Ecology

Panhandle Postcard

Panhandle Postcard

The solidarity of evacuation, even if each car was its own small ecosystem of panic, grief, and merriment

This walk at the end of the day was meant to cleanse the palette. But as the sky went from pale purple to deep purple, the roiling Gulf of Mexico disappearing into darkness, we again turned to our phones. First to mine, looking at images of the fallen trees, fallen houses, the map that indicated that power was out in all of New Orleans. Then she showed me her friends’ snaps, the ones who were still in New Orleans, “hunkering down,” in the parlance. “Riding it out.” The snap of water coming into the house, under a door; the snap of the doughy cookies that were in progress when the power went out.

Four Hurricanes

Four Hurricanes

Every hurricane that hits, for the ones it fucks up, is the worst one ever

State officials lease our land to petrochemical engineering companies that produce the plastics and poisons that all but ensure we lose everything to climate change, at which point they will find someplace else to go. There are fewer and fewer wetlands to buffer storms on their way to the shore as a result of catastrophic losses to the region’s biodiversity. Don’t get me fucking started on the damming of the Mississippi, which would otherwise naturally rebuild the marsh by continuously depositing sediment it brought down.

Infrastructure, Infrastructure!

Infrastructure, Infrastructure!

An interview with Julian Brave NoiseCat

Activists get mad at the overly cautious politicians. Politicians get mad at the activists for asking them to do stuff that might cost them their jobs. Various coalition actors get mad that a focus on environmental racism means that some unionized workers might have to stop doing what they’re doing. Environmental justice folks feel that workers don’t think or care enough the impacts of what they do.

They Thought They Had the Energy

They Thought They Had the Energy

Emily Grubert on Texas, energy infrastructure, and the prospects for renewables

It’s not just climate and weather that make these events bad. A lot of the time, it’s really the intersection between unusual events—events that are outside design parameters—and the fact that on the infrastructure side we have a lot of issues with long-term deferred maintenance and obsolescence.

The Remainder

The Remainder

He knew the sympathy he felt was a kind of trick

As Guy walked back to the compound now, his flashlight stabbed into visibility tunnels of the night woods, tangents along his curving path. Somehow at every step it was surprising that there wasn’t anyone but him in any of the tunnels. Like everyone else, he had fantasies of his own of living for himself in the years that were remaining — of giving up law, in his case. The trouble was, the remainder might stretch for as long as a century; no one knew. And Guy had reached the age past which it is no longer in one to become a different person, not even one’s true self. 

The Earth Dreams in Ritual

The Earth Dreams in Ritual

I’m developing an intimate relationship to weeds

What was I doing on Zoom? Everyone was outside. Doing the Corona Waltz: six-foot radius, smile, nod, little bow. It was at that point that I started to dream with the planet. I noticed weeds for the first time, as if they were long-lost little friends. Weeds also live in liminal space: ignored, trampled on, not even seen. And yet they grow together, egalitarian, in resilient communist clusters.

Electric Cars: An Update

Electric Cars: An Update

Doors rattle, touchscreens melt

Which automaker “had to his credit,” in the words of Michigan senator Arthur Vandenberg, “more erratic interviews, more dubious quotations, more blandly boasted ignorance of American history, more political nonsense and more dangerous propaganda than any other dependable citizen that we have known”? Well, Henry Ford. But also, a hundred years later, Elon Musk.

Move Always Toward a Deepening Obscurity

Move Always Toward a Deepening Obscurity

“Think like a mountain” is a very tall order

Lost causes, anachronisms: the theme of my life. Born to a small family farm, just before the death of the small family farm. Student and practitioner of print journalism, just before the demise of print journalism. Writer of books at a time when attention spans are being eroded in the acid bath of social media. Now: fire lookout. I sometimes try to imagine what’s next. Taxi driver? Typewriter repairman?