Generation Hot: A Journalist Talks About Climate Change

A veteran environmental reporter, Mark Hertsgaard has covered climate change for outlets ranging from The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Time for over 20 years, will speak at Duke University’s Sanford Commons at 12 noon on Friday, April 13.

The investigative reporter turned activist soon after the birth of his daughter, when he realized that climate change was not an event coming in 50 to 100 years, but was already happening.  His daughter is part of what Hertsgaard calls “Generation Hot,” those who will spend their lives coping with the hottest, most volatile climate ever know.

In his book, “Hot: Living through the Next Fifty Years on Earth,” Hertsgaard outlines both possible scenarios, such as a Chicago with Houston-like temperatures year around, and policy solutions, such as geo-engineering and tree planting.

“When my daughter turned seven last week, we celebrated with a homemade chocolate cake. I wonder whether she’ll be able to do that with her own child someday. Scientists are already warning that chocolate and wheat (the raw material for flour) will become harder to grow as temperature and rainfall patterns are disrupted… More and more agricultural experts are saying we need a shift to ecological agriculture, sometimes known as agro-ecology.” Hertsgaard wrote in a recent article in the online magazine Slate.

Hertsgaard sees reason for hope for Generation Hot.  In Africa, he found farmers adapting to hotter temperatures by planting trees in their fields of millet, which ended up increasing crop yield by providing shade and increasing water retention in the soil. All over the world, he has talked to people exploring solutions, from the high-tech of alternative energy to simple methods of water conservation.

Hertsgaard will sell copies of his book after the talk.  Refreshments will be provided. The event is free and sponsored by the Hart Leadership Program.