May 26, 2021
Debates about reversing climate change can be understood as a tension between two groups: wizards and prophets.
According to Charles C. Mann, wizards are tech-optimists, those who believe that technology resolves more problems than it creates, that technology will save us from the climate crisis. It has advanced us this far, and it will continue to do so. Think of the innovations in alternative energy, such as wind or solar power.
On the other hand, prophets are more focused on how culture shapes our choices. They believe we need to live more within our means, exercise more humility about what we're able to control or even manage. For prophets, we face this climate crisis because of human hubris and the reality that we are taking more from the earth than it can give.
This is certainly a clarifying model for understanding the discourse around our perhaps most ubiquitous challenge in the twenty-first century. But what if there's a more productive middle way between these two perspectives?
Jeffrey Howard talks with Ross Kenyon, a cofounder of the Nori carbon removal marketplace where he serves as Creative Editor. He has had a varied career, working in an academic center and taking PhD coursework in political philosophy before switching to screenwriting and producing content. He currently leads Nori's creative media efforts, hosting their Reversing Climate Change podcast and producing the Carbon Removal Newsroom podcast.
Kenyon exemplifies a curiosity-driven approach to reversing climate change. He minimizes polemics or alarmist rhetoric, hoping that doing so will bring more voices to the climate crisis table. While he freely admits his communication style doesn't work for everyone, he believes we need this pluralistic vision to reversing climate change if we're going to have much success in reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
A few questions to ponder. What role does literature or climate fiction have in convincing us of the urgency around the climate crisis? How bad are things now, and what will our failure to reverse climate change mean for geopolitical issues such as war, immigration, starvation, and drought? How do we get people with conflicting ideologies to work together toward shared problems, and what should we personally be doing to help reverse climate change?
"Going Home with Wendell Berry" by Amanda Petrusich (2019)
Essays, 1993-2017 by Wendell Berry (2019)
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver by Mary Oliver (2019)
The Wizard and the Prophet by Charles C. Mann (2019)
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013)
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson (2020)
On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (1859)
All Hell Breaking Loose by Michael T. Klare (2019)
"Treating Carbon Emissions Like Trash Collection Could Reverse Climate Change" by Paul Gambill (2018)