Earlier this month (August 1), a special edition of The New York Times Magazine went online, and a few days later hit the newsstands. The issue contained a single 30,000 word article titled, “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.” Penned by NYTMagazine writer-at-large Nathaniel Rich, with grant support from the non-profit Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, and based on 18 months of reporting and over a hundred interviews, it tells the story (along with a gallery of stunning photos and online videos by George Steinmetz) of the decade between 1979-1989 when an international scientific and political consensus first emerged on the causes and dangers of climate change.
In his detailed narrative history, Rich describes how those hopeful efforts nevertheless failed to develop an effective national and international response to what was known to be an impending global catastrophe.
Today, guest host Rob Sivak looks at why so many opportunities to put the brakes on climate change were missed back in the 1980s, why climate policy remains a political football thirty years -- and another half-trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions -- later. And he considers the looming question: what are the prospects that humankind will ever find a way to meet this existential challenge?
Rob puts those questions to “Losing Earth” author Nathaniel Rich. In addition to being writer-at-large with the New York Times Magazine, Rich is author of three novels -- King Zeno (2018), Odds Against Tomorrow (2013), and The Mayor’s Tongue (2008) -- and a contributor of fiction and non-fiction work to many literary and opinion magazines.
Rich joins us on the line from the studios of NPR affiliate WWNO in New Orleans.