This is The Atlantic’s weekly email to subscribers, a close look at the issues our newsroom is watching. As always, you can talk with us by replying directly to this email.
We already know that Earth’s weather is, to put it lightly, out of whack. The Atlantic’s approach to covering climate change is to recognize that it’s the backdrop to our daily lives, not just because of the weather. It’s not a distant threat, but “a force that is already reconfiguring business, culture, society, and life” on this planet. This week, I invited our science reporter Robinson Meyer, who writes our weekly climate newsletter, to tell us more about how global warming is reshaping our world today.
One of the ironies of climate change is that, if it weren’t so scary, it would be the most interesting problem in the world to tackle. Think about it for a second. The form of chemical energy that powers the global industrial economy, that forges steel, animates data centers, and sends planes soaring through the sky, has to be switched out in the next few decades if we have any hope of avoiding widespread planetary immiseration. We have to move from an economy that relies on coal, natural gas, and oil to one that springs from wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear, and other zero-carbon fuels.
And if we don’t do so, we won’t only suffer through worse droughts, floods, hailstorms, and the rest of the usual climate-disaster litany. We’ll relinquish our birthright as a species. Tropical coral reefs, in their current form, took 50 million years (or so) to evolve—yet we could lose much of them over the next 50 years if we don’t rapidly start decarbonizing.
The climate challenge, in other words, has it all—high drama, high stakes, maybe even high romance.
That is the climate story that we tell in The Atlantic’s climate section, Planet. We cover climate change not only as an environmental story, but one about the stubborn stuff of the world: money, politics, biology, technology, power, ideas.
If you’re interested in following that tale—in understanding how the climate and energy transition is reshaping our world today—then you should read our weekly climate newsletter, The Weekly Planet.
In The Weekly Planet, I catch you up on the latest climate news and help guide you through the changing world. For instance:
I’ve covered President Joe Biden’s proposal to spend trillions on climate-related infrastructure, which shows how much could happen in the next five years.
I’ve broken news on new power centers, such as Jeff Bezos’s new $10 billion climate fund.
I’ve even talked with a philosopher about what new technology that sucks carbon from the sky could mean for the future of politics.
I’ve reported on climate change since before the Paris Agreement was signed, and I can’t remember a moment when the beat was changing this quickly. There is suddenly a semi-regular trickle of good climate news. The task of addressing the warming planet is no longer charged to scientists and activists: It now rests with engineers, marketers, coders, plumbers, teachers, lawyers, families, and voters.
In other words, this huge challenge—one of the greatest tasks of humanity in the 21st century—is just beginning to get interesting. It is an exciting, disorienting, and maybe even hopeful time for the climate. I hope you’ll follow our coverage online and join our community of newsletter readers.
The Weekly Planet would also like to hear from you: Every week, Rob features a weather photo from a reader or professional, because the climate is someone else’s weather. Recently, reader Steve Lavender shared this sun-pierced downpour in Renton, Washington. If you would like to submit yours, sign up for the newsletter here.
The world is getting hotter, and the divide between rich and poor is getting bigger.
Why the rescue bill is (sort of) a climate bill
Among all possible climate actions, recycling ranks pretty low in its impact.
And the world’s largest polluter plans its next five years.
Our climate models could be missing something big.
It’s smashing, in the bad way.
Evan a pandemic can’t stop people from buying clothes they don’t need.
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