The Atlantic Explores the Future of Living With Climate Change in New Planet Series

New report on cobalt mining and the clean-energy revolution

In a new series of in-depth features, The Atlantic is canvassing the globe to report on some of the biggest questions and consequences of how we experience and adapt to climate change. This new reporting focus is part of Planet, The Atlantic’s guide to life on a warming planet. Several features have so far been published, with additional reports to appear throughout 2022.

In the latest article, “Idaho Is Sitting on One of the Most Important Elements on Earth,” Michael Holtz reports that the clean-energy revolution is unleashing a rush on cobalt, reviving old mines—and old questions—in a remote forest. Holtz writes: “It’s tempting to see Blackbird and Cobalt as cautionary tales—to conclude that mines will always create environmental disasters and that mining booms are always followed by devastating busts. And yet during the two weeks I spent in and around Salmon, many people I met expressed cautious optimism about the return of cobalt mining.”

Other stories in the series have so far reported from California’s coast, Turkey’s Sea of Marmara, and America’s heartland to examine the way climate change is affecting our lives—now, not in the distant future.

  • Floating Wind Farms Are About to Transform the Oceans,” by Judith Lewis Mernit, reports on the effects of floating wind generation on the ocean ecosystem. Mernit examines the development of the technology and how “renewable-energy development too often comes at the expense of the very habitats we’re trying to preserve.”

  • Real Men Drive Electric Trucks,” by Ruxandra Guidi, addresses the need for U.S. drivers to embrace electric vehicles. With the introduction of electric pickup trucks, renewable-energy enthusiasts hope an American staple becomes more eco-friendly. The article also covers the challenge of making climate consciousness part of a culture that is still intensely and stereotypically macho.

  • Climate Change Is Going to Be Gross,” by Jenna Scatena, focuses on the thick layer of mucilage––or sea snot––that recently covered the Sea of Marmara for weeks, the result of an ailing ecosystem. The mucilage was temporarily disastrous for Turkey’s local fishing and tourism industries. Scatena writes: “As long as humans continue polluting and heating the sea, marine ecosystems will become more delicate and less predictable. Each outbreak shows us the consequences of our own actions—if we choose to see them.”  

This series of global reports is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education, the leading private nonprofit supporter of science education in the United States. In the past, HHMI supported The Atlantic reporting through “Life Up Close,” which explored how life is adapting to our changing planet.

The Atlantic’s Planet was launched in October 2020 as a section devoted to covering climate change, founded on the view that the shifting climate will be the backdrop of our lives and one of the major moral questions of the century. Reporting for the section is anchored by staff writer Robinson Meyer, who also authors the Weekly Planet newsletter, which brings readers the biggest ideas and most vital information for navigating a changing planet.