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Reading About Climate Change

The issue of climate change has unfortunately become an integral part of our daily lives. It is impossible to get through a day without seeing something climate-related in the news, on the internet, via social media, etc. Whether it’s the latest science report on world’s escalating temperature, rising sea levels, or rough weather such as wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and droughts – we are inundated with this gloomy news.

Not surprisingly, books on global warming have increased in number too – from pleading calls to action to sustainability guidebooks. The first one I can remember reading was An Inconvenient Truth by former Vice President Al Gore, which caused a great deal of buzz, making people sit up and take notice of this issue. It led me to want to know more, and in the years since, I have read several books on the subject, including Forecast by Stephan Faris and Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island by Earl Swift.

A new genre has even emerged – climate fiction (sometimes shortened as cli-fi) – literature that deals with climate change and global warming. Lists of “essential” books in this genre can be found from a variety of sources, ranging from The Atlantic and Outside to The Guardian to Grist. There’s even a Climate Fiction Writers League. I wrote about one of these books, Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy, in a previous post.

Right now I’m reading something a little different on the topic: The World as We Knew It by editors Amy Brady (executive director of Orion) and Tajja Isen (Some of My Best Friends: Essays on Lip Service). It’s a diverse, impactful collection of nineteen essays from leading writers around the world discussing how they have been personally affected by climate change. Each author provides an individual flair with writing that is poetic, thoughtful and insistent, conveying many unique views on a common topic.

For example, an oft-discussed climatic event (Hurricane Katrina) is examined in a way that is not so common ­– the systemic racism so blatant in the storm’s aftermath. In a similar vein, another essay reflects on the displacement of people resulting from climate change, a situation that often impacts people of color. Other writers muse about COVID and climate change, as well as the end of some plants and animals in one area (cacti in Arizona), and the influx of others in another (ticks in the Northeast and lionfish in the Caribbean). The result is an anthology with many different angles and impressions.

One thing’s for sure – books on the topic of climate change are not going away any time soon.

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