James West

James West

Climate Desk Producer

James West is senior producer for the Climate Desk and a contributing producer for Mother Jones. He wrote Beijing Blur (Penguin 2008), a far-reaching account of modernizing China’s underground youth scene. James has a masters of journalism under his belt from NYU, and has produced a variety of award-winning shows in his native Australia, including the national affairs program Hack. He's been to Kyrgyzstan, and also invited himself to Thanksgiving dinner after wrongly receiving invites for years from the mysterious Tran family.

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How to Cook After a Catastrophe

| Thu Feb. 9, 2012 4:00 AM PST

A weather presenter and a celebrity chef walk into a kitchen…that was the novel hook for this cooking class (and, hell, it's not often Climate Desk gets to film a cooking show).

This is about as far away from the dry, cracked soil of a Texas cattle ranch as it gets: Fifth Avenue, New York City. At a seminar that cost $225 a head, a small selection of guests learned about the impact of 2011's record number of billion dollar disasters—there were 12, including the ongoing drought in Texas—and how to cook around them using substitute ingredients. While author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich talked about the ingredients affected by last year's weather, TV meteorologist Bonnie Schneider (you've probably seen her on CNN) explained how climate change is causing tougher farming conditions and leaving Americans with bigger food bills.

The take-out lesson? Disaster cooking is about more than simple substitution.

"Recycling food is not about reheating food," Bastianich said. "It's about making something new." After demonstrating how to create a delectable ragout, she added, "There's going to be a run on oxtails!"

Lidia Bastianich at Eataly, New York: James West

Lidia Bastianich at Eataly, New York: James West

Tell Us: How Do You Teach Your Kids About Climate Change?

| Thu Feb. 2, 2012 9:47 AM PST

When I was in New Hampshire recently, I met Sarah Larson Dennen, a teacher at Moharimet Elementary School in Madbury. We were talking about something else entirely - the decline of New England's sugar maple - but another part of our on-carmera interview has stuck with me ever since: how Sarah teaches her young students about climate change.

"Language is really key when you're talking to kids," Sarah explained. "I don't use terms like 'global warming'. I use terms like 'climate change'. And I try to back things up by really showing them data."

"I look to see that these kids are care-takers of our whole natural world," she said.

That got me thinking: how do you teach your kids about climate change? You don't want to tell your kids the world is in uttter peril… right? But if they ask about climate change, what do you say?

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