If scientists have developed complex climate models that are often reduced to mere degree measurements for public consumption, then architects and designers routinely condense climate—adaptation proposals to sea walls and parks. Journalist Jake Bittle has written a rejoinder of sorts to these future-scenarios of living with climate change by exploring contemporary climate displacement in the United States.
The book’s argument is straightforward: climate displacement is already occurring, and its story “is messy, diffuse, and many-stranded. There is no single starting point, no shot-heard-round-the-world moment that kicked off this evolving process of relocation.” From soil erosion to droughts, and from flooding to wildfires, Bittle investigates the impact of climate displacement over eight compelling chapters. The result of hundreds of interviews and visits to each of the locations spread out across the U.S., the book is born from extensive fieldwork. In the hands of an unskilled narrator, this could easily create a sense of whiplash for a reader who encounters wildfires in California in one chapter and dire droughts in Arizona in another. Instead, the author reveals intricate connections among the people and places he visits.
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