The Year of Climate Culture

2023 is a year in which climate change feels inevitable. Whether it’s the raging fires in Canada, the orange skies of New York, the flash floods in Libya or the scorching heat in China, the effects of our overheating planet are too severe to ignore.

Not coincidentally, this was also a year in which climate change began to be felt in all popular cultures. Glossy TV shows, best-selling books, art exhibits and even pop music tackle the subject, often with the kind of nuance and creativity that helps us understand the world’s toughest issues.

Here are some highlights from the year of climate culture.

(And please share your own recommendations with us by filling out this short form. Your contributions may be featured in a future newsletter.)

The Flood by Stephen Markley
This inspiring and perplexing novel traces a cadre of radicalized scientists and activists from the gathering storms of the Obama years to the super-typhoons of the 2040s. Hamilton Cain, the Times book reviewer, wrote: The dystopia is realistic and nuanced, ugly but entertaining, which sets Markley’s book apart from the tsunami of recent climate change literature.

Time of Fire by John Valliant
In 2016, an inferno ravaged Fort McMurray, Canada, which created its own system during an unseasonably warm spring. Fire Weather reconstructs the disaster in horrifying detail, making a case that what seemed like a terrible fire at the time was just a sign of things to come.

The Heat Will Kill You First by Jeff Goodell
2023 will be the hottest year on record, and this book makes a compelling case for why even small changes in global average temperatures are poised to have devastating consequences, especially for the most vulnerable. .

Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton
This wry, smart and exciting novel is about a group of characters who make suboptimal choices and grapple with some unconventionally exciting topics. (In other words: guerrilla farming, land deals, the privatization of nature.) The Times, in its review, wrote that the whole thing was cracking.

Bushmeat by Theodore Trefon
This book from Trefon, a researcher steeped in Central African culture, examines deforestation, conservation, law enforcement and other topics tied to the bushmeat trade, a huge problem that through poaching and contamination diseases have effects far beyond the areas where they occur. Foreign Affairs called the book an excellent introduction to a difficult subject.

Paved Paradise by Henry Grabar
A groundbreaking new book about parking, according to a Times review, will help explain how America’s obsession with the car is destroying our social fabric and fueling change. in the climate.

This ambitious Apple TV+ series about a future altered by climate change was poorly received by critics. But even bad art makes you think, and months after bingeing on the series, it continues to haunt the mind. One episode in particular, about a nefarious geoengineering effort, strikes an unnerving balance between impractical and disturbingly believable.

How to Blow a Pipeline
A pointed, tense indie thriller inspired by a 2020 book that calls for industrial sabotage against fossil fuel infrastructure, this film takes the premise seriously and follows a group of young activists. on a dangerous journey to blow up an oil pipeline in Texas.

The Last of Us
OK, it’s a show based on a video game about zombies. But the world-eating fungus at the center of the story, we learn in the first episode, was only released because climate change is warming the planet. It’s hard not to watch the show without thinking about a world radically altered by rising temperatures and rising seas.

The Yanomami Struggle
Claudia Andujar, a 91-year-old photographer, has been documenting the Yanomami people of the Amazon for 50 years. He exhibited his life’s work, along with Yanomami pieces, at The Shed in New York.

This long-term exhibition at the Swiss Institute in New York’s East Village brings an acute awareness of the environment beyond the gallery doors.

When the Sky is Orange: Art in the Age of Climate Change
This show, at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, is curated by climate writer Jeff Goodell. It plans to consider a world where greenhouse gases turn the sky orange.

Climate Futurism
This exhibit, curated by ecology and climate policy expert Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, happened at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. It takes inspiration from Johnson’s upcoming book, What If We Get It Right?

Big Sugar
This investigative series chronicles the long and sordid history of Florida’s pipe industry, from Miami nightclubs to backroom meetings in Tallahassee. It also shines a light on the damaging environmental impact of the sugar business, revealing how America’s sweet tooth is poisoning our soil and water. Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

How Paradise Became a Place of Death
In The Daily, Ydriss Nouara, a resident of Lahaina, Hawaii, tells the terrible, heartbreaking story of how he escaped from the fire that swept through Maui in August.

Field trip
This Washington Post series on America’s national parks goes beyond postcards to reveal a precious natural landscape threatened by fires, floods, droughts and pollution.

Room With a View
La(Horde), a dance collective, wants to explore ideas about climate change, and is determined to show nuance. In Room, according to The Timess dance critic, Gia Kourlis, relationships can be blurred; there are states of submission and power, but as it evolves, the dynamic changes.

Jungle Book Reimagined
In a two-hour extrapolation of the climate crisis that debuted in New York in November, Mowgli is a female refugee who is separated from her family as sea levels rise. He was adopted by the animals who became a peaceful kingdom in the city abandoned by humans.

With help from Adam Pasick, Nadja Popovich, Delger Erdenesanaa, Raymond Zhong, Gia Kourlas and Dionne Searcey.

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