What happens when climate change ravages graveyards?

I spend more time than I probably should wondering when the luxury condo trend will finally come for the dead. Real estate is expensive, and there's lots of valuable land in urban areas that could be used for yet-another fancy steel-and-glass skyscraper used to hide foreign money—if it wasn't for the cemeteries that currently take up all that space. I even have a half-finished short story in a notebook somewhere riffing on the classic Stephen King scenario of towns built on Native American burial grounds, except it's just luxury condos built up on the corpses of, well, everyone.

But I was thinking too far ahead. Because I didn't stop to think about what happens to those graveyards now, as flooding and earthquakes and more extreme weather disturb the soil under which our loved ones have been laid to their eternal rests. As a recent article in Scientific American gruesomely details, coffins are already body-surfing through the streets of Louisiana during storms:

The caskets and their surface vaults are sealed airtight, so pressure builds inside them when a hurricane or flash flood covers them in water. Moisture weakens the vault seal, and eventually the water begins to bubble with dead air—the tell-tale sign a casket is ready to pop out of its grave, Hunter said.

“You hear the bubbles, you see the bubbles, and you know that seal is weakening because of that immense amount of pressure. And then the lid comes off,” he said.

The visual of bubbling coffins popping out of the ground is scary enough. Read the rest

On Fire: Naomi Klein's book is a time-series of the shift from climate denial to nihilism to Green New Deal hope

My latest LA Times book review is for Naomi Klein's new essay collection, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, which traces more than a decade of Klein's outstanding, on-the-ground reports from the pivotal struggle to begin the transformational work needed to save our species and the rest of the Earth's living things from a devastating, eminently foreseeable, and ultimately avoidable climate catastrophe. Read the rest

Peak indifference has arrived: a majority of Republicans say climate change is real

Five years ago, I coined the term "peak indifference" to describe a moment when a public health problem -- like climate change, tobacco use, surveillance capitalism, or monopolism -- reaches a tipping point: the moment when the consequences of actions taken a long time ago and very far away start to be felt so widely that the number of people who believe there is a problem starts to grow of its own accord. It's not the moment when a majority of people agree that the problem is real, but it is the moment at which the denial of the realness of the problem reaches its peak, and begins a long, inevitable decline. Read the rest