SoCJ’s Calvi Publishes Book Exploring Climate Change Through Literary Journalism

A new anthology by Associate Professor Pablo Calvi from the School of Communication and Journalism (SoCJ) explores the role of literary journalism in telling the story of how humans interact with and influence nature, with a particular focus on climate change.

Pablo Calvi

The book, The Literary Journalist as Naturalist, published by Palgrave MacMillan, compiles essays that examine different pieces of naturalist writing and literary journalism, a form of reporting that blends observed facts and the writer’s perspective and emotions. It seeks to answer the dual questions of why and how reporting that blends fact and emotion so often fails to influence public opinion, actions and policy.

“Pablo’s latest book explores, through many lenses, cultures and times, our relationship with and to the natural world, and begins to ask what and how journalism, in all its forms, can help society understand and respond to the increasingly critical need to protect our planet,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the SoCJ and executive director of the Alda Center for Communicating Science. “I sincerely congratulate him on this latest achievement.”

The book is the outgrowth of years of Calvi’s work and a conversation begun in 2018 at Stony Brook when the SoCJ hosted a conference he organized under the same name. As Calvi writes in his introduction, that same year the UN Secretary General suggested the world was entering an “era of global boiling.” In the six years since, natural disasters, made more powerful by climate change, have gotten worse.

“Today we are witnessing the direct impact of climate change everywhere we look,” said Calvi. “There is a clear connection between human activity and the alterations of our global ecosystems. Both journalism and literary journalism have been discussing this connection for decades. Yet, none of these journalistic forms have been able to modify a self-destructive pathway pushed by corporations, industry and profit. It is important for us to understand what journalism has done right, and what it has done wrong or insufficiently. Why our actions in the journalistic field have not been able to render actionable pathways to climate remediation and restoration. What has limited and even prevented journalism in its modern iteration, and Global North journalism in particular, from improving human interactions with nature, and our planet at large. Only when we are able to understand the limits of this type of journalism, will we be able to change, iterate, and improve.”

In the book’s nearly 20 chapters, writers reflect on other writers and pieces of literary journalism, including the legacy of people like David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, David Attenborough and John Joseph Mathews, known as the Native American Thoreau. The Literary Journalist as a Naturalist explores our relationships to places as varied as Latin America, Australia and Florida’s Everglades; how what we eat further imperils endangered species; and industries like logging, gold mining and energy production.

Read more about the book.

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