Award-winning environmental journalist Mark Schapiro will give a free talk Thursday night at UCSB’s Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall, where he will discuss how climate change affects economic and political patterns in our world. Specifically, Schapiro will discuss climate change in the context of his 2014 book, Carbon Shock: A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy. He will also foreshadow potential areas of dispute in the upcoming UN climate negotiations, which will occur from November 30 to December 11 in Paris.

Schapiro discovered at a young age that it was possible to study other power structures within the scope of environmental issues. In his twenties, while co-authoring the book Circle of Poison — describing how the U.S. was exporting banned pesticides to other countries and, therefore, importing foods contaminated with pesticide residue — Schapiro realized he could tell political and economic stories through environmental journalism. “When you do environmental journalism, you are ultimately reporting on many different aspects of our society at the same time,” Schapiro said in an interview with The Santa Barbara Independent.

Since then, Schapiro has tried to take a “multi-dimensional approach to environmental questions,” looking at the economic impact and political interests behind environmental issues. The approach has shaped Schapiro’s work ever since and will be a large focus of his lecture at UCSB.

Schapiro told The Independent the three main points he will deliver Thursday. First, “climate change is redrawing the lines not only of our natural system, but also redrawing lines of economic [and political] decision making — determining which kinds of forces will rise over the coming decade and which will decline as we kind of enter into this climate-impacted world.”

Second, Schapiro will discuss “geopolitical shifts,” or geography’s affect on international politics, and resulting questions of social justice, which he claims are at the heart of climate change. According to him, discussions about social justice include identifying who is responsible for climate change and who is directly impacted by climate change. Third, he will talk about the underlying “struggle” to identify and integrate the externalized costs of fossil fuels into the “global economic order.”

Finally, Schapiro touched on the UN climate negotiations, explaining the extreme significance of the upcoming conference. “The world has been building toward this moment because all around the world concern is growing about the impact we’re already feeling,” Schapiro said of the increasing alarm over climate change.


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