Learning to Live in the Dark: Selected Essays

If I were to put together a selection of my essays on learning to live in our time of political and climate catastrophe, it would perhaps look something like this. I’ll update this page whenever I publish something new that seems to belong here… (11/6/19)


Convergence: Trump and Paris. Two catastrophes, political and planetary, converge. (Pacific Standard, December 11, 2015)

Learning to Live in the Dark. Reading Hannah Arendt in the time of political and climate catastrophe. A personal essay. (Los Angeles Review of Books, September 22, 2017)


Lonelier Planet. Confession of a twenty-something globetrotting imperialist. (The American Prospect, January 2002)

Re: No Subject. Desperately seeking authenticity in time of war. (AGNI, Fall 2003)


Walking Home From Walden. On the spiritual crisis at the heart of the climate crisis. (Slate, five-part series, June 2011; and, in different form, What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other, 2015)

Land, Community, Justice. The gospel according to Wendell Berry. (The Nation, 150th Anniversary Issue, April 2015; and, in different form, What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other, 2015)

The Climate-Justice Pope. Francis, embracing climate science and liberation theology, throws down a radical challenge. (The Nation, cover story, September 28 – October 5, 2015)

Houston’s Human Catastrophe Started Long Before the Storm. The poorest and most vulnerable Houstonians have been left utterly undefended. (The Nation, August 29, 2017)

Thoreau’s Radical Moment–and Ours. “Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right … is essentially revolutionary,” (The Nation, cover story, May 27, 2013; and, in different form, What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other, 2015)

Dear Friends and Colleagues…

A Convenient Excuse. Dear mainstream media colleagues: Time is running out to prevent climate catastrophe. Lives are at stake. And you are failing us all.  (The Boston Phoenix, cover story, November 2, 2012; DeSmogBlog, May 3, 2019)

A Climate Truth-Tellers Honor Roll. What would our national conversation on climate change sound like if this kind of honesty broke through? (The Nation, December 24, 2013)

Let This Earth Day Be the Last. “Environmentalism” has failed. The planet now needs a movement far more radical. (The Nation, April 22, 2014)

Other Universities Divest From Fossil Fuels—Harvard Doubles Down. It’s time for Harvard, the Exxon of higher education, to kick the Carbon Lobby out of the Kennedy School. (The Nation, May 4, 2016)

Normalizing Denial: Trump, Tillerson, and Climate Reality. A political and media culture that can accommodate Exxon’s climate denial is a culture ripe for Trump. (The Nation, January 16-23, 2017)

Doomed / Not-Doomed

Extinction & Us. On Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction. (The Boston Globe, February 22, 2014)

Carbon Ironies. On William T. Vollmann’s Carbon Ideologies, Vols. I & II. (The Baffler, June 13, 2018)

Losers’ History. On Nathaniel Rich’s Losing Earth and David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth. (The Baffler, April 22, 2019)

‘Living in Truth’ in the Face of Climate Catastrophe. On Bill McKibben’s Falter—and the revolution we need now. (The Nation, April 11, 2019)

Are We Doomed? Yes! No! Don’t Know! A ‘Bad Buddhist’ Manifesto. (Adapted from remarks at the Rubin Museum in New York City, December 1, 2018)