Ben Ehrenreich, winner of a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, treks across the West to learn how its deserts can inform our understanding of ecosystems and how we might achieve a sustainable habitat for our survival. Traveling from the canyons of the Mojave to the barren flats of Las Vegas, Ehrenreich weaves memoir, myth, and journalism in Desert Notebooks to present this harrowing account of our environment.
This article appears in the Fall 2021 issue of Alta Journal.
Desert Notebooks explores the terrifying possibilities of climatic and political apocalypses. What gives you hope about the future?
The incredible growth over the past few years of organized, grassroots resistance to the suicidal status quo. I mean both the youth-led global climate movement and the water protectors and other Indigenous-led movements in the United States and around the world.
Your book uses science, philosophy, and mythology to analyze our understanding of time. What myths helped in this regard?
I ended up focusing a lot on the myth that has colonized so much of the world over the past two and a half centuries: the myth of progress, which profoundly and intimately shapes the way many of us think about time and race. It’s not a particularly convincing myth at the moment, which makes it all the more important to understand the power that it holds and where it came from. •