Your novel paints a bleak environmental picture of the future. Are you hopeful or despairing when it comes to climate change?
Both. Optimism and pessimism go together and flip back and forth. My best weapon against despair is acknowledging the weirdness of the current moment — the fact that such bizarre, unexpected things are happening all the time allows me to imagine that anything could happen. Of course, on the global scale, the most likely thing that will happen is probably a continuation of what is already happening: a catastrophic loss of biodiversity, a steep change in temperatures, and sea level rise that will displace millions of people. The science is pretty hard to dispute (although plenty of people try).
But then incredible and creative initiatives are sprouting up everywhere, many of them, the ones I am most impressed by and believe the most in, focused and functional on quite a small scale. There is hope in everyday actions, even though it can be hard to feel like you’re having an effect. Ultimately, corporations and nation-states that prioritize short-term profit over the long-term survival of ecosystems will have to be forced to change. In the meantime, a lot of individual decisions add up.
In response to questions about whether I see the future as total dystopia, I often try to ask the reverse: whose dystopia? And whose utopia? Seen from the perspective of a person living the Global South rather than where I’m sitting (from a position of privilege in New York), would those futures be framed very differently? And zooming way out, what if the human is no longer the center of the story of the planet? A utopia for mosquitoes may not be the same as mine, but when it comes to the health of ecological systems as a whole, their thriving might be a very hopeful scenario.
Read the full interview here.