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Global Warnings: Writing on Climate and the Environment

October and November 2020

Man fishing for crab in the mangrove in Belmonte, Bahia, Brazil

Eliseu Cavalcante, Photo from series “Being Mangrove/Ser Manguezal,” 2019–2020.


As extremes of weather become the norm and the earth continues its relentless warming, we present international writing on climate change and the environment. Iceland’s Andri Saer Magnason offers a moving eulogy for his country’s vanishing glaciers. Ariadna Castellarnau follows a man with the gift of water and his sullen daughter as they try to rescue a village from drought. Climate writer Amy Brady considers how literature can prompt action. Duanwad Pimwana reveals one possible result of cavalier attitudes toward accumulation and disposal. And Francisco de la Mora’s graphic fiction depicts the Statue of Liberty and Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer mourning their mutual losses.

In the second part of our double issue, the protagonist is, by and large, the natural world in its many iterations; all of the writing here sounds the warning of the human cost of environmental destruction. Photographer Eliseu Cavalcante takes us to the mangrove forests of Bahia, Brazil; Ondjaki, translated by Stephen Henighan, gives us a farcical view of urban catastrophe provoked by human folly; Isabel Zapata, translated by Robin Myers, depicts the intertwined destinies of a mother orca, her dead calf, and the pilot of an empty plane that is rapidly losing fuel and altitude; Yu Jian, translated here by Xin Xu, composes an elegy to a majestic elephant as it marches across Asia to its death; and Markéta Pilátová, translated by Sára Foitová, traces the reverberations of the December 2004 tsunami in Indonesia back to the Czech Republic.

Climates: On Environment
By Susan Harris
Global warming manifests in obvious ways.
The Water Man
By Ariadna Castellarnau
“Get it through your head: God and me, we’re the same person.”
Translated from Spanish by Adrian Nathan West
Farewell to the White Giants
By Andri Snær Magnason
Chaos is not confined to the glacier’s edge.
Translated from Icelandic by Lytton Smith
All Trash on the Eastern Side
By Duanwad Pimwana
What use is it for us humans to cling to our freedom in the midst of all this trash?
Translated from Thai by Mui Poopoksakul
Climate Fiction for Climate Action
By Amy Brady
No single means of communication can be solely effective, because climate change is such a “wicked” problem—it is truly planetary in scale.
Liberty and Hope
By Francisco de la Mora
So this is how it all ends . . .
Translated from Spanish by Nina Perrotta
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