At Home on an Unruly Planet

By Madeline Ostrander

At Home on an Unruly Planet book cover
Added March 8, 2023

A science journalist explores how our relationship to home is shifting in an era of planetary upheaval, offering stories of resilient communities on the front lines of climate change and reflecting on how to reimagine our lives. This past summer, one in three Americans experienced some kind of weather disaster--from the flooding that overtook coastal streets and the unprecedented heat wave that overwhelmed the Pacific Northwest to the wildfires that forced many to flee their homes. Climate change used to be a distant forecast; now it has begun reaching into the familiar, threatening our basic safety, and forcing us to re-examine who we are and how we live. We are all in a more precarious position now. What happens when the rhythms, the seasons, and the known patterns within which we have built our homes and our lives go off-kilter? In At Home on an Unruly Planet, environmental journalist Madeline Ostrander reflects on what climate change means not as an abstract scientific or political problem but as a palpable force that is now affecting us at home. In lyrical prose, she offers a series of deeply reported and vivid accounts of people fighting to protect places they love from increasingly dangerous circumstances--a firefighter and small-town mayor striving to rebuild a community after catastrophic fires in the Pacific Northwest; a historic preservationist working to protect one of North America's most historic cities, St. Augustine, Florida, from rising seas; an urban farmer trying to transform the future of an oil town in northern California that's been plagued by fossil-fuel disasters; and an Alaska Native community heading for higher ground as their old village site erodes. Each is not just a story of disaster but also of hard-won optimism, resilience, and creativity--a reflection of the strengths we all need to persevere in a time of uncertainty. Interspersed among these accounts are a series of essays meditating on the idea of home: Who do we become as the conditions of life change around us? Can we still reimagine how we live in order to protect our homes and the planet we inhabit? At Home on an Unruly Planet is required reading for anyone who wants to make a home in the 21st-century, an era of both climate crisis and hope.

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