The Prescience of Octavia Butler

Octavia E. Butler Tribute NYC, June 5, 2006 (by Houari B. CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED via Flickr).

The effects of climate change are reshaping America. Those with sufficient resources retreat inside protected communities. Those with even greater resources finance an exploratory Mars mission, presumably in an attempt to one day escape Earth’s destabilization. In the political realm, a populist presidential candidate denounces claims made by scientists, promising the electorate that he’s going to “return us to the glory, wealth, and order of the twentieth century.” This is life in 2024…Or at least it’s life in 2024 as imagined by the writer Octavia Butler 31 years ago…

How Octavia Butler Told the Future – the Atlantic

Panel at the American Writers Museum in Chicago (by valoisem CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED via Flickr).

As a science fiction writer, Butler forged a new path and envisioned bold possibilities. On the eve of a major revival of her work, this is the story of how she came to see a future that is now our present..

Sorry, Honey, It’s Too Hot for Camp (Podcast) – Atlantic Radio

Hot Walk (by Moodycamera Photography CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr).

Summer is getting too hot and dangerous, killing the childhood of our imaginations.

A heat dome in Texas. Wildfire smoke polluting the air in the East and Midwest. The signs are everywhere that our children’s summers will look nothing like our own. In this episode, we talk with the climate writer Emma Pattee about how hot is too hot to go outside. The research is thin and the misconceptions are many—but experts are quickly looking into nuances of how and why children suffer in the heat, so we can prepare for a future that’s already here…

Every Coastal Home Is Now a Stick of Dynamite – the Atlantic

Aerial view of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast, Oct. 30, 2012. (DVIDSHUB: U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

Wealthy homeowners will escape flooding. The middle class can’t.

The Langfords got out of Houston just in time. Only two months after Sara and her husband, Phillip, moved to Norfolk, Virginia, in June 2017, Hurricane Harvey struck, destroying their previous house and rendering Sara’s family homeless…

The Earth Transformed: An Untold History – Reviewed in the Atlantic

In his sweeping new book, Peter Frankopan looks at how the climate has changed human society—and how we have changed the climate.
Does climate change directly influence the weather we experience? Until recently—for the past 40 years or so—that question has followed nearly every major hurricane or flood, every record snowfall or heat wave. In some people, it provokes instant denial, often political or economic, often rooted in prideful ignorance…

Suddenly, California Has Too Much Water – the Atlantic

The storm-swollen San Lorenzo River floods land along Ocean Street Extension in Santa Cruz, California at right, on Monday January 9, 2023. MAGAZINES OUT © 2023 Shmuel Thaler - Santa Cruz Sentinel

The state is being tossed between awful climate extremes.

In the Talmudic parable of Honi the Circle Maker, the drought-stricken people of Jerusalem send up a prayer that God should deliver them rain. And sure enough, after a few false starts, he does. Except that once the rain starts, it won’t let up. It pours and pours until the people are forced to flee to higher ground, their homes flooded by the answer to their prayer…

How Long Until Alaska’s Next Oil Disaster? – the Atlantic

Cook Inlet from Homer (by Dave Bezaire CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr).

More than 30 years after the devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill, many Alaskans are still haunted by the possibility of another such disaster. Some felt that those fears were about to be realized in 2020, when the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) began preparing to auction off development rights to a million acres of Cook Inlet, a proposal known as Lease Sale 258…