Somewhere, it’s raining
Part of the problem with pre-writing anything and scheduling it is how much can change, even in the few hours that may pass in between. When I wrote my last newsletter I was counting down the hours until Pesach wrapped; when it published I was reading about another shooting at a synagogue. It felt strange when it arrived in my inbox, but I think that is sort of the nature of things these days “now,” or whatever we’re calling this particular moment in human history, which began at some point (I’m not sure when) and will I think maybe end at some point (I’m not sure when.) We’ll be not like this, I think, although I’m not sure when.
Anyways, even that feels forever ago. It’s been so long since Pesach and now it’s Ramzan and that doesn’t impact me much in that I’m not Muslim but does a lot in that people I care about are. So I have a lot of fasting people around me, which is unappealing in that I have solidarity pangs (I absolutely hate my once-a-year Yom Kippur fast), and kind of appealing in that I always appreciate the things people do to better themselves and the ways in which they make and cement community. If you’re celebrating, Ramzan mubarak (or Ramadan kareem, my world is very Urdu-heavy, sorry)!
Pesach being gone also means spring is fading — another strange thing. Starting off a year always feels dramatic and then suddenly five months have gone by and everything feels much farther along. At the beginning of this year I made so many plans and some of them are buzzing along and some of them are barely even ideas anymore and some of them I’m kicking on and on down the road, repeatedly, to a later date when I have the time or energy or willpower. So much of my life is thinking about climate policy and politics, because that’s my job, and so much of the rest of my life is just putting my head into books or going to the gym, or forcing myself onto a bike in the hopes of being less scared of it, maybe, eventually. The prospect of doing anything else feels really daunting and it always has and nothing about it being 2019 and not 2018 really changed that.
I did consciously decide to revise this newsletter a bit at the beginning of the year, something that has happened, slowly and bumpily. Once this was a space for me to follow world news and now it isn’t, and that broke my heart a little bit but great news, life goes on. I used to spend my time thinking about maps and places I’d never been to or had been to and wanted to be again; now, I think a lot about the 2018 IPCC report and whether or not 2050 and not 2030 is a timeline to go to war over on Twitter and also whether I’ve properly explained carbon pricing to a reader who might be baffled. So far, this year has been a lot of me thinking about who I was when I came to D.C. and who I am now and deciding if I’m alright with the changes and honestly I have no idea! But if I’m going to change anyway, does it really matter?
During a shift this weekend I wrote about the flooding in Texas that killed someone in my hometown and immediately afterwards it began pouring rain in D.C. I think less now about places that are far away and more about how all places are near, to some extent, and how things impact and shape them all at the same time, or slowly in a series of moments, one after the other. More and more I think about eventually leaving D.C. and going somewhere else, probably somewhere I’ve never lived before and weirdly probably some place in this country, even though I always thought I would be leaving here by now. And it will probably be raining there too, maybe after passing over Texas first, and I will probably think about that also, and it will probably mean something to me then, too.
Me: Beto O’Rourke’s first major policy was a climate change proposal. (And Jay Inslee has one too!) An uncontroversial Paris Agreement bill offered House Democrats an easy win on climate action and on posturing. The Interior Department slashed offshore safety measures put in place after the BP oil spill.
Great news, PFAS is everywhere. The solar industry is white and male. While stalling on disaster aid, Trump visited the devastated Florida Panhandle this week. Thirty-four Republicans also broke ranks to pass the disaster bill out of the House — but it may be doomed in the Senate. And deadly flooding has inundated Texas, as the contiguous U.S. marks its 12 wettest months on record.
Elsewhere: Climate change and your eating habits. Why have America’s black farmers disappeared? The U.N. says that 1 million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction thanks to humans. Absolutely read about moving 1 million people out of the way of a cyclone and how India is getting better at addressing extreme weather. Farming is heading indoors as climate impacts mount. America’s most polluted coal ash site is in Texas.
Relatedly: In the Texas Hill Country, it’s property owners vs. pipelines. The Midwestern floods are pitting communities against each other. CityLab had a great piece on mapping environmental justice across cities. The U.K. is preparing for a 4˚C rise globally. The Guardian is looking at cancer alley. And to finish you with Texas, Austin voted this week to back the Green New Deal.
“I’m not a religious person but.” Antisemitism and Islamophobia go hand-in-hand. Nova Scotia is the most underrated Canadian province and Keji is wonderful. The Blackfeet Nation wants its own national park. Let us consider: Ali Smith. Unconscious bias is running for president. Queer baking in the South as a means of comfort. The problem with giving Armenia credit for Georgia’s national dish.
Looking at West Virginia through the eyes of the people who actually live there. Elizabeth Bishop and coming out late. Stonewall at 50, including a lovely reflection on why a queer riot in NYC might not be as meaningful for queer Southerners as our own history.
Spoken & Written
Murtaza Hussain on the bigotry facing Jews and Muslims: “The fact is that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the West flow from one source: the quest for ethnic purity. Those who accept one bigotry while thinking they will be safe from the other are living a delusion.”
Bryan Washington, on queer Southern baking: “There’s something to be said about the role of queer bakers: we often end up providing comfort to those who may not have given it to us.”
This is probably mortifying but I’m re-reading a number of Sarah Waters books; historical lesbian romances are underrated excellence!!!!
My partner pushed us to buy rhubarb last weekend and we took The Best Recipe In The World and replaced the plums with rhubarb and berries, and folks, it was excellent.