Selected Essays

I’ll update this page whenever I publish something new that seems to belong here.


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)


Solidarity Now. An experiment in oral history of the present. (The Baffler, January/February, 2021)


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)

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)

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)

The Social Beast: On the anti-totalitarian Simone Weil. What Weil meant by the word totalitarian—whether referring to the Roman Catholic Church, Nazism and Stalinism, or the tendencies of political parties and organizations in general—still hangs over us all. (The Baffler, April 14, 2021)

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)

The Hardest Thing About the Green New Deal. Three new books — including Noam Chomsky’s latest — raise the difficult question: what does global solidarity look like at this late hour? (The Nation, October 12, 2020)

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)