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A Few Reading Recommendations
A list of books and longform stories to read this holiday break
I was planning to publish an investigative story this week. But then I realized that a lot of people are already on vacation. And my story doesn’t quite have that holiday cheer most you would probably like to read around this time of year. Instead, this edition of the newsletter will be a bit different.
First, I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported my reporting thus far. I launched the Distilled newsletter a little more than month ago. Since then, about 2,000 of you subscribed to receive my stories in your inbox, and about 70 of you chipped in $5 per month to support my work. Your support means the world to me.
Next up, I thought I’d share some reading recommendations for those of you who have a bit more time on your hands over the next week.
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Two stories that meet the current moment
In her story, Kolbert quotes Pliny the Elder who observed, “Hope is the pillar that holds up the world…Hope is the dream of a waking man.”
A year ago, it was hard to feel much hope. On December 19th, Senator Joe Manchin went on Fox News to announce that he would not vote for Build Back Better. It appeared that Democrats would squander their opportunity to pass an historic climate bill.
Then everything changed.
In August, Congress passed the largest climate bill in American history. Just a month later, the Senate ratified the Kigali Agreement, a policy that will help avoid a staggering 80 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 2050 and 0.5° Celsius of warming by the end of the century. All around the world, countries took similarly bold action.
As Wallace-Wells points out in his story, just a few years ago, most climate projections looked apocalyptic. Climate scientists anticipated between three and five degrees of warming. Thanks to all the pledges and policies passed in the time since, scientists believe we’re now on track for two to three degrees of warming.
But while there’s been a lot of action in recent years, it hasn’t been enough. Carbon emissions are still rising, not falling. Humans are still destroying rainforests, wetlands, and other ecosystems at breakneck speed. For all the action we’ve taken, it’s still just a drop in the bucket.
As Kolbert writes, “To say that amazing work is being done to combat climate change and to say that almost no progress has been made is not a contradiction; it’s a simple statement of fact.”
These two stories embrace and articulate the complexity of our current moment. If you’ve ever felt whiplash from reading an article about floods in Pakistan followed by one about the passage of an historic climate bill, I recommend these stories.
Climate change from A to Z by Elizabeth Kolbert
Beyond Catastrophe by David Wallace-Wells.
Yesterday, I asked my followers on Twitter for the best climate books they read in 2022. Here were a few common recommendations:
All We Can Save by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Dr. Katharine Wilkinson
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Bulter
Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
American War by Omar El Akkad
Here’s the full list:
Alright, that’s it for this week. In the new year, I’m planning to publish a story about a man who is leading a nationwide effort to kill the offshore wind industry. Stay tuned for that.
And finally happy holidays!
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