The Long and Short of It

Think about the climate crisis long enough, and the problem appears so vast as to be unthinkable. And yet, that’s what we must do.

Kate Aronoff and Jake Bittle both write about climate. Bittle’s book, The Great Displacement, came out earlier this year and looks at how people have been forced by climate change to internally migrate in the United States. Aronoff’s Overheated, published in 2021, looks at the macroeconomic forces that have caused climate change. Their exchange below covers what’s currently standing in the way of resolving the climate crisis and how those obstacles might be moved.

JAKE BITTLE: In Overheated, you argued that modern capitalism is the root cause of the climate crisis and perhaps the largest obstacle to resolving that crisis. In explaining the state of climate politics, you wrote that “the private sector will be a major part of the transition off fossil fuels” but also argued that “to handle this crisis, capitalism will have to be replaced as society’s operating system.” A lot’s happened since then. Your book came out before the Inflation Reduction Act became law, before the war in Ukraine pushed Europe off Russian gas, and before so-called E…

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