Douglas Imbrogno is a journalist, a songwriter, a folk singer and a climate activist of the newsletter kind. Based in West Virginia, he recently launched a free weekly ”climate news” newsletter with about 10 items per edition, ranging from the serious to the humorous and everything in between.
I met him on Twitter where I first saw his newsletter link and decided to to follow his work. The newsletter, which is just getting off the ground and has two editions already under its belt, is must-reading for anyone interested in climate change issues. Titled ”Changing Climate Times,” this is one of the best general-interest climate newsletters published anywhere in the world. It’s that good! And it’s free!
The recent edition of the newsletter started off with an item about the popular climate change guru Katherine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. Imbrogno noted that the UK Guardian newspaper had recently published a good interview with Dr. Hayhoe, who, the newsletter editor confessed won ”my undying affection when she took a break from baking pumpkin pies Thanksgiving weekend to respond to the Trump administration’s attempt to deep six the National Climate Assessment, which she had a hand in producing (a hand I keep thinking of as being covered in flour).
He then posted the link to the Guardian interview with Dr Hayhoe.
He also posted a pass-it-forward quote from her: “Fear is a short-term spur to action, but to make changes over the long term, we must have hope.”
And this: ”The most important thing is to accelerate the realisation that we have to act. This means connecting the dots to show that the impacts are not distant any more: they are here and they affect our lives. It also means talking about solutions. The technology and knowledge are there. The economics already make sense. In Texas, where I live, the biggest military base, Fort Hood, switched last year to renewables because they were cheaper than natural gas. And finally, it means weaning ourselves off fossil fuels, which is challenged by the fact that the majority of the world’s richest companies have made their money from the fossil fuel economy — so the majority of the wealth and power remains in their hands.”
Another item in the newsletter discussed the 2018-released National Climate Assessment, representing decades of work from more than 300 authors, which, IMbrogno noted, “is pretty blunt.’ It’s also very long, so the breezy, easy-to-read newsletter linked 11/23.2018 summary on The Atlantic website to give his readers a good overview that makes a significant point: “The assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid.”
”For centuries, humans have lived near the ocean, assuming that the sea will not often move from its fixed location. They have planted wheat at its time, and corn at its time, assuming that the harvest will not often falter. They have delighted in December snow, and looked forward to springtime blossoms, assuming that the seasons will not shift from their course. Now, the sea is lifting above its shore, the harvest is faltering, and the seasons arrive and depart in disorder,” the Atlantic lamented.
Since we first gathered around bonfires against the darkness and the watchful eyes of prey animals, we’ve told stories to explain the unexplainable, the worrisome and unknown, according to Imbrogno. Noting in the newsletter that anthropologist Susie Crate has spent years gathering climate change stories that indigenous cultures are now telling themselves, he wrote: “Crate and her daughter are featured in the 2015 documentary, ‘The Anthropologist,’ as it follows them to Kiribati, Siberia, Chesapeake Bay and the Peruvian Andes, to see how indigenous people cope with climate change.”
In his past life as a newspaperman, Doug interviewed Dr. Crate for a 10/07/2017 story in advance of a screening of the film. She talked to him about how Siberian elders have changed their tune about the Siberian winter, telling him:
”Elders in the region speak of changes in what has been known for ages as ‘the Bull of Winter.’ This is a way they explain this period of winter, when, for about three months, it gets too cold and dry to snow. It’s just this frozen stillness. They talk about ‘The Bull of Winter’ having arrived. Then, in early March, the frigid temperatures begin to lift a bit, “and one of the horns starts falling off and a few weeks later, they lift even more, and another horn falls off. A few weeks later, as spring comes, it starts to snow again. The bull’s head falls off, and spring is in full effect.”
”But many of the elders she speaks with these days talk about the Bull of Winter “not arriving anymore,” as temperatures warm. It’s starting to be they can no longer talk about the Bull of Winter as something that occurs every year,” Crate said.
The newsletter also discussed the rise of the Sunrise Movement (@sunrisemvmt on Twitter), and explained how they describe themselves: “We are building an army of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. This dark time in America must come to an end.”
Humor is also part of the newsletter’s mix, Imbrogno told me in a recent email.
“Climate change round-ups can get heavy, what with rising seas and melting Siberias. But remember: the wolves beyond the periphery of our Cro-Magnon campfires became today’s lovable, goofy dogs. If you need a pick-me-up at any time of day while contemplating climate change, follow ‘Thoughts or Dog’ on Twitter. If you’re not on Twitter, I heartily recommend you get an account just to follow “Thoughts of Dog.” With 2 million followers, it is one of Twitter’s most popular accounts. It’s by far one of the sweetest, dearest, most lovable thing on social media. Without being sickly sweet, the “human” who channels “Thoughts of Dog“ exquisitely captures the pure heart of lovable doggedness. We must save the planet, after all, not only for ourselves. But for our dogs — and cats, and gerbils and tarantulas, and guinea pigs and all our pets.”
The current edition of the newsletter also introduces some news about The Cli-Fi Report.
At the current time, ”Changing Climate Times” is free online and it’s in the ”Hey, pass on the word by word of mouth and grow the audience” stage. Feedback and suggested articles and links are welcome. To see what’s on offer, subscribe if you’re climate change-conscious and link to its companion website here.