Ta-Nehisi Coates: Not an optimist. Not on Twitter

The writer, journalist, and thinker Ta-Nehisi Coates has been embroiled in controversy for years now. Seemingly his every move attracts controversy, (for reasons mysterious to small-town hick yours truly). Near as I can tell Coates has not been doing anything another prominent and successful writer wouldn’t like to do, such as moving to Paris forContinue reading “Ta-Nehisi Coates: Not an optimist. Not on Twitter”

Kingsnorth: Environmental activism doesn’t work

Because the scientific news about climate change continues to cast a gloomy shadow over our future, and perhaps because the press is bored with the usual happy Earth Day talk, two prominent magazines featured this week scathing denunciations of climate activism. 

In Pacific Standard, James McWilliams of Texas State University calls for a Kafka-esque "narrative of complete and utter ruin," as opposed to the false hope offered by the likes of activist Bill McKibben:

…the problem with climate change discourse isn’t the skeptic. It’s the true believer—and the fact that, for him, the slow burn of global warming obviates radical action despite knowing that nothing else will do. This paradox leaves many of us who take climate change seriously more or less speechless—or merely talking about building codes—while the planet cooks due to our hyper-charged consumerism.

Meanwhile The New York Times Magazine features the journey in thought of Paul Kingsnorth, formerly a British environmental activist, now a man who has now simply had it with efforts to slow or halt climate change and environmental degradation. He thinks it's useless. 

“Everything had gotten worse,” Kingsnorth said. “You look at every trend that environmentalists like me have been trying to stop for 50 years, and every single thing had gotten worse. And I thought: I can’t do this anymore. I can’t sit here saying: ‘Yes, comrades, we must act! We only need one more push, and we’ll save the world!’ I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it! So what do I do?”

Ray Bradbury the environmental activist

In a lovely tribute to the late great writer Ray Bradbury, Felicity Barringer of the inevitable New York Times shows us how much he cared for our planetary home, and how little he trusted our species:   Unlike classic environmental writing that focuses largely on the good that nature does for the soul or mankindContinue reading “Ray Bradbury the environmental activist”

Santorum: Global Warming is a dangerous world view

Leading in the national polls in the Republican party, at least for this week, Rick Santorum denies on Face the Nation that he ever said President Obama wasn't a Christian, though he implied as much yesterday with a remark about his phony theology. Today he implies that Obama's faith has been corrupted by environmentalism:  IContinue reading “Santorum: Global Warming is a dangerous world view”

Bumbling environmentalists, according to Carl Hiassen

The great newspaperman and comic/detective novelist discusses journalism, esp. environmental journalism, with Curtis Brainard:  Newspaper cutbacks are a recurring theme in your novels. How do you see them affecting environmental journalism? They’re a grave threat, because the first things that tend to go are investigative and explanatory journalists. Everything becomes shorter and more bite-sized. EnvironmentalContinue reading “Bumbling environmentalists, according to Carl Hiassen”

The beautiful secret: Robinson Jeffers

From an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: [Robinson] Jeffers celebrated the "transhuman magnificence" of nature, the beautiful things both vast and near that can provide even a 21st century reader with solace, even if we are often a muddled, ugly species and even if all things, as they do, fade away.  Don't often hearContinue reading “The beautiful secret: Robinson Jeffers”

Love is the engine, but love is not remembered

So writes Charles Bowden, in the award-winning Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing.  This is an "environmental" book, but I don't believe Bowden ever mentions that word. Yet unlike nearly every other book about nature I can think save a couple written by John Muir or Edward Abbey, this "environmental" book does bring up "love"Continue reading “Love is the engine, but love is not remembered”

Tom Friedman, Cut to Shreds

Matt Taibbi is the writer as slasher. When you finish with one of his pieces you feel a little light-headed, as you might feel if you were a tough guy, and had just rolled some local thug. But the thing is, in Taibbi's case, the thug (be it Bush, Palin, or Erica Jong) always seemsContinue reading “Tom Friedman, Cut to Shreds”

Nothing is More Conservative

In l990, Gary Snyder dedicated a new library at UC Davis with a magnificent speech, perhaps the single most eloquent “environmental” speech I’ve ever heard or read.  In it he gave us the library as a watershed, of things and thoughts, and found its commonality with the land on which it stands. It’s called “TheContinue reading “Nothing is More Conservative”

Not Against the Environment: Against Environmentalists

Sometimes I think rightwingers (I’m talking about you, Jonah) write these columns just to drive enviros up the wall. It’s such malarkey, to put it politely. Goldberg admits he’s no environmentalist, blames John Muir for environmentalism (which of course includes heinous measures to improve air quality, water quality, and reduce energy consumption) and claims he’sContinue reading “Not Against the Environment: Against Environmentalists”