In the News

Landscape Change in the News

Media coverage of climate change often focuses on political differences, highlights extreme events, and emphasizes the global scope of the challenge. Images of receding glaciers, wildfires, and polar bears without ice dominant the web and provide the low-hanging fruit for journalists to sound the alarm. This alarmist framing in combination with the relative dearth of solutions-focused articles, contributes to a sense that the climate change is too big and too “elsewhere” to be seen and acted upon by average individual humans.

LandTalk is based on the idea that humans experience, understand, and can create change at the scale of landscapes. Landscapes are places made up of visible natural and human features that interact at the scale of an individual person’s experience (sometimes thought of as “as far as you can see”). By focusing on landscapes, LandTalk attempts to reframe and broaden discussions of climate change to focus on the constant, inter-related, and observable qualities of human and environmental changes in local areas, often at home in one’s backyard. Such a frame also expands the conversation to not be entirely about climate, but also about economic and urban development, cultural transitions, societal trends, as well as individual human behaviors, desires, and activities.

Media coverage of landscape change is not entirely lacking, especially when describing the local effects of global climate patterns. Here are several articles that highlight such stories.

Wall Street Journal: Feb. 20, 2020
On Rising Great Lakes, Backyards Are Disappearing Overnight
Some homeowners are moving back from water; millions in damage across region
It only took one bad storm for the Brengel family to lose their backyard. Living on the shore of Lake Michigan, rising lake levels from increased rain and snowfall has dramatically changed the place that the Brengels call home. Where a grassy shoreline used to be, there is now a 12 foot cliff.

Audubon: November 7, 2014
Strangers in Your Backyard? Thank Climate Change
Over the past two decades, the cast of birds that frequent winter feeders has changed.
Researchers find that winter bird communities of eastern North America have been slowly changing, with bird species adapted for warm climates, including Carolina Wrens and Chipping Sparrows, becoming increasingly common further north than normal. / The Star Ledger: July 10, 2019
Is climate change real? We just took a look in our backyard.
Scientists show climate change with evidence that is far away from population centers.
Guest columnist Michael Chimes describes the changes he has seen in his rural New York backyard over 40 years. “It’s possible to see that the effects of climate change are not the misfortune of the unlucky few in the path of an unusually ferocious tornado or wildfire. The effects are right in your backyard.”

Scientific American: March 23, 2009
Climate Change Hits American Yards
A new hardiness map for plants from the USDA reveals just how much local climates are changing
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map, last updated in 1990, shows where various species can be expected to thrive. A detailed revision of this map provides a window into how much rising temperatures have shifted planting zones northward.

Numerous LandTalk entries discuss changes observed in backyards. Here are few entries to get you started: