A welcome anthology, in prose and verse, of women’s writings on climate change.
At the outset, marine biologist Johnson, founder of the Urban Ocean Lab, and teacher Wilkinson, vice president of Project Drawdown, write that the political and social constructs that oppress women are one and the same with those that are wreaking havoc on the global environment: “Dominance, supremacy, violence, extraction, egotism, greed, ruthless competition—these hallmarks of patriarchy fuel the climate crisis just as surely as they do inequality, colluding with racism along the way.” There’s no such zero-sum game-playing here. The editors observe that women are well equipped to transcend ego and competition in order to create a politics of “heart-centered, not just head-centered, leadership.” Many of the writings that follow celebrate Indigenous ways of knowing: Mexico-born Xiye Bastida, for example, invokes her Otomi-Toltec ancestors to advocate a “shift in culture and mindset.” She argues vigorously for intersectional activism and eschews any form of exclusive politics that further marginalizes the disenfranchised. Penobscot writer Sherri Mitchell emphasizes the importance of recognizing that “we are all inextricably linked” while Joy Harjo, the first Native poet laureate, raises a number of provocative questions for would-be political leaders—e.g., “Do you have authority by the original keepers of the lands, those who obey natural law and are in the service of the lands on which you stand?” If not, the leader has no business in the job. Some writers—Naomi Klein, say—are more grounded in scientific and political approaches, and poet Emily Johnston delivers a needed caution: We can work diligently and still not solve the monumental problems we face, but that is no excuse not to do it: “There is too much we need to heal, and we have to change the path that we’re on. We have beautiful work to do before we die.” Other contributors include Ada Limón, Kendra Pierre-Louis, Varshini Prakash, and Mary Oliver.
A well-curated collection with many ideas for ways large and small to save the planet.