Journal of Writing & Environment

Web Rove: Writing About Climate Change

by Kristen Daily

Earth Day just passed—Wednesday, April 22. As one of the largest civic holidays around the globe Earth Day is day to celebrate our planet and to rekindle public commitment and activism to saving the earth. Today’s web rove honors several voices seeking to save the places, plants, and animals they love.

Carbon Capture” by Jonthan Franzen (from The New Yorker)

In this essay Franzen explores how climate change has made it harder for people to care about conservation. In the following passage he examines his own struggle in grappling with climate change: “But when I started watching birds, and worrying about their welfare, I became attracted to a countervailing strain of Christianity, inspired by St. Francis of Assisi’s example of loving what’s concrete and vulnerable and right in front of us. I gave my support to the focused work of the American Bird Conservancy and local Audubon societies. Even the most ominously degraded landscape could make me happy if it had birds in it. And so I became to feel miserably conflicted about climate change. I accepted its supremacy as the environmental issue of our time, but I felt bullied by its dominance.”

While Our Backs Are Turned” by Clarisse Hart (from Ecotone)

In this essay Hart writes about her home, Petersham, Massachussetts, which is home to old hemlock forests. As a science communicator, Hart recounts her experience her experiences giving tours in the Harvard Forest, but her essay is an elegy for the disappearing trees. In this passage she describes what it is like to walk into a hemlock grove: “Even if you don’t spend much time with trees, even with your eyes closed, you’re aware when you enter a hemlock forest that you’ve arrived somewhere new. It’s ten degrees cooler than surrounding forests, for one thing, because of the dense shade: only 1 percent of the sun above an intact hemlock canopy reaches the ground at your feet.”

section b, page 6” by Meryl Stratford (from Rattle)

In this poem Stratford responds to the story “Horseshoe crab faces threats from pollution, development” as a part of Rattle’s online series Poets Respond in which poets address current events. “section b, page 6” asks readers to consider the effects of human desire and consumption on the life of the horseshoe crab. The horseshoe crab was here long before we were, and Stratford calls readers to consider their lives, which have been happening across deep time. “Now they’re making the news: / how we use them as bait, grind them up / for fertilizer, destroy their habitat / but their ancient blood detects endotoxins, / makes possible our flu shots, /pacemakers, and hip replacements.”