Reading “On the Move” and thinking mostly about climate change

May 16, 2024
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On the Move: The Overheating Earth and the Uprooting of America by Abrahm Lustgarten

Published in March 2024.

Earlier this month, I mentioned On the Move in my list of Universities on Fire–inspired climate change books and reviews.

If you pick one book to pair with Universities on Fire to catalyze a campus climate change conversation, On the Move would be a good choice.

The reason that On the Move is immediately relevant to our higher education climate-crisis discussion is the clarity that the book brings to the likely impact of sea level rise, extreme weather, wildfires and heat. 

The book’s strengths are in articulating the adaptations we will all need to make as the weather gets inevitably weirder, the storms more intense, the flooding more frequent, and the days hotter.

Sometimes, when I read books like On the Move (and Universities on Fire), I wonder if we should discuss anything besides climate change at our colleges and universities. On the Move only reinforces this perspective.  

One of the most memorable parts of On the Move is when the author describes his efforts to deal with the risk of wildfires near his California home. The book is filled with all sorts of stories and statistics illustrating how the impacts of climate change have already arrived and how climate-induced chaos is not a future to dread but a current reality to manage. 

Too few books I’ve read on climate change have done what On the Move does—shift the narrative from reporting to biography. I suspect we will have more first-hand accounts about the sequela of climate change in the future. 

On the Move dives into the likely future of climate-driven migration, as climate-driven droughts and unrelenting heat will make living across much of the South and West increasingly risky.

What should universities do to make themselves more resilient in the face of frequent extreme weather events, flooding risks and record-setting heat waves?

Has anyone counted the number of college campuses at risk of burning? Do we know how many universities are in coastal flood zones? 

Do you have other climate-emergency–related books, either nonfiction and fiction, that you can recommend?

Are you, like me, having trouble thinking about anything beyond climate change?



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