Welcome to Issue 48.1 of Digestable, your thrice-weekly mouthful of real things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
Today’s news, fermented:
As mutual aid efforts continue to meet needs across a frozen Texas, the parameters on our understanding of climate disaster must stretch and shift.
Climate migration maps show suitable zones shifting northward in the US—with places like the Northeast looking alright, and the South and West looking complicated at best.
But this week is a good time to revisit a recent episode of Outside/In, a podcast from New Hampshire public radio, about climate migration. The episode begins with someone calling in from Alabama, asking where she could move her family in the interest of climate safety in the coming years.
The conclusion of the episode is the same one we have had to draw over the last week’s stories of oft-sweltering Texas pummeled by a polar vortex. There is no refuge, there are just tradeoffs.
As with all things climate, planning will only do so much, but all we can do is plan (and make the fossil fuel industry pay for a just transition away from fossil fuels, of course). In the episode, a few big themes emerge that resonate with the ongoing disaster in Texas, and will likely be true in future crises.
The numbers—and the maps—often oversimplify. Maybe there’s more water in one place, but that’s also reliant on a small population, which could balloon in the face of climate migration. Maybe there’s a high wildfire risk in another place, but good planning could keep it possible to grow crops. There’s always more than one factor at play (e.g. Texas isn’t usually cold, but also none of the houses are insulated), and the only way to get ahead of that complexity is to plan for it.
Whenever people move (anywhere, but especially into and around the stolen land we call the United States), there will be protectiveness, nativism, and all of the other discriminatory factors present in other situations. What happens in a place that has a small, relatively homogeneous population that receives climate migrants holding many identities? This too needs to be planned for—receiving migrants and being inviting are really different, as we’ve seen all too clearly with our federal government’s immigration policies.
The feeling that you can ‘settle down’ and be in one place for your whole life is a mark of privilege—too often, BIPOC folks and poor and low-income people are forced to move from a place that is home. Whiteness (and the colonization that has given it power) stakes claims to place in ways that all too often displace and exclude. Now, it’s crucial that plans for where people go as the climate changes are intentional in planning for the need to share space and migrate within a habitable zone, and the fact that a lot of the wealthiest people will pay to not have to move.
Here are some hippos that are already in the wrong place.
The Second Look
Half-baked cultural criticism from Gabriel Coleman, back next week.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
After teasing us with speculation over the last couple of months, Kim Kardashian has finally filed for divorce from Kanye West.
Anyone who has been following this saga shouldn't be surprised at this outcome. There have been plenty of "Will they? Won't they?" stories about the Kardashian-West marriage that I firmly believe was Kim prepping the foundation for the end of this marriage while receiving as little blowback from the public as possible. I guess that's why Kim did the "real celebrity" thing of dropping huge news to the press on a Friday afternoon. But even then, given the clusterf-ck of a week the U.S. has had, the response was pretty mild.
People Magazine reported that everything was amicably conducted and that there are prenups in place to prevent this split from getting messy. That was probably a very smart thing to do although I guess I'm just slightly surprised that a prenup exists! The only thing that needs to be worked out still is custody of their four children. TMZ reports that Kim is pushing for joint custody although she'll still have the kids most of the time considering the fact that Kanye lives in Wyoming and already rarely sees them.
Anyway, as sad as it is when two people split up, it is also quite a convenient thing to happen in time for the last season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I'm sure this won't be included in the storyline at all this season or being milked for its own special after the end of the show at all. What I really want to know is whether or not they made Kanye sign airtight NDAs so that he won't spill the tea in another Twitter outburst the way he did a few months ago. I guess only time will tell!