Remember that time in the 1980s when we almost took serious action on climate change? OK, I don’t either, and not just because I was a pup. We were never really that close to acting, although we certainly missed an opportunity to get the ball rolling. Journalist-novelist Nathaniel Rich tells the whole tale in his new book, Losing Earth: A Recent History.

That history is close to my heart: After the ensuing decade of relative inaction, I founded Grist as a young lad. In the 20 years since, I’ve certainly met the enemy — and damn it if Pogo wasn’t right, s/he/they is us.

But you know the gloomy news. What we don’t hear enough about is how momentum is building for positive change. I’m placing my bets on the people who are relentlessly moving forward, like those in this year’s Grist 50 — people like chef Tim Ma (with his carrot tops), investigative journalist Robin Amer (with her podcast), and policy wonk Rhiana Gunn-Wright (with her Green New Deal?!).

That’s why I’ve started a new program within Grist called, simply, Fix. Serving as Grist’s solutions lab, Fix identifies and lifts up a diverse array of leaders —Fixers— to usher in a whole new narrative of what’s possible.

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This newsletter, which I’m pulling off the shelf after a long hiatus, will follow that story, and the people who are working to make “shift happen,” as the title says. We at Fix are holding out hope for the future, and I want to show you why.

Please subscribe! And send me your story ideas and your feedback. Let’s not lose Earth this time.

–Chip, Grist founder

1. Your new hero

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With a name like hers, of course she’s a superhero: Kate Marvel is a Columbia University and NASA climate scientist with just the right mix of cynicism, star power, and social media following to bring her work to the masses. Catch her talking about the unexpected role of clouds in climate change on Freakonomics, and check out the killer piece she wrote for Scientific American about how we’re not actually totally doomed.

You can also find a little sanity by following her on Twitter, where she makes quips like this: “Can you imagine how much scarier it would be if climate change was actually being caused by something beyond our control?”

2. Your pick-me-up

3. Your reading list

Finalists for this year’s Pulitzer Prizes were announced earlier this month, and I was stoked to see writer Tommy Orange on the list. Orange’s debut novel There There, follows the lives of 12 Native Americans navigating their cultural history in urban America before bringing them all together at the Big Oakland Powwow.

Orange has a lot to say about our connections to the land, even in the concrete jungle. “I see cities as coming from the Earth in the same ways as, you know, the superstructure of an ant colony,” Orange told CityLab in an interview about the book. “We act like we’re aliens here, or like we’ve been given everything to dominate by God.”

4. Your next move

5. Your Sunday plans

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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And when life gives you stinging nettles, well, make yourself some pesto! In Washington state, where I live, the stuff is everywhere this time of year, and it hurts like hell when it rakes across your shins.

A couple of years ago, my kids came home from school insisting that we make nettle pesto and tea. “Ridiculous!” I thought. “I’m not eating that stuff!” But I confess that they had a point. The tea is quite tasty, and the pesto, well, I’ll just say it’s an acquired taste. Try it for yourself!


  • 3 cups fresh nettle leaves (careful!)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan


  1. Boil a pot of water and (if you care for your life) use tongs to dump the nettles in; boil for one minute.
  2. Remove nettles and place them in ice water, to cool rapidly.
  3. Cautiously, gingerly separate leaves from stems.
  4. Strain leaves well, getting out as much water out as possible.
  5. Put nettles to food processor. Blend.
  6. Add garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, and cheese.
  7. Blend until smooth. Add salt to taste.

Presto pesto! Spread on noodles, or use on a sandwich, or serve as a dip. Just like that, you’ve disarmed the opposition and turned an unpleasant situation into a delicious meal, with all the fixin’s…