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Annie Proulx on why 'fighting' climate change is no longer the answer

At the beginning of the third millennium, the American novelist Anne Prux, living in Wyoming, saw a perfect but terrible storm brewing. Persistent drought and warm winters provide optimal conditions for the mountain pine beetle to thrive, and its continued infestation and wildfires continue to rage through the state’s old-growth, dense forests, including those in Yellowstone National Park, which are turning towering pines into ash tombstones. . “That was the moment when you first really realized something big was going on,” 87’s Proulx told me on the phone recently. “I’m a big believer in documenting what you see every year. Repeated observation is my way of life. It’s not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but a once-in-a-lifetime presence to observe these big changes.”

That’s how she started from novels to writing about ecological issues. Proulx delves into peat in her latest book Fen, Bog and Swamp (Scribner), The historical destruction of land and its role in the climate crisis. These mysterious wetlands, found in almost every country in the world, are vibrant but long since degraded, they have been formed over thousands of years – many at the end of the last ice age – and they are stored by storing methane and carbon that is Twice as many forests in the world combined. However, as Proulx writes, since the 15th century—when feudalism began to give way to nation-states, Western capitalism, and imperialism—peatlands have remained worthless because drained land was valuable for agriculture. Once dry, peat degrades and the stored carbon is released in the form of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide; Dr Caitlin Burns, a UK Environment Agency consultant specialising in land use to combat climate change, recently described to me “like setting a coal mine on fire” .

As Proulx basks in the need to study peatlands, she has been thinking about the climate crisis. “Fiction lost its appeal for a while, and I felt stupid to write it when the real world was changing so dramatically and so important — that’s where I needed to focus,” she said. Proulx is perhaps her own harshest critic, and although her novels are derived from her own imagination, her novels do turn the focus to real-world issues and stories from marginalized groups. In Shipping News , which won her the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Proulx captures the social, economic and environmental changes taking place in Newfoundland at the time of publication 1997; oil spills are killing the surrounding ocean and its life when dwindling cod stocks are forcing local fishermen out of work. In her short story Brokeback Mountain (1997), first published in The New Yorker , Proulx simultaneously deconstructs the masculine ideal of the “American Cowboy” and the homophobia that has led to rampant rampant in protagonists Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist (two male shepherds working together in Wyoming) to suppress their desire for Love for each other.

A group whose wisdom is often forcibly suppressed, which Proulx brings to the fore in her nonfiction Fen, Bog and Swamp, are indigenous peoples. In the book, she describes how Amazonian conservationists were murdered for trying to protect their homeland. “People who live with the land but never leave it, obviously know more about how things work than ‘us’ more urbanites,” she said. “We put human values ​​in wetlands and outdoors — we see them as wood, fish, oil and gas — but they are made up of many interconnected parts that had value before humans. You start getting it from nature, it’s tricky, parts of the Amazon will grow back, but there’s very little chance.”

Throughout Fen, Bog And Swamp, Proulx uses flexible prose to bring together scientific facts, personal experiences, and literary references while deciphering the nomenclature of these three subtle and diverse wetlands that together hold the crux of human history. The essential. Water and peat bogs, for example, preserve artifacts much better than dryland burials, and wetland archaeologists have found everything from carved wood and broken pottery fragments to human corpses. A notable example is the Tolund, who lived about 21950 years ago in 1950 Jutland, Denmark Natural mummies found in peat*). “One of the reasons I’m so interested in these old people is because they connect with the natural world in ways we can’t do today through the interior recesses of rivers, streams, standing water, mountains, caves, and islands,” Proulx wrote.



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