By Alan Levinovitz | As long as national parks have existed, people conceived of them in religious terms. In his book “Discovery of the Yosemite,” the nineteenth-century explorer Lafayette Bunnell described the valley as hallowed ground. Yosemite wasn’t just beautiful, it was holy, “the very innermost sanctuary of all that is Divine in material creation,” a place where visitors could “commune with Nature’s God.” When his companions failed to behave respectfully, Bunnell reacted as one would in church.
This is not the time warp we want to do again. Or ever. The conservative-majority SCOTUS wants to take us on a detour back in time when folks who aren’t straight white cis men didn’t have rights. A time when we thought of the planet as nothing more than an ashtray. A time when . . . you get the idea. Overturning Roe v Wade was the lowest of blows. Gutting the Clean Air Act stripped power from the EPA to curb greenhouse gas emissions. What’s next?
By Bev Rivero | In the early evening on the first Thursday in March, an excited crowd of invitees gathered at the Museum of the Moving Image to celebrate the first three titles honored by the new Science + Literature program from the National Book Foundation. In addition to the excitement of chatting in person with book folks, the event was a great start to Women’s History Month, as all three books are authored by women.
President Biden sure is making up for lost time. At this year’s tribal nations summit, skipped over the previous four years by you know who, he signed an executive order for the US to take steps to protect tribal lands and address the epidemic of missing and murdered Native Americans. He proposed a ban on federal oil and gas leases on the sacred tribal site of Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. And in his official White House proclamation for Native American Heritage Month, he listed more commitments the country will make to Indian Country.
By Dina Gilio-Whitaker | The Red Power movement was just one aspect of the social revolution that swept across the American social landscape in the 1960s and ’70s, paralleling other ethnic nationalisms, women’s liberation, the antiwar movement, and the emergence of a new, rebellious, and predominantly white middle-class counterculture. Disenchanted with the conservative values of their parents’ generation and witnessing the increasing degradation of the environment, countercultural youth looked to other cultures for answers to existential questions they perceived as unavailable in mainstream American society.
By Philip Warburg | The Better Buildings Act, now making its way through the Massachusetts legislature, is a monumental step toward curbing fossil fuel use by larger commercial and public buildings. Yet even as we focus on these major carbon polluters, we cannot lose sight of the need to bring clean energy solutions to residential communities, particularly those that have been unable to tap the solar energy that shines on their rooftops.
A Q&A with W. J. Herbert | A woman meditates on her impending death and the crisis her species has created in the original version of this manuscript which contained only fossil and specimen poems. “Do these creatures ever answer your speaker’s questions?” asked friend and fellow poet Tim Carrier. They don’t, I told him. He said: “But your readers need a way in.” I wasn’t sure what he meant but, in my heart, I knew he was right: we need to care deeply about the speaker.
By Philip Warburg | The cryptocurrency rush is on. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs now offer Bitcoin as an investment option to preferred clients, and electronic payments giant NCR will soon be offering cryptocurrency services to customers of some 650 smaller banks and credit unions.
By V. P. Franklin | In the fall of 2019, award-winning actress and political activist Jane Fonda felt compelled to launch a campaign of civil disobedience to call attention to the climate crisis facing current and future generations. Atmospheric greenhouse gases had reached their highest levels that year, and the Trump administration was not only denying the climate crisis but was also engaged in striking down federal regulations aimed at mitigating the impact of fossil fuels.
By Andreas Karelas | Based on the latest findings of positive psychology research, I suggest that, in order to address climate change, we need to cultivate different values—values that place a greater emphasis on community and less on consumption—and that living according to these values will have the benefits of reducing our impact on the planet and increasing our personal well-being. To do this I’ll describe what I believe to be an effective three-step approach: (1) cultivate gratitude, (2) choose simplicity, and (3) focus on serving others. If we can learn to be more grateful for what we have, simplify our lives, and put more effort into serving others, I think we’ll be well on our way to a happier, more sustainable world.
A Q&A with Robin Broad and John Cavanagh | This book is about two of the most unlikely and inspiring victories that we’ve ever witnessed or had the privilege to be part of. That these wins take place in a poorer country, one that the United States and global corporations have exploited for decades, makes the wins even more remarkable. As we celebrated the victories, we realized that by sharing the story of these wins in a narrative nonfiction book, we could also share this sense of hope with readers, including readers who may have given up hope in these challenging times.
Two things come to mind this Native American Heritage Month. Compared to whites, Native Americans have been hit hard with a higher percentage of COVID cases, not to mention severe COVID outcomes. On the flip side, voters of Indigenous descent in states like Arizona helped swing the vote in favor of President elect Joe Biden and Vice President elect Kamala Harris. (You’re fired, despotic Cheeto!) Their perseverance and commitment to a democracy that frequently forgets them attest to this year’s theme.
A Discussion with Andreas Karelas, Katharine Hayhoe, and Bill McKibben | Bill, I was recently flipping through your book Falter, and one of the things you write that speaks to a big portion of Climate Courage is that we have two technologies that, if employed, could be decisive to the era: the solar panel and the nonviolent movement. RE-volv, the nonprofit that I founded, finances solar-energy projects for nonprofits that otherwise couldn’t go solar. Those nonprofits can then reduce their electricity costs, benefit the people they serve even more so, and demonstrate to the community the benefits of solar energy.
By Linda Hogan | The story of this land is ancient. The red earth, crags, and canyons were once an inland sea. I imagine the currents when this mountain basin was ocean, water swaying as the moon became full or as wind moved it, swaying. Within the water, a shining circle of fish, many lives all thinking and moving as one. Sea animals hid inside stone caves and indentations that now, so many years later, shelter canyon wrens and swallow nests, once protecting numbers of indwelling bats.
By Philip Warburg | In his newly released $2 trillion energy and infrastructure plan, Joe Biden set a nationwide goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035. Solar power figures prominently in his plan, but it’s not clear whether low-income households will share in this historic opportunity. With racial injustice and economic inequality gaining long-overdue attention, we need to look at the gap between established homeowners who have solar power on their homes and people living in more modest circumstances who can’t afford this climate-friendly investment.
By Philip Warburg | Despite its momentous impact on global warming, air travel continues to fly beneath our environmental radar. Plastic straws and idling cars draw righteous ire, but how many of us take to the skies with unthinking abandon? Left unabated, commercial aviation by mid-century may produce up to a quarter of the carbon emissions that our planet can tolerate if we are to avert the more devastating impacts of climate change.
By Philip Warburg | Before the age of COVID-19, a steady drone of jets could be heard on a typical spring morning outside our home, a dozen miles from Boston’s Logan Airport. Today, we hear a chorus of birds. With air travel down ninety-four percent and half the US commercial plane fleet grounded, members of my family—like millions of other Americans—have sought new ways to communicate and connect. Once the pall of this pandemic has lifted, will we resort less readily to the hypermobility that, until recently, was so integral to our lives?
By Wen Stephenson | As I write, it is six weeks since everything changed where I live, in eastern Massachusetts, when the schools closed and businesses began sending their employees home. Today the Boston Globe reports 39,643 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, and at least 1,809 deaths, more than 400 of them in my county. The US now has more than three-quarters of a million confirmed cases and at least 37,000 deaths, most likely far more, with 2,000 or more dying per day—and unconscionably disproportionate losses in Black and Brown communities. Globally, at least 166,000 people have died. The old and infirm, the poor, the vulnerable, the racially marginalized, suffer most. As always.
A Q&A with Alan Levinovitz | While researching people’s attitudes towards food, I found that the idea of naturalness came up constantly. The “right” diet was a “natural” diet. And yet, despite widespread agreement on the goodness of what’s natural, there was complete disagreement about the meaning of the term. As I started paying more attention to the term, I realized that using “natural” as a vague synonym for “good” or “right” was omnipresent in virtually every aspect of human culture.
By J. A. Mills | What happened after the book ended? Did China finally bend to international will and stop farming tigers, rhinos, and bears like cows and pigs? Readers still write to ask me five years after Beacon Press published “Blood of the Tiger: A Story of Conspiracy, Greed, and the Battle to Save a Magnificent Species.” My answer, as of this moment—when COVID-19 has shut down much of the world—is this: You can watch the rest of the story unfold in real time.