As John Muir wrote over a century ago: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” In both understanding and tackling climate change, one core challenge is to stay focused while attending to the bigger picture. Yet this is often what we are called to do.

Here are two recent stories that handle this challenge with energy and grace.

Greta Moran’s “Meet the Retired Furniture Maker Fighting for Climate Justice – and Coal Miners’ Future – in West Virginia” (Pacific Standard, July 2018) tells an inspiring story of an individual taking action not just to lower carbon emissions but also to help the miners whose jobs will be lost as we shift to carbon-free energy. This piece is alert to the connections among daily life, economics, political activism, climate justice, and even the art of furniture design.

Jen Schwartz’s “Surrendering to Rising Seas” (Scientific American, August 2018) is another exemplary story. It tells of a reasonably successful effort to deal with an often-flooded tidal floodplain in New Jersey, by helping residents to retreat inland and begin to restore natural wetlands. Schwartz’s story is informed by details of the actual experiences of residents, local activism, insurance, recovery money, the logistical and policy complications of buyouts, localized forecasting of sea-level rise, short sales, the West Antarctic ice sheet, satellite data, marsh restoration, and more.


This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to ICYMI@yaleclimateconnections.org any time. Let us hear from you.

Filed under: