Welcome to the Atmosphere

Every Friday, Atmos editor-in-chief William Defebaugh reflects on the week in climate and culture, sharing stories of insight and inspiration.

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“I try to inhale the weight of the cataclysm that we are authoring. Embrace the discomfort. That is what I feel is being asked of us. If we are ever to wrestle this to the ground, it will require a massive shift in our ways of thinking.” So says ANOHNI, the critically acclaimed artist and activist, during our hours-long discourse on the future of our planet, and how we as humans fit into that future. This question was precisely the starting point for Atmos Volume 01: Neo-Natural—an exploration of how nature, and our role in it, continues to evolve. As a publication about climate and culture, what better place to start than attempting to understand where these two forces intersect? The use of the word “inhale” in ANOHNI’s statement is apt, because it speaks not just to oxygen as one of the essential components of life—but the fact that a deep one is required before tackling a subject as immense as this.

 

Speaking of, change is in the air this week. Copenhagen has declared its intentions to become entirely carbon neutral by 2025. According to city officials, this goal will be met by an increased investment in wind energy, public transportation, and more efficient trash disposal, all of which is already in motion. While Copenhagen is only home to 624,000 people, half of the world lives in cities, setting a much-needed example for others to follow. Thankfully, it’s a model that’s only becoming easier to replicate; as our friends at Fast Company have pointed out, wind and solar energy just keeps getting cheaper—so much so that the majority of U.S. based coal plants would save money by switching to one of these renewable energy sources. Yes, time appears to be running out for fossil fuels, a cornerstone of President Trump’s agenda. In fact, a federal judge recently ruled that the Interior Department had violated the law by failing to factor climate impact into its massive oil and gas leasing in the West. The result? The Trump administration might have to come clean on the full environmental impact of its plan to increase fossil fuel production in the United States.

 

In the cultural sphere, it appears that the sustainable fashion “trend” is here to stay: Fashion search engine Lyst has seen a 66% increase in searches related to eco-friendly clothing so far this year, as evidenced by 80 million shoppers in 120 countries around the world. On screen, Netflix has released the second chapter of The OA—a follow-up that (literally) expands the universe Brit Marling created in season one, and allows the theme of man versus nature to take center stage. Food-wise, co-founder of Blue Apron Matthew Wadiak launched Cooks Venture this week, a new company that intends to use regenerative agriculture to save our unsustainable food system—beginning with chickens—and prove that climate change can be slowed down by sequestering carbon into soil. As one of the leading contributors, the food industry will need an overhaul if we are to invite that massive shift ANOHNI was referring to—and reverse our current course before it’s too late.

 

Just remember: it starts with an inhale. Then an exhale.

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