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

Listen on Spotify / Apple / Anchor / scroll down for our podcast player!


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

Sources:
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!

World Is Burning Presents: Bottle Episode – Daiquiris and Digressions with Nick Dolan World Is Burning

With Olivia finishing up her grad program and BOTH of us having gotten covid in the last few weeks, we didn't want to throw together an episode! Quality over quantity right? But, we figured you might enjoy Elise's new podcast Bottle Episode: The Professional Bartender's Guide For The Cocktail Enthusiast that she's making with her husband Lan. This is definitely a change of pace from our usual content, but kick back, relax, and learn the history of and how to make one of Elise's favorite classic cocktails, the Daiquiri! On this episode, Lan and Elise chat with Nick Dolan, their dear friend and incredible bartender based in Nashville, TN. He's lent his talents to the NoMad in NYC, the Fox Bar and Cocktail Club, Skull's Rainbow Room, and Nightscape in Nashville, TN. There's no better person to talk Daiquiris with than this kind, brilliant soul. Plus, they talk a little bit about Fox's sustainability practices! Don't forget to give Bottle Episode a follow if you enjoyed listening! — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/worldisburning/message
  1. World Is Burning Presents: Bottle Episode – Daiquiris and Digressions with Nick Dolan
  2. Ep. 56 – Earth Day and Greenwashing
  3. Ep. 55 – Botanical Sexism and Bed-Stuy's Tree Lady Hattie Carthan
  4. Ep. 54 – Earthrise and Big Plastic’s Recycling Scam
  5. Ep. 53 – The Worst Year in Human History and the Tumbleweed Debacle