Episode 53 – The Worst Year in Human History and the Tumbleweed Debacle

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Sometimes you just need a good escapist story! This week we’re diving into two unlikely climate tales that say more about our current situation than you might suspect.

First, Olivia explains why 2020 has nothing on 536 as the worst year in human history. Yearlong fogs, snow in August, the first plague pandemic… and not without a healthy dose of medieval drama and gluttony.

Then, Elise takes on tumbleweeds, an iconic staple of the American Southwest that is actually from halfway across the world. Add “house buried by tumbleweeds” to your list of disasters to avoid.

Plus, we talk rebranding Elise’s vintage shop, a new podcast for the cocktail enthusiast, and our new favorite word.

Story #1: 536, The Worst Year in Human History (Olivia)
A depiction of Procopius, court historian of Justinian I and medieval shit-stirrer
Story #2: Tumbleweed Invasion (Elise)
[via NPR article cited below] A member of the Victorville public works team clears tumbleweeds from homes in Victorville, Calif., on Monday.
James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP

Tumbleweed: Russian Thistle, DesertUSA
Giant tumbleweeds are causing giant headaches for this California town, CNN, April 2018
Russian Thistle, UC Riverside Center For Invasive Species
Massive Tumbleweeds Invaded a California Town, Trapping Residents in Their Homes, Mental Floss, April 2018
Howling wind and tumbleweeds wreak havoc in Victorville, Los Angeles Times, April 2018
‘Houses Disappeared’ When Tumbleweeds Rolled Into This California City, NPR, April 2018
How a Ukraine Conflict Could Reshape Europe’s Reliance on Russia, New York Times, Feb 2022

Additional Resources on Ukraine

Razom for Ukraine compiled a robust list of resources for how to help Ukraine – both ways to contact your reps and ways to donate directly. They are providing urgently needed medical supplies and amplifying the voices of Ukrainians on the ground.

Since we recorded the episode last week, climate journalists and experts have been working hard to get the connection between war and fossil fuels into mainstream media. And some places like Germany have been taking real action to speed the shift to renewable energy.
Some media examples include:
Fossil fuel companies are trying to exploit this war for their gain. We can’t let them, Jamie Henn for The Guardian
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has left a hole in the global energy market, Grist
Germany to speed renewables push due to Ukraine crisis, Reuters
Germany turns to renewables after Russian invasion of Ukraine, The Independent
The Wrong Way for the U.S. to Counter Russia’s Actions, Slate (about fracking)

We talk more about fracking and natural gas in Episode 14 – Fracking and the Deception Dossiers.

The Dump

Check out the Heiss Vintage rebrand and Lan’s new podcast for the cocktail enthusiasist, Bottle Episode.

We’ve been watching Euphoria, Sex Lives of College Girls, and Abbott Elementary.

The World Is Burning bookshop is live! Help us come up with book list titles and bulk up our reading list.

Our World is Burning themed playlist is on Spotify.

You can keep up with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok.

If you enjoyed this episode, considering reviewing us on Apple Podcasts and downloading/subscribing/following wherever you like to do those things. It helps us immensely.

Thanks for listening!

Ep. 74 – Burning Questions Part II World Is Burning

Can you believe we've gone 2 1/2 years without creating our very own game show about us? Neither can we! Test your climate knowledge alongside us as we ask ourselves the burning questions: Where are tumbleweeds from? What are our favorite climate activists' favorite insects? and How do you do fractions again? Subscribe/follow/press the button to keep up with new episodes every Wednesday! You can also follow us @worldisburnin on Instagram and Twitter or @worldisburning on TikTok, and check out our website worldisburning.com for extended show notes including sources and photos. World Is Burning is hosted by Olivia Hamilton and Elise Nye. Our theme music is by Kaycie Satterfield, and our logo was made by Sonja Katanic. — Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/worldisburning/message
  1. Ep. 74 – Burning Questions Part II
  2. Ep 73 – Burning Questions
  3. Ep. 72 – It’s A Joke Until It’s Not – the Overton Window and AI
  4. Ep. 71 – Oil Spills – Deepwater Horizon and Dawn Dish Soap
  5. Ep. 70 – Deep Sea Explorers – Jacques Cousteau & Dr. Sylvia Earle