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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Doomsday narratives about climate change don't work. But here's what does

Doomsday narratives about climate change don

The title of David Wallace-Wells’ recent essay in New York magazine is catchy, if not uncomfortable. “The Uninhabitable Earth: Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreck – sooner than you think.”

The article asks us to peer beyond scientific reticence into a doomsday future. The accounts of mass heat deaths in cities and praying for cornfields in the tundra is disturbing, but they’re familiar. It’s the same frame for how we talk about a much more immediate climate change disaster – US communities at risk to sea level rise today. 

We’ve labeled Shishmaref, Alaska, a community that voted to relocate because of climate change impacts last August, a “tragedy of a village built on ice”. We’ve marketed Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, the first US town to receive federal funding to relocate, as climate change refugees watching their town slip into the sea. And we ask “Should the United States Save Tangier Island From Oblivion?” on the Chesapeake Bay island’s future. 

Each of these follows a recognizable storyline: a vanishing island, a culture slipping away and an ensemble of characters unsure of what their future holds. Each piece tells a cookie-cutter version of a vulnerable village in fear of rising tides and residents as victims on the frontline of climate change.

Full story at

Source: The Guardian

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