Reckoning With Doom

Kolbert.jpgWe have featured work by Elizabeth Kolbert since the earliest days of this platform, about twice a year. A year ago we linked to The Fate of Earth, which remains a favorite.

LongformShe has chosen to focus her work on the existential environmental challenges created by mankind, and unflinchingly reports on what we collectively are, and more often are not, doing about those challenges. The word doom always comes to mind when I see her name or think about her work. Today I am recommending this rare interview with her, in which she shares personal reflections on what it is like to do the work she does, and about 40 minutes in touches on how and why she persists with her work, even knowing that most people simply cannot bear to face the facts she is presenting:

Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change and The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

“I still nurse the idea in my heart of hearts that something you write, that there’s some key to this all. We’re all looking for the skeleton key that’s going to unlock it, and people will go, ‘Oh, that’s why we have to do something!’ I don’t want to say that I completely dispensed with that. I think that’s what motivates most journalists—this information is going to somehow make a difference. On the other hand, I have dispensed a lot of that. Now we’re so deep into all of this. The more you know about climate change and the numbers involved and the scale involved of what we need to do to really mitigate this problem, you know that we’re moving in absolutely the wrong direction. It’s not like we’re moving slowly, we’re moving in the wrong direction. It’s very hard to say anything I write is going to turn this battleship around.”

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