The Oberlin Review

Students and community members gather in Tappan Square for a climate strike on the morning of Sept. 20.

A Dispatch From Oberlin’s Climate Strike

April 22, 2020

Editor’s note: On Sept. 20, 2019, the Global Climate Strike took place in thousands of communities around the world, as millions of people rallied to support the urgency of climate change solutions. In Oberlin, more than 600 students and community members gathered at the grandstand in Tappan Square to join the global movement. The following was the rally’s opening address, which has been edited for length and clarity. Good morning, everyone. My name is Faith Ward, and I want to welcome you ...

University of Wisconsin students protest the institution’s fossil fuel investments.

Across the Country, Colleges & Universities Move to Divest

April 22, 2020

As the issue of climate change has become increasingly salient, colleges and universities have come under increasing pressure to withdraw their investments wrapped up in different ways in the fossil fuel industry. These demands raise questions about the potential impact of fossil fuel divestment, as well as its financial and technical viability for educational institutions. Last year, the Review reported on the College endowment’s exposure to fossil fuels (College Maintains ‘Minimal Exposure...

Mary Annaïse Heglar.

Q&A: Mary Annaïse Heglar, OC ’06, Climate Writer

April 22, 2020

Mary Annaïse Heglar, OC ’06, is a writer who focuses primarily on personal essays about the intersections of climate and justice. She also serves as director of publications for the National Resources Defense Council, and is currently a writer-in-residence at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where she is working on both short- and long-form pieces about climate change and its human impacts. Recently, Heglar has published on the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ways that grief over its spread ...

Earlier this month, the demolition of the Crawford coal plant’s smokestack sent dust billowing into the Chicago community of
Little Village in the midst of a global pandemic.

COVID-19, Climate Justice Fundamentally Linked

April 22, 2020

When this Editorial Board first met to discuss possible directions for our work in this issue, the possibilities seemed limitless. After all, environmental themes like resource overuse, air and water pollution, and environmental policy and racism all intersect with the Oberlin community in countless ways as climate change continues to impact life around the world, including in Northeast Ohio. Now, as we complete this magazine while sheltered in place, our futures have changed in ways we had not...

Barefoot Dialogue: Seeking Connection to People and Land

Barefoot Dialogue: Seeking Connection to People and Land

April 22, 2020

Young activists rally for the Green New Deal.

In Favor of the Green New Deal

April 22, 2020

By now, it is clear that the world has until 2030 to limit the catastrophic effects of climate change by keeping global average temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In order to meet this goal, global carbon emissions will need to drop 45 percent from 2010 levels over the next 10 years. At our current rate, the world will not even meet the Paris Climate Agreement target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperature levels by then, and...

Water levels across the Great Lakes System are reaching record highs.

As Great Lakes Water Levels Rise, Connection to Climate Change Unclear

April 22, 2020

Water levels in Lake Erie — and the Great Lake system overall — are higher this year than they’ve been in over a century, and for people who live and work next to the water, the impacts can be significant. This past winter alone, a beachside park in Northeast Ohio lost 45 feet of land in just 10 days due to erosion; homeowners around Lake Erie scrambled to build emergency shore protection to shelter their properties from high tides; and strong winds along the water encased lake-side New York hous...

High school students rally at last September’s Climate Strike.

From Oberlin High School to Kendal: Climate Activism Across Generations

April 22, 2020

Looking back on his decades of climate activism, Vice President of Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy John Elder, OC ’53, remembers that his passion for environmental activism grew out of his childhood love of the outdoors. “I was ingrained with an appreciation of our oneness with the environment,” he recalled. The activism of Oberlin High School Sustainability Club President Sacha Brewer has different roots: a recognition of the pressing need for action in the face of the globa...

Sonia Shah.

Q&A: Sonia Shah, OC ’90, Investigative Journalist

April 22, 2020

Sonia Shah, OC ’90, is an investigative journalist and award-winning author. She has written several notable books, including The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move, set to release in June 2020. Her writing is focused on the intersections of science, environment, human rights, and international politics. Shah has lectured at top-tier universities and appeared on global platforms such as BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, and NPR. She has also been featured in acclaimed publicatio...

The Black River Watershed, where the City of Oberlin collects its drinking water.

Water Management in Oberlin: An Overview

April 22, 2020

For decades, environmental activists and agencies in Northeast Ohio have worked to ensure safe drinking water for residents and safeguard surface water against pollution. In the mid-20th century, the picture was bleak: The Black River, a tributary of Lake Erie which runs through Oberlin, was nicknamed the “River of Tumors” because of dead fish littering its coastline. When the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969 as a result of industrial waste, Congress took action to pass the Clean Water Act. ...

In UCC Report, Northeast Ohio Identified As “Hot Spot” of Environmental Injustice

Nathan Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief

April 22, 2020

This past February, the United Church of Christ published a report on polluting facilities located in or near residential communities across the country. The report, titled “Breath to the People: Sacred Air and Toxic Pollution,” focused on 100 “super polluters” throughout the United States, and especially on the impact of those facilities on children under the age of five living in their vicinity. The report was primarily authored by Rev. Traci Blackmon, UCC associate general minister, and Rev. Brooks Berndt, UCC minister of environmental justice. In assembling the report’s narrative, the authors chose to focus on three “hot spots” of toxic air emissions: the Houston metropolitan area, Louisiana’s Cancer Alle...

A photo of the author’s research group in Cuba. Author pictured first row, second from right.

Engaged and Applied Science is the Future of Environmental Research

April 22, 2020

After a mass transition away from industrial monoculture to organic agriculture in the 1990s, Cuba has rapidly become a model for organic agriculture research. The island remained largely inaccessible to American scientists until the Obama administration lifted embargo restrictions on National Science Foundation funding for collaboration with Cuban scientists as part of reestablishing diplomatic relations in 2014. For the first time in more than half a century, a joint Cuban-American scientific...

Established 1874.