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The Next Project That Will Take Me Around The World

What my next big project could be all about.

Climate change pollution
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ASTORIA, NYC- I’m attracted to clusterfucks. Or at least that’s my takeaway from reviewing the types of projects that I’ve been drawn to over the years.

And there is perhaps no bigger clusterfuck in the world right now than the debate over climate change.

(Well, maybe Israel / Palestine, but you have to be a madman to touch that one…)

On the one hand there’s a massive contingent that says humans are responsible for the weather and that we’re rapidly accelerating on the path of boiling ourselves in our own tank. They put up giant clocks counting down the time to doomsday, glue themselves to highways, and fling soup onto priceless paintings. The tides of academia, government, and creepy post-corporate entities like the WEF are now flowing in their direction, as cities are restricting movement between their own districts, countries are banning domestic flights, farms are being shut down, cows are being engineered to fart less, and bugs are what’s for dinner.

On the other hand, there’s a much smaller, much less connected movement that says this is all bullshit, that the data is being rigged, and that the earth naturally has periods of accelerated climatic fluctuations that we don’t fully understand.

As for me, I have no idea (yet) … but I imagine the truth — as usual — is somewhere in the middle.

I wouldn’t think that we could go through a century of mass global industrialization, where we threw up cascading seas of smokestacks and built massive highways chock full of exhaust spewing cars all over the world, and have it not have any impact.

But, at the same time, the story of the earth is the story of a changing climate. Even within the insanely short time that anatomically modern humans have been around, lush rainforests have dried up and became desert, glaciers melted away to nothing, and sea levels drastically rose to swallow up wide swaths of land — and this was all while we were playing grab ass in caves and chasing around herds of caribou.

From New York Nature:

Global warming accelerated 10,000 years ago, triggering rapid changes in plant and animal life. It’s possible Paleoindians witnessed the changeover from spruce to pine forest in a single lifetime. As pines quickly colonized the region, tundra retreated northward, and with it, the animals that grazed on it. Some of the mammals that thrived at the edge of the ice, caribou and elk among them, shifted northward with their habitats, but many others died out in what is termed as the “Great Wave of Extinctions.”

If we don’t blame the native Americans for climate change ten thousand years ago then why do we blame us now?

However, I know it’s more nuanced than this … and many will go out of their way to claim that it is different this time.

Iactually began this project around six months ago when I started shooting a documentary feature that looked into the various initiatives to turn coastal ecosystem all the way down the east coast of the US into colossal industrial power plants. I traveled from Maine to Delaware, and what I found didn’t make much sense: massive government subsidies being paid to oil and gas companies to build expensive “green” energy sources that don’t last very long, don’t work very well, and need to be backed up by brand new gas-fired power plants.

So much about this doesn’t make any sense … and this is my primary interest here — climate change is really just a segue. Globalization is entering into its third phase, and our cultures, economic systems, and governments seem to be on the brink of being transformed into something very different than they were in the previous century.

My interest is in such big global changes. (That’s my elevator pitch anyway.)

At root, you travel the world to find out what’s going on — to find out what way the winds are blowing by sticking out a hand and feeling them. You travel to observe the small movements of thought and politics that may eventually gain traction and challenge our existing paradigms. You go out there, ask some questions, and try to figure out what’s going on for yourself. It’s clear that our conventional media, government, and educational institutions aren’t going to do it for you.

I’m simply curious about what’s going on … and a reason to travel, check out some interesting things, and talk to some fascinating people is always welcomed.

Sometimes the project is just an excuse to move.

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Filed under: Climate Change, Environment, Panama

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3722 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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