The Atlantic Daily: A Sea Change for Climate Change

A ragtag group of climate advocates is on the offensive. Plus a fertility doctor's secret children, calculating what unpaid NCAA players could earn, and more

Lindsey Wasson / Reuters

What We’re Following

For the first time in years, climate advocates are going on the offensive. The Trump administration has frequently abnegated the science of global warming, but now a ragtag crop of politicians, activists, and rank-and-file voters are pushing the issue to the forefront of national debate. At least eight 2020 presidential candidates name it a top issue, while at the grassroots level, students worldwide, including thousands in the U.S., staged walkouts to protest inaction. Unless this heightened public consciousness has any effect on GOP lawmakers, federal-policy changes may still prove elusive. But, said one researcher: “If you had asked me a year ago if we would’ve been talking this much about climate change now, I would’ve said, ‘Absolutely not.’”

Quarantining workers over illnesses can lead to other unintended consequences. As measles outbreaks rage on, most recently with nearly 80 confirmed cases in Washington State, that practice is worth scrutiny. Some working-class families face steep repercussions for being off work as part of a quarantine, with unpaid bills leading to phone lines being cut, or even unpaid rent leading to eviction. The U.S. is one of few industrialized countries without a federal mandatory-paid-sick-leave policy to keep people at home and not fretting about bills during an illness—which can make measles outbreaks both financially harmful for some Americans and more dangerous to the general public.

The March Madness basketball tournament kicks off Tuesday, with two men’s games. The event is known for its bracket-busting upsets and last-second buzzer beaters, and this year, Duke is the early favorite to win the men’s tournament. That’s in large part due to Zion Williamson, whose on-court domination has led to lofty characterizations of him as the second coming of the NBA star LeBron James. Williamson is destined to turn his talent into a multimillion-dollar NBA contract once the college season is over, though a freak injury weeks earlier nearly brought those dreams tumbling down—and highlighted an unsavory truth for the NCAA. (One thought: If the league actually paid its college athletes, how much should they be earning?)

Evening Reads

The Fertility Doctor’s Secret

(The Voorhes; portraits by Alyssa Schukar; AP)

The Indiana fertility doctor Donald Cline must have thought no one would ever know. Then DNA testing came along.

It was only when Heather Woock got home and replaced her phone that she saw the barrage of messages from even more half siblings. They had found her on Facebook, she realized, after searching for the username linked to her account. Her husband had given her a DNA test for Christmas because she was interested in genealogy. Her heritage turned out to be exactly what she had thought—Scottish, with English, Irish, and Scandinavian mixed in—and she never bothered to click on the link that would show whether anyone on the site shared her DNA.

Apparently she did have relatives on—and not just distant cousins. The people now sending her messages said they were Cline’s secret biological children. They said their parents had also been treated by Cline. They said that decades ago, without ever telling his patients, Cline had used his own sperm to impregnate women who came to him for artificial insemination.

According to her DNA, Woock, too, was one of his children.

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Netflix's OA returns

(Netflix / Paul Spella / The Atlantic)

One of the strangest and most original shows on television is coming back later this week. Sophie Gilbert spent some time with The OA’s creators, Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, to understand how Marling and Batmanglij were able to tell a sincere story in an age when audiences expect irony and cynicism.

Many people loved The OA. Some hated it. Critics were particularly polarized by the show’s use of choreographed movements as a key plot point, and by the Season 1 finale, which—minor spoilers ahead—involved a dramatic act of faith, in which the OA’s followers used those movements to try to stop a school shooting. Some accused Marling and Batmanglij of tastelessness in using the most awful of American tragedies to conclude their story. For my part, I thought they’d earned it, having spent time during the rest of the season exploring the ways in which violent impulses can be fostered. I’ve gone back to watch that scene several times since, sometimes just because it offers feelings—catharsis and hope—that are in short supply.

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Urban Developments

Manhattan's Hudson Yards

(Mark Lennihan / AP)

Our partner site CityLab explores the cities of the future and investigates the biggest ideas and issues facing urban dwellers around the world. Claire Tran shares today’s top stories:

With a mega-mall and luxury apartments, Hudson Yards in Manhattan is the largest private real-estate development in the history of the United States, according to the team behind the project. Rather than a vision of the future, the architecture critic James S. Russell writes, it’s a snapshot of the concentrated-wealth present.

A new study reveals how rich neighborhoods are driving educational inequality, challenging a central assumption that poor areas, and the people who live in them, are the problem.

For years now, Barcelona has been making a threat to landlords: If you don’t find tenants for empty buildings, we will fine you. Now, the city has gone further than ever, levying $3.17 million in fines against two uncooperative investment funds.

Keep up with the most pressing, interesting, and important city stories of the day. Subscribe to the CityLab Daily newsletter.

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