SHOP NEW MERCH SHOP NEW MERCH
April 09, 2021
With Friends Like These
If It’s Not Fixed, Don’t Break It (with Elizabeth Kolbert)

In This Episode

 

 

Transcript

 

Ana Marie Cox: Hi, I’m Ana Marie Cox. Welcome to With Friends Like These. I feel like I should put a content warning on this episode for “extremely gloomy.” It’s about climate change, and climate change solutions, or rather some things that seem like solutions. Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer at The New Yorker, went out and investigated what would happen if some of these solutions were implemented. And it turns out these solutions create more problems. Elizabeth is here to talk about her book “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.” And she is coming right up.

 

Ana Marie Cox: Elizabeth, welcome to the show. I will lay out sort of for listeners who may not be familiar with your work, it’s about climate change. And this book in particular is a kind of meta exploration in some ways of climate change. It’s about trying to fix what we have done, and whether or not the fixes cause more harm. I would say that’s at least one enormous theme, and it is also about that waiting for rescue. Like, what are we going to do?

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Yes, exactly, exactly. And thinking that rescue will come in one—holding onto these sort of talismanic or tokens of our rescue that are not necessarily how rescue will come—if rescue does come, I might add.

 

Ana Marie Cox: So let’s go through some of these examples that I think will make it more clear, kind of the general theme here. There are instances where humans go back and try to fix what humans have done. And you raise questions about whether or not these are these are good ideas, whether or not they’ll work. What’s your favorite example of this?

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: At the center of the book is a chapter on gene editing, which is a tremendous topic, and has become tremendously easier over the last decade or so owing to the advent of CRISPR. And at the center of that chapter is a toad—an imported toad, a cane toad—which was released in Australia maybe 80 years ago or so and has wreaked havoc, been wreaking havoc ever since. So that’s one of the kind of tools that I think, or potential instruments of rescue—how’s that?—that people, I think would find, there’s a certain creepiness factor there. But it was actually great, great fun to meet these toads. And so that was a lovely adventure. I even did, I ordered a kit just to see how easy it really is to genetically modify an organism in your spare time, and this kit—which came from a company in California, which is always, I think, skirting the edge of what’s legal—sent me a strain of E. coli, which can be very dangerous pathogen, but this was, ostensibly at least, a non-pathogenic strain, and allowed me to gene edit it so that it was antibiotic resistant. And I believe that I successfully did that.

 

Ana Marie Cox: And to describe the arc of most these stories, it has to do with, many times it’s an invasive species that was introduced to solve a problem of some kind, a genuine problem, and then the invasive species, of course, wreck its own havoc upon the environment. And one of the examples you use, I think, will be resonant for a lot of people because it has to do with the influence of Silent Spring.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Yeah, that’s a—sure that’s a kind of a very weird irony, and I was not aware of it until I embarked on this book project, but Silent Spring was published in 1962, and it had a tremendous influence in a way that is hard to imagine even a book having that much influence these days. And Rachel Carson was called in front of Congressional committees and became a celebrity—something that she was really not, did not want, she was a pretty shy person—but anyway, what Rachel Carson was pointing to in Silent Spring was this way in which you were sort of indiscriminately dousing the world with pesticides, very serious poisons, which we’re having toxic effects up and down the food chain. The reason that, you know, for example, bald eagle populations crashed owing to DDT, and so we weren’t just targeting pest species, we were getting a lot of other bycatch, as it were. And the book ends with a chapter on: well, what should we should do instead? And what she really advocates in that chapter is what’s become known as biocontrol. So you use one species as a predator or a parasite of a species that you’re trying to eliminate or reduce. And it sounds good in theory, and to be frank, we use it a lot. A lot, a lot. But it can also go terribly wrong. And so in this particular case, the US government actually imported these various species of carp from Asia that were supposed to do various jobs that we didn’t want to have to do with herbicides. So, for example, eat aquatic weeds. One species was imported to eat aquatic weeds. One species was imported just to sort of clean up waterways that were filled with sewage, improperly-treated or incompletely-treated sewage—they all got, all of these species got loose, wrecked various different kinds of habits, depending on their own eating habits, but collectively, they’ve become, they’ve just basically taken over. They were introduced mainly in the southeast, and they’ve, but they worked their way from various tributaries of the Mississippi, into the Mississippi, up the Mississippi, and into new tributaries of the Mississippi. I mean, and this continues. The saga continues. The fish are still on the move. And in the southeastern US, we actually have a very diverse mollusk fauna, and very endangered mollusk fauna. It was already endangered before we introduced these carp. And now you have this mollusk-eating fish being let loose on these very threatened populations of mollusks. So that’s another reason why they’re not so good to have around.

 

Ana Marie Cox: And one of the the dark humor, one of the places of dark humor in the book is that these carp have been successfully demonized. Right? People hate these carp. And there’s the movement to try and get people to eat them.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: You know, the example is given of Paul Pruhomme, the chef from New Orleans, created this dish that used snapper, I guess, was a red, was a red snapper, and, you know, the fish were just fished into oblivion. And so here the idea is, well, here’s a fish we would like to fish into oblivion—could we create sort of a killer dish, as it were, that would get everyone in America eating Asian carp and then it could at least successfully reduce their numbers. Because right now, interestingly—once again, just one of these weird quirks of history, I guess—Asian carp, all of these species are prized as food species. In Asia they’re actually grown in aquaculture in enormous numbers, but they’re very bony, and Americans don’t like to eat bony fish.

 

Ana Marie Cox: And the, this is when I knew what the book was going to be about, is when you go to the carp festival, and there’s all these different like: you can eat carp this way, you can eat carp that way. You know, people like doing these dishes. And there is one chef whose solution on the surface seems pretty good. He’s invented a tasty dish that, who knows, is maybe the killer dish, like the killer app for Asian carp. But in order to make this dish, he flies the carp to, where is it, China?

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Yes, the fish are fished in Louisiana and then they are shipped back to Asia, which is another irony—the ironies are piling up here pretty quickly—to be processed because labor costs in the US are so high. And then they’re shipped back to the US, frozen in finished form as these sort of carp cakes, I guess, which are quite tasty. I do want to say, I really recommend them. Yes and he would like to get them processed here in the US, and maybe one day someone will succeed at that. But as I said, the labor cost problem is what prevents that from happening

 

Ana Marie Cox: An this sort of starts the book and then you kind of get into progressively more intricate problems and solutions where sometimes the solutions seem obvious, sometimes they don’t, but in every case, it is humankind attempting to address a problem that they caused. So I asked you if you had a favorite intervention. I have a favorite intervention. So the last section of the book is about the solar geo engineering, which is the most—OK, I thought gene editing was scary [laughs]— solar geo engineering: I had no idea I should be so afraid. There are enormous consequences to that. Right? And on the mild form, it’s like cloud seeding and stuff, but it’s messing with the atmosphere in order to do something about global warming.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: We are an extraordinary species that would be able to transform the atmosphere—basically in one or two generations, we’ve really dramatically altered the atmosphere, dramatically altered the climate—and that could conceive of the way out of this being to alter the atmosphere again to counteract the way we altered the atmosphere to begin with. And as you say, all of these stories build on that theme, until we finally get to what seems like to us to be the ultimate intervention to solve another intervention. But it may not be. We may, there may be even bigger ones on the horizon that people haven’t even thought of yet. So stay tuned.

 

Ana Marie Cox: And one of the themes, another theme in the book is actually that these scientists that you profile are trying— I wouldn’t say they’re trying to be heroes—but they are, the earnestness and seriousness with which they pursue these ideas, some of which are, or come from trying to trying to come up with a wilder solution you can, right, is really compelling. And I want to know what you found profiling these scientists who are trying so hard to make to, to do the right thing, to fix it.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Yeah, I mean, everyone I interviewed to a person, I think really was very committed to the project at hand, and saw it as contributing to a solution or a potential solution was working on that in good faith, was not motivated by a lot of—sometimes, especially when we’re dealing with topics like gene editing or geo-engineering, there’s a kind of a doctor Frankenstein component. Now, I should say that Dr. Frankenstein is a perfectly reasonable person in Frankenstein, he just kind of loses control of things

 

Ana Marie Cox: And Frankenstein exists because of climate change.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Well, yes, that’s an interesting [aside]. Absolutely. So Frankenstein was written in this extraordinary summer. So to understand the weird connection here, the idea behind geo-engineering really comes from volcanoes, which spew a lot of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, major volcanoes, and that has a temporary cooling effect, as these, what are called aerosols are like these tiny little droplets that reflect a lot of sunlight, they drift around for a couple of years, they produce these beautiful sunsets, and then they fall to earth after a couple of years. So this cooling effect is temporary but can be very significant. And in 1815, there was really, I think, sort of the biggest volcanic eruption in recorded history of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, and that had such a dramatic effect that it was called the Year Without a Summer. The temperatures in Europe and in North America were kind of crazily chilly. And that summer, Mary Shelley and her husband and her friends famously went to Switzerland and it was so rainy and so bleak that they decided to have a contest, stay home, they were inside all the time—they decided to have contest to write kind of a Gothic tale. And Frankenstein was the result of that. But just to finish that thought, that that these people, you know, well we might all say: well, should we be doing that, shouldn’t we be doing that? I do want to speak up on behalf of all the scientists that I interviewed who were genuinely, I think, trying to find solutions to very, very knotty problems.

 

Ana Marie Cox: It is enough to try to do something right? But the environment is particularly unforgiving.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Yes, exactly, exactly. And I quote a British environmentalist, activist, writer, Paul Kingsnorth whose work I find really interesting. At one point he says, you know, I don’t think I’ll get the quote exactly right, but it’s basically: sometimes doing something is better than doing nothing, and sometimes it’s the reverse. And the real difficulty in a lot of the situations that we’ve created—and here I am talking ecologically, but also have tremendous human, potential human impacts, is it’s hard to know which is which.

 

Ana Marie Cox: And there’s some interesting suggestions about how to shift our frame for the environment in your book. A really important one, is this idea that there is no ‘nature’ as we kind of think of it, perhaps as we grew up with it, or we talk about it in a casual way. That this idea, that nature is something else besides us, is definitely no longer the case.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Well, I don’t think that we want to say that nature doesn’t exist, but the idea of nature as an independent realm from humanity is increasingly a threatened idea, I guess. And Bill McKibben wrote “The End of Nature” all the way back in 1989, and many people would go farther back than that to identify this moment at which humans and nature became sort of inextricably intertwined. But now there’s nowhere that you can go on Earth where you can’t find human traces, and by this I don’t just mean litter people left by the side of the road, although that is doubtless increasingly also true, but there are places where you can go where there’s really no litter and no obvious signs of human settlement but the atmosphere has been changed. The climate has been changed. You can go to the deepest trenches of the ocean and find the same traces. You can go to the middle of the Antarctic ice sheet. So we are already, we’re having such a profound influence on planet Earth that it’s very hard at this point, and becoming increasingly hard to say where human influence leaves off and nature begins. Now, this doesn’t mean that we are in control of this situation. I mean, I think climate change is a very good example of that. We are influencing the climate. We are determining sort of its trajectory, but we’re not in control of it.

 

Ana Marie Cox: And I think one reason why I really appreciated that description of that shift in frame and I found it helpful in reading the rest of the book, is that there is not a natural state to go back to anymore. That when we talk about healing the Earth, or we talk about fixing the climate, or whatever, the kinds of language I think that a lot of people use to describe ambitions for climate change, aren’t the right ones.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: This notion that there is something we could go back to and I do think that that is an increasingly kind of a romantic notion and not really dealing with the reality of the situation. And climate change brings that home pretty vividly, I’m afraid, which is once you change the climate, which we have, and which we continue to do it, you can’t roll that one back. And that’s why we get to geo-engineering engineering, to be honest, because once you dump a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere as we have, as we continue to do every day, that stays up in the atmosphere for a long time—for all intents and purposes, forever. And it will continue to warm the planet for a long time. So you can’t just reverse that. There’s a lot of talk about reversing climate change—if you really want to reverse climate change in the sense of have cooler temperatures again, then you are forced to resort to something like geo-engineering.

 

Ana Marie Cox: Coming right back to continue our talk with Elizabeth Kolbert in just a minute.

 

[ad break].

 

Ana Marie Cox: Let’s talk a little bit more about geoengineering because it is the climax of the book. It is sort of where you get to. You start very small, start with the little fishies—actually the carp, I guess, or the people—the carp are who you start with, but you get progressively larger, and sort of your view. And this final view of the book is from space, sort of. And these are people who are have enormous ideas because they see the enormous problem. And they’re the people I thought about the most when I was thinking about the earnestness and sincere desire, you know, to push, push, push the science into realms that seem uncomfortable because this problem is so bad. So do you want to talk about some of the solutions that they offer? Solutions is not really even the right word. I think I’ve fallen back into using the wrong metaphors because I don’t think you can look at a response to climate change as a solution. It’s simply a response.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Right, well, there is this notion, you know, can we, if you wanted to, you know actually try to quote unquote “fix the climate,” you know one of the ideas out there is, well, can you take CO2 that we’ve put up in the air and can you take it out of the air? Now, that one is really key. Unfortunately, it turns out to be quite key because the idea that we’re going to take CO2 out of the air is already built into a lot of these projections and scenarios that are used by the groups looking at how can we keep average global temperatures from rising more than two degrees C, which has been adopted—for reasons that we can talk about or ignore for now—as this threshold over which you do not want to go. And I think it’s important to realize that in most of those scenarios that do not involve immediately shutting off our fossil fuel infrastructure, which is extremely difficult to do, there’s this idea: well, we will continue to use fossil fuels for a while, we’ll ramp it down and eventually we will have to get to zero for this to work, but then we’ll be able to, you know—we’ll be in this situation is called overshoot, we’ll have too much CO2 up there, we will have to get some of it back out. And people have come up with all sorts of ideas, once again, that sound comical, sort of, but maybe we will be pursuing some of them for how you might do this. So, for example, trees take up CO2 as they grow, but unfortunately when they rot, they give that CO2 up. So one idea that I write about is well you grow trees, you cut them down, you bury them in these huge trenches so that they don’t rot. Alternatively, you could chuck them in the ocean, where also the cold temperatures would presumably prevent them from rotting. So there are all sorts of I mean, the list goes on and on, of ways that you could, once again, in theory, try to suck CO2 out of the air. They all bring with them their own complexities, to say the least.

 

Ana Marie Cox: And the main complexity has to do with what carbon you generate in trying to get the carbon out, at least for things like the tree disposal idea.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: That’s one big problem. Exactly. If you’re getting your energy, if you’re still getting energy from fossil fuels, then you’re adding to the problem that you want to eliminate. But in theory, a lot of these are sort of, well, one day we’re going to have so much energy from other sources, whatever these carbon-free sources are going to be, that we will be able to use some of that energy to go back and rectify, try to clean up the mess we already made. But, you know, even if that were true, there are still other hurdles, one of which is simply a land use hurdle, for the tree idea, let’s say, you know we’re talking about a lot of trees. I think the idea is an area, something the size of the US planted with these trees that are supposed to do nothing but soak up carbon. But there’s a reason why a lot of the world we’re actually cutting down forests, not planting them, unfortunately, and that reason is we’re putting more land into agricultural production. There are reasons why people are doing this. So it’s hard to see exactly where we’re going to get enough land to put it, set it aside for these projects.

 

Ana Marie Cox: And if you don’t mind, maybe we should explore some of the more science fiction-y aspects. I mentioned the diamond dust, which sounds very much to me like someone like, a Neil Stephenson novel. But would you like to explain how that works?

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Yes. The diamond dust is part of this sort of suite of ideas that all go under the title of solar geo-engineering. And that gets back to Mount Tambora and the Year Without a Summer, volcanic eruptions pour a lot of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, cooled the earth by reflecting sunlight back to space—could we do that? Could we mimic volcanoes in some way? So put something into the stratosphere purposefully on specially equipped planes, that would have the same effect, create some kind of reflective haze, and different substances could potentially do that, one of which would be diamond dust.

 

Ana Marie Cox: But what could go wrong,? Which, by the way, I kept on thinking to myself, why is that phrase not appearing more in this book? I think you use it exactly once.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: One of the biggest fears is that a climate that has been, or an atmosphere that’s been loaded up with carbon and you’re getting a changing climate, you might be able to counteract that in an average, on average, right? So you could get average global temperatures, you could bring them back to—or stabilize them, let’s put it that way—with this reflective haze, but would you really be getting the same weather patterns that you have now? Now, climate change is changing weather patterns. So it’s not, you can’t immediately say: well, we need to keep the weather patterns we have now. We’re not keeping the weather patterns we have now. That’s sort of part of gets back to a little bit what we were talking about before, about we’re not going back. So you have to weigh the dangers of these double forms of manipulation against the dangers of just climate change by itself. So you have to start from the right base here. But that’s a serious, serious worry. And then that brings us to questions of who controls this technology. It has global impacts. Who gets to decide? I mean, you can pretty quickly—your head starts to spin with all of the potential geopolitical problems that arise.

 

Ana Marie Cox: The situation is desperate. Like we are in a very tough place as a species.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: There are no easy answers to these things and people might want to reach for, on the one hand: well, let’s just, you know, let’s just stop doing what we’re doing and go back, as we’ve discussed. And that’s not really a viable answer at this point, unfortunately. And there’s this sort of techno optimists: oh, we always think of a way out of these situations. And some people do feel that that’s true. I’m not one of those. I don’t think just because we’ve had, we are all still here, .There are more people on the planet than ever before, but when you think about it, you could say: well, that means that humans always find a way out of things. Or you could say that means we’re in an unprecedented situation. There are more of us than ever before. So you can look at it both ways.

 

Ana Marie Cox: Stick with us. More climate change talk with Elizabeth Colbert coming right up.

 

[ad break]

 

Ana Marie Cox: Yes, I did kind of want to bring it, to bring the discussion into today, into where we are right now. And I am curious about you personally, because you write about climate change a lot. You know all of this stuff. I was saying before, I wouldn’t expect sort of a normal human to be thinking constantly about the danger we’re in because that would just be very traumatic. But you are thinking a lot about the danger we’re in, and that seems like it would have a cost.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Yeah, no, I don’t, it’s not something that I recommend for your mental health. How’s that? But, I mean, I guess I have the advantage to a certain extent, it is a, you know, it’s not my avocation, it is really my vocation in a way. It’s like if you’re a trauma surgeon or whatever, people could say, well, how do you deal with all those bodies coming in with gunshot wounds and burns? I never posed this question directly to a E.R. doctor, but I think that part of it is: well I deal with it, that’s my job, is to try to patch people up as best I can. You know, I also sort of take that attitude, my job is to explain to people as best I can what’s happening here. I don’t, I’m not solving these problems individually. I don’t even claim to have the solutions to these problems. But I have sort of, do feel that when I convey, successfully convey some of these problems, hopefully it will have some impact on the public discourse. That’s really the best I can hope for.

 

Ana Marie Cox: We are sometimes sort of sold the idea that if you do X, Y, Z, you will be part of the solution. Recycle. Buy carbon offsets. Often sometimes it’s a market solution of some kind. Literally, you’re being sold that. And unfortunately, as you say, the solutions have to be at such a scale that we have to think in political terms, I think, social movement terms. Again, at a scale that I don’t think most Americans at least, think.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: No, absolutely. I mean, this is going to require any major transformation of our, you know, of how we get our energy, how we use our energy, you know is not going to come from everybody putting solar panels up. Though, everybody putting solar panels up is a good thing to do.

 

Ana Marie Cox: We probably should make also that clear. It’s not that you shouldn’t do those thing.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: No, absolutely. Everyone should do those things. And that would make, literally if everyone did it, and I understand there are lots of cost barriers, etc.—but anything that you can think of as an individual which if universalized, would actually make a difference, is worth doing. That being said, as you point out, you know, we simply can’t rely on the good will and open pocketbooks of Americans. And we need, really—these are also have huge technical—I shouldn’t say, technological—we need a different grid. You know, parts of the country it’s even getting hard to put up solar because the whole grid needs to be transformed. So we need massive policy changes. Now, the good news, and I’m rarely one to offer good news is, you know, the Biden administration has a lot of really smart people who—in key positions,\—who completely understand this, know the stuff way better than you and I. And so that’s the good news. The question of how much they will be able to accomplish in this insane political environment that we have right now: that’s an open question. We’re going to, we’re going to find that out.

 

Ana Marie Cox: Staying in the here and now, this book was interrupted by the pandemic, and you write just a little bit about the interaction of the pandemic and climate change. So you’ve had a few months since that went to the publisher, and I wonder if you could say any more about that.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Well, I mean, the pandemic has raised all sorts of, you know, interesting questions, and reduced our CO2 emissions significantly—though, they’re already popping back up—but I think that the pandemic turned out to really play out in this kind of, it was kind of eerie and creepy, once again, how much it followed sort of the pattern that I was writing about. Which is, you know, it was a sort of coupled human and natural event that caused this pandemic. It was some virus that jumped species—we’re not sure how or what species yet—but that’s pretty clearly the origins of the pandemic. And people had been predicting that forever because of the way that we deal with animals, the way we go into the forest and bring out animals that have potentially deadly pathogens. Or also the way that we treat our domestic animals: huge concentration of animals living in very close proximity to people, who are just a reservoir for potential zoonotic diseases. So you can go back and lots of books I could recommend that just predicted exactly what was going to happen. And then when you do get one of these spillover events that where a species, virus jumps species, because of the way we live once again, because we’re so globalized, travel so much and we travel so far—it’s everywhere immediately. So this disease was a Wuhan, and then within a couple weeks, months, it was in some of the most remote parts of the world. It was on the Kamchatka Peninsula, it was in the Falkland Islands. And even at that point where we had let it get just completely globalized, we could have through social control, social measures, brought it back under control. We didn’t do that, we just let it get completely out of control, and kill millions of people. And now we’re all waiting around for the techno fix, which is this vaccine that hopefully—I certainly hope to get one—and we hope it’s going to save us from this calamity that we had a big part in spreading around the world. But we’re also discovering that we don’t control this one. And even the techno fix, even the vaccines—which are amazing feats of biotech, really sophisticated cutting-edge vaccines—now there’s the question of, well, are there going to be these variants that are going to elude the vaccine? And that seems sort of more and more likely. We’re just getting all sorts of variants out there. And so we’re going to have to, quite possibly going to be perpetually dealing with this new disease. Either in the form of booster shots or whatever.

 

Ana Marie Cox: Um, one of the anecdotes you share in the book is that a scientist asked you: are you, do you ever feel pressure to have happy endings? Because I feel pressure to have happy endings. You don’t answer that in the book? I feel like the answer is implied. I feel it right now, I want to pressure you to give a happy ending.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: OK, well, I’ll give you a happy ending. That quote, which was one of the last bits of reporting I did, literally, I was at Harvard—that quote comes from a scientist named Dan Schrag at Harvard—and I was at Harvard. COVID was just about to shut down the campus, and when Dan said that, I was like: I so agree with you. I so feel the same way. And he said: I’m a scientist, a lot of people want a happy ending, that’s not my job, I don’t do happy endings, basically, my job is to tell you what’s happening. And that is not a happy ending, here. But I guess that’s an excuse for why we’re not going to have a happy ending. I don’t feel like it’s my job to give people happy endings. If I had a happy ending, I would share it out. I would, I not like opposed to happy endings. I like a good happy ending as much as the next gal. But I don’t, I don’t really have one. I don’t think we know how this story is going to end. And imposing a happy ending on it is something that we as Americans really like, and that is really, as I say once again at the heart of this book: the truth is we just don’t know how this one’s ending.

 

Ana Marie Cox: This has been a delightful conversation about an incredibly depressing subject. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

 

Elizabeth Kolbert: Oh, thanks for having me. It was really a lot of fun.

 

Ana Marie Cox: And that’s it for the show. This is a production of Crooked Media. The show is produced by Allison Herera with assistance from Izzy Margulies, and this episode was engineered by Louie Alino. Whitney Pastorek should not have as many opportunities as she does to do volunteer relief work. And in closing, I don’t want to ruin Elizabeth’s sober ending. I won’t force happiness on you. What I can do is remind you that the bigger the problem, the more reason we can’t give up, no matter how insurmountable the problem seems. And that applies to climate change, to dismantling white supremacy, and sometimes, to getting out of bed in the morning. I sometimes have trouble believing that I can do these things. But I believe in you, and that means I have to believe in us. Take care of yourselves.

 

With Friends Like These