Writers Respond - Climate Change

This month, PEN Center USA is focusing on the current administration's attempts to silence and defund scientists and federal agencies like the EPA. PEN Center USA believes that environmental safety is a fundamental human right, and we, as a first amendment organization must ensure that writers have a space to write freely. We asked writers who have constructed imagined worlds to speak to this issue. Fictional and nonfictional responses were welcome.

We begin with The Guardian’s environmental reporter, Oliver Milman, who gives us his views on what is at risk for scientists working today, and his prediction for the future of climate change as a result of the developing political landscape.

Oliver Milman
The Guardian Climate Change Reporter

The fear of being assailed by willfully misleading claims isn't a new one for scientists. Those in power, and scientific rivals, have long provided their own version of fake news. As Charles Darwin, father of the theory of evolution, lamented in 1871: “False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long.”

But scientists in the US today feel they are facing something quite new in modern history — a vindictive, proudly anti-science administration that openly celebrates anecdote and innuendo over evidence-based reality.


Ignoring the Lessons of the Dust Bowl
By Rae Meadows

In the early 20th century, a man named Charles Hatfield, who called himself “the moisture accelerator,” claimed he could make it rain by bombing the sky. He fleeced towns across the plains—where for years people believed the myth that “rain follows the plow”—and moved on. By the 1930s, when the Dust Bowl hit, rainmakers were at it again. The residents of Dalhart, Texas, paid Tex Thornton $500 to rocket the sky with dynamite and TNT. Surely they knew better?


Department of Deletion
By Charles Yu


Kristine Ong Muslim

Climate change is not an abstraction for me. It is not another red dot on a transparent overlay on a geologic world map, not another red dot indicating where the permafrost––the most disturbing of frozen grounds to thaw––is currently melting this time. It is also not a slow-boil hodgepodge of factors that conspire to drown or torch parts of the planet we have long been deluded enough to believe we were entitled to exploit and own. I live in the Philippines, where the projected sea level rise is between 7.6 and 10.2 cm per decade, even as the rest of the world gets a little bit of slack at 3.1 cm. We get to die first ahead of everyone else in the world. Most days, I don’t know if this is a bad thing or not.


Saad Z. Hossain

We took the Silk Route shuttle from Tibet, a long tube that was sometimes underground, sometimes slinging over rivers and mountains, the capsules moving so fast that you couldn't see anything; there were no windows anyways, just simulations. This was our special holiday, so my father and I were alone in our sleeper, with just a few assistants in the next cabin. There were faster, more expensive ways to travel, but my father called this a pilgrimage; he wanted the journey, a sense of going somewhere.

It was the cattle market we were going to, the greatest auction in the world, held every year in Abu Dhabi. My father had many businesses; he was too busy to travel. Rather, the whole world came to him in VR, and he spent days meeting with holographic people. But this thing was not business; this was Eid––one remnant of an old tradition he had followed in his youth––and every year we sacrificed bigger and bigger cows, cows the size of houses, but he was never happy, and this time he said he'd go himself, find the right animal.



More than Scientists: The People Behind Climate Science — http://morethanscientists.org/get-involved/
Union of Concerned Scientists — http://www.ucsusa.org/
350.org — https://350.org/
Path to Positive Los Angeles — http://pathtopositive.la/declaration/

Donate to an environmental protection foundation:
Environmental Defense Fund — https://www.edf.org/
National Resources Defense Council — https://www.nrdc.org/
Waterkeeper Alliance — http://waterkeeper.org/
Sierra Club — http://www.sierraclub.org/

Volunteering: Los Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club — http://angeles.sierraclub.org/volunteer
Angeles National Forest — https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/angeles/workingtogether/volunteering
TreePeople — https://www.treepeople.org/volunteer
Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy — http://pvplc.org/_volunteer/

March for Science - April 22, 2017

People's Climate March - April 29, 2017