Happy summer, friends. Today, I finish my turn to direct this newsletter. So, this is a thank you card.
I became a climate reporter after many years as an international correspondent because I could see how the climate crisis is affecting everything from how people farm to how nations enact geopolitics.
That’s why I chose to anchor this newsletter for you. I wanted to show you, in short, bite-sized pieces, not only the dangers of global warming, but who is doing what to deal with it. I wanted to share with you the wonderful work of my colleagues. I wanted to guide us through sometimes impenetrable debates and explain, simply, how it matters to everyday people in our everyday lives. I wrote from a place of neither hope nor despair, exactly, but from the perspective of an OK-now-what-do-we-do pragmatist.
So, for almost a year and a half, supported by Douglas Alteen, Manuela Andreoni, Claire O’Neill, Adam Pasick and many others who came to help, Team Climate Forward unpacked things like dull climate negotiations in Sharm el Sheikh (“parade of men “, as I described in my postcard) and the biggest US climate legislation of my lifetime (plus tips on how US residents can take advantage of some of that climate help).
We covered the news about deadly heat in India and teased the geopolitical consequences of unusually warm weather in Europe (“Winter is trolling the Kremlin,” I wrote).
You came with me on road trips with The Teenager, once to Costa Rica, another time through Central California. You sent us your stories about the wild creatures around you. You told us about intergenerational confrontations in your families. Some of you wanted to know why we didn’t write about population growth. So, we did. And showed you why that’s not really a big problem.
You sent us kind notes. You complained. I read everything. It made me a better journalist. Sometimes, it moved me. thank you
I learned three things from my Climate Forward experience.
One, it is impossible to look away from the climate crisis. The burning of fossil fuels burns even the countries that burn a lot of them, like the United States. The latest, most horrific example came last month, with people in many parts of the United States suffering in dangerous, record-breaking heat. There is little doubt that it is being enhanced by human-caused climate change.
Two, we live in a time of great change. The global economy no longer runs solely on coal, oil and gas. Solar energy is expanding faster than even its champions imagined. Every car manufacturer in the US is developing electric cars. Electric heat pumps are on the rise in Europe. Of course, the change is not fast enough. Greenhouse gases are climbing dangerously. But two things can be true at the same time. The challenge of writing about climate change is keeping both in your brain.
Three, the people who change their daily lives most aggressively are the ones who are not responsible for the problem of climate change. I’ve shared their stories with you, from South Korea to Bangladesh to Uganda. Sometimes, their strategies work. Sometimes they don’t, with dangerous consequences.
This is perhaps the most important lesson for me, which I tried to distill in a recent essay. “As a climate journalist, my fellow Americans ask me a perennial question: What do I do in the face of a crisis this big and complicated?” I wrote “The answer I witnessed on a recent reporting trip to East and Southern Africa: everything.”
This is what I want to write more about in the coming months. The everything.
First, I will be taking a long summer break. The speed of the newsletter kept my quick-thinking brain very fit. But my slow brain is really weak.
When I come back, I will accept a new role, traveling and writing about how people are changing their lives in the face of the climate crisis. Spoiler alert: Expect to read more about food. To keep my quick-thinking muscles in shape, I’ll jump in to offer climate analysis on big news events.
Now, I pass the baton into the capable hands of David Gelles, whose voice you have heard several times in the newsletter. Lucky for you, Manuela Andreoni (read her essay about her mom) will continue to write for Climate Forward.
Thanks again for coming along on this ride with me.
Key news from The Times
Global heat records are broken: The past three days have very likely been the hottest in Earth’s modern history, and we may be headed for a multi-year period of exceptional warmth.
The talks between the United States and China will resume: John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, said he will travel to China next week to restart negotiations after a year-long freeze.
Shipping Emissions Agreement: Negotiators from nearly all countries reached an interim agreement aimed at eliminating greenhouse emissions from cargo ships by mid-century.
The economic rate of warming: Wildfires in Canada have disrupted oil and gas operations, dampened tourism and imposed untold costs on the country’s health care system.
A new type of disaster relief: Countries are experimenting with distributing small sums of money to help their poorest citizens protect themselves and their homes from extreme weather.
Plan to change, fast: Michigan has long been a latecomer when it comes to climate action, but disruptions caused by global warming appear to be changing the minds of state lawmakers.
More wind energy: A federal agency has approved the construction of 98 wind turbine generators off the coast of New Jersey. It is an important step in President Biden’s energy transition plans.
Times book review
Why aren’t we more afraid of heat? In “The Heat Will Kill You First,” Jeff Goodell documents the deadly consequences of rising temperatures.
From outside The Times
The Atlantic explained why Antarctica is the last place some tourist should go.
From The Associated Press: The United States has decided to make it easier for scientists to relocate plants and animals outside their native ecosystems as last resort to save species.
Smith Island, in Maryland, could soon be wiped off the map by rising seas. But according to The Washington Post, home sales are growing.
Grist interviewed experts who say hackers are targeting EV chargers. Most breaches are innocuous, but more complex plots could go awry entire electrical networks.
Before you go: a star predator in a surprising place
There were to be no wolves in New York State. When a hunter shot one near Cooperstown in 2021, it opened a new front in the wars over what may be America’s most beloved and reviled predator. Some environmentalists say the episode proved that wolves are making a comeback and that government agencies must do more to seek out and protect the animals.
Manuela Andreoni, Claire O’Neill, Chris Plourde and Douglas Alteen contributed to Climate Forward.
Thanks for being a subscriber. We’ll be back on Tuesday with a new host, David Gelles.