While climate change may be complex and difficult terrain, rediscovering our industrial infrastructure is compelling.
The Rio+20 UN summit is just around the corner, the latest in a decades-long string of international meetings that attempt to address one of the world's greatest and most global environmental problems.
What's that? Your eyes have already glazed over? Well, you're not alone. I just spent the last couple of days in Seoul for the Global Green Growth Institute Summit, where I spoke during a session on green journalism. A common refrain from both the speakers and the audience was that that people were
tired of hearing the same jeremiads about greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, and government panels. Even people who care deeply about the environment are fatigued. This is a particularly acute problem on the
Internet where the distribution of a story largely depends on readers to share the narrative with their friends through social media. The standard climate change narratives are not shareable.
But to me the most interesting stories to tell about climate change have never been attempts to elucidate the worst-case scenarios. As an organizing narrative, what climate change offered me was a reason to rediscover and reimagine the world's basic infrastructure. Want to radically improve the efficiency of the transportation system? Well, first you have to understand how and why Americans built the system that we have. You have to ask: What problems were our forebears trying to solve?