exhausting: We get inundated by the sheer number of new records and bad news that it becomes hard to see the big picture (then again, all those records and bad news are the big ugly picture). Here’s an insightful big picture, though: a detailed explanation of nine tipping points, where a changing climate could push parts of the Earth system into abrupt or irreversible change. It’s a looooooong piece, took me about an hour to read. But it’s worth it. You can also just save it and use it to read up on a specific tipping point when you encounter it in the news.

From Weekly Filet #289, in May 2020.
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