The power of narratives to connect people around climate change


Author Earl Swift on a panel discussion about "Chesapeake Requiem" and climate change storytelling at ASU Cronkite journalism school

Acclaimed journalist and author Earl Swift made two presentations at Arizona State University on October 8 and 9 to discuss his latest nonfiction book, “Chesapeake Requiem," which tells the story of Tangier Island, Virginia — the United State's first town to be lost to climate change.

In advance of his visit, Swift was interviewed by local NPR affiliate KJZZ, where he spoke about his experience living on Tangier Island and the greater implications of climate change on the fate of U.S. towns. "What we need to do is develop a rubric for which communities we save and which we surrender, because it's pretty clear we don't have the time, the money or the means to save every place that's going to be threatened," Swift said.

Professor Tracy Fessenden speaks on a panel discussion about climate change, religion and storytelling at ASU Cronkite

Swift's second ASU event, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, was covered by ASU Now. This event, part of the new Global Futures Laboratory-supported initiative called “Apocalypticism, Climate Change, and the American Imagination,” focused on how storytelling can bridge divides around climate change. Swift was joined in a panel discussion by Cronkite School professor of practice Steven Beschloss, head of ASU’s Narrative Storytelling Initiative, and religious studies professor Tracy Fessenden, director of strategic initiatives for the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, for a deep dive into the apocalyptic thinking of Tangier Island’s residents and how their views reflect deeper trends in American responses toward climate change.