Collection

26 Pieces for COP26: Fire

For the duration of the conference, in place of our Paper Cuts newsletter (though just as timely), we’ll be sharing writing about waterearth, air and fire from the LRB archive. Naomi Klein’s piece here will be kept in front of the paywall, as will a piece from each of the other collections.

Burning Up the World: ExxonMobil

Luke Mitchell, 8 November 2012

Forecasters in ExxonMobil’s strategic planning department predicted in 2005 that the only thing that would prevent growing demand for oil (and, not incidentally, growing profits for ExxonMobil) would be an unprecedented global carbon tax, and for that to happen, in Steve Coll’s summary of their findings, ‘the world’s governments would have to reach a unified conclusion that climate change presented an emergency on the scale of the Second World War – a threat so profound and disruptive as to require massive national investments and taxes designed to change the global energy mix.’ The forecasters assumed this would not happen. 

Let Them Drown

Naomi Klein, 2 June 2016

Environmentalism might have looked like a bourgeois playground to Edward Said. The Israeli state has long coated its nation-building project in a green veneer – it was a key part of the Zionist ‘back to the land’ pioneer ethos. And in this context trees, specifically, have been among the most potent weapons of land grabbing and occupation. 

Diary: The golf course is burning

Karl Whitney, 2 June 2016

With underground fires, cause and effect are split in an unnerving manner: you know that your garden (let’s say) is on fire, but you don’t know how long the ground beneath it has been burning, or who or what sparked the blaze.

El Diablo in Wine Country

Mike Davis, 2 November 2017

Much as I would like for once to be a bearer of good news rather than an elderly prophet of doom, Carveacre demonstrates the hopelessness of rational planning in a society based on real-estate capitalism. Unnecessarily, our children, and theirs, will continue to face the flames.

Smoked Out: Travels in the Apocalypse

McKenzie Funk, 7 February 2019

Disasters like the conflagration that consumed Paradise, California, in November, killing 81 people – the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history – do happen. But the climate disaster facing millions of other residents of the American West is more insidious.

All the News Is Bad: Our Alien Planet

Francis Gooding, 1 August 2019

‘We have already exited the state of environmental conditions that allowed the human animal to evolve in the first place,’ David Wallace-Wells writes, ‘in an unsure and unplanned bet on just what that animal can endure. The climate system that raised us, and raised everything we now know as human civilisation, is now, like a parent, dead.’

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