S2 E8: What We’ve Learned and What We Can Do

What did we learn about climate change and cultural memory? And what can we do about it? In the final episode of season 2, host Nicole Kang Ferraiolo and producer Lizzi Albert try to answer those questions. They share their biggest takeaways from the season, from climate change’s unequal impacts, to the importance of nuanced disaster narratives, to the necessity of rethinking how we work. The one idea on every guest’s mind? Climate change is everyone’s problem, and we all have a role to play in finding solutions. And this includes heritage and information workers. 

Link to transcript

Sources and References (in order of appearance)

Climate Change Could Displace up to 300 Million People by 2050, Gulrez Shah Azha. Business Insider, December 25, 2017.

As Wildfires, Flooding and Hurricanes Grow More Frequent, Climate Migration Begins, Samantha Harrington. Yale Climate Connections, September 22, 2020.

Summary for Policymakers, IPCC.

Differential Climate Impacts for Policy-Relevant Limits to Global Warming: The Case of 1.5 ℃ and 2 ℃, Carl-Friedrch Schleussner et al. 2016. Earth System Dynamics 7(2): 327–351. 

This Graphic Explains Why 2 Degrees of Global Warming Will be Way Worse Than 1.5, David Roberts. Vox, October 7, 2018.

American Archives and Climate Change: Risks and Adaptation, Tara Mazurczyk, Nathan Piekielek, Eira Tansey, and Ben Goldman. 2018. Climate Risk Management 20.** 

Climate Displacement in Bangladesh, Environmental Justice Foundation.

Study Suggests Buried Internet Infrastructure at Risk as Sea Levels Rise, University of Wisconsin-Madison via Newswise, July 12, 2018.

Just 100 Companies Responsible for 7% of Global Emissions, Study Says, Tess Riley. The Guardian, July 10, 2017. 

Clicking Clean Virgina: The DIrty Energy Powering Data Center Alley, Greenpeace Report, February 13, 2019.

Collections in the Era of the Climate Crisis, Presentation by Casey Davis Kaufman, November 13, 2020, at 5 for 5: Five Years of Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives.

To Be Part of the Climate Solution, We Must Center Communities, (blog), Nicole Kang Ferraiolo and Jodi Reeves Eyre, August 14, 2019.

We Can’t Tackle Climate Change Without You, Mary Annaise Heglar. Wired, April 1, 2020.

Cal Fire: 2020

Redwoods and Material Memory, with Nicole Kang Ferraiolo, (blog) November 19,2020.†

Coast Redwoods Are Our Greatest Ally in a Changing Climate, Sempervirens Fund.

Note: Sources marked by ** are writings by the episode’s guests. Sources marked by † are writings by the season host, Nicole Kang Ferraiolo. 

So what can we do about it? 

Here are some of the ideas mentioned in this episode of things information workers can do in response to the climate crisis, and resources to get you started.  

  1. Use your unique skills as librarians and information workers to give strength to existing movements! (You can find a list of organizations countering climate change here.) 
  2. Care about information outside of your institutions. Make sure that critical climate and environmental data are available (e.g., Data Refuge).
  3. Contribute to climate change education and research (there are lots of resources on the Project ARCC Climate Change Syllabus).
  4. Develop and maintain inventories of critical repositories, heritage, and records (e.g., Repo Data).
  5. Cut back on carbon! Consume less, and use greener infrastructure. In our field this also includes flying less, and collecting less. Some resources: 
  6. Re-evaluate your collecting practices: look for anti-colonial approaches and move away from extractivist mentalities, particularly in moments of trauma. 
  7. Pay attention to power dynamics in your work (e.g., in partnerships, labor relations) and push for more equitable conditions. This includes advocating for more funding for cultural heritage preservation outside of North America and Europe. 
  8. Plan! Plan! Plan! Develop your emergency response and climate adaptation policies, listening to communities about their unique needs. 
  9. Work toward field-wide solutions! Let’s make ideas like a Paris Accords or Green New Deal for Archives a reality! 
  10. Support dramatic climate action outside of the field. Do your part to ensure that communities and their cultures are centered within these larger policy discussions. Understand that climate change is a social justice issue and that many seemingly unconnected issues will be likely exacerbated by it.
  11. Help expand people’s understanding of who a climate expert is, prioritizing community expertise. 
  12. Make sure that we are providing the communities we serve with the resources needed to adapt to the many impacts of the climate crisis and its ripple effects. 
  13. Care about the climate crisis and its impact on cultural memory! Talk about it! “Do what you’re good at and do your best.”

Additional references and recommendations by guests

Our guests were eager to cite and recommend the work others were doing on the climate crisis related issues discussed. Because of the space limits for our episodes, we weren’t able to include the audio clips mentioning everyone. So we’ve created a space here to cite and credit these additional people and projects that guests pointed to as inspiration. 

People doing related work (not mentioned in previous episodes)

  • Laura Alagana
  • Thomas Berry 
  • Madeleine Charney 
  • Matthew Gordon Clark 
  • Casey Davis Kaufman 
  • Carli Lowe 
  • Keith Pendegrass
  • Theresa Polk
  • Walker Samson
  • TK Sangwan
  • Hugh Taylor
  • Tim Walsh
  • Stacie Williams 
  • Sam Winn

Organizations and Projects (not mentioned in previous episodes)

Behind the Mic

Nicole Ferraiolo

Nicole Kang Ferraiolo

Show Host

Nicole Kang Ferraiolo is CLIR’s director of global strategic initiatives. She was previously a program officer for CLIR’s regranting and fellowship programs. Prior to that, Nicole worked at Columbia University where she oversaw several projects including an interdisciplinary research program on global governance that focused in turn on nuclear proliferation, pandemics, religious conflict, and climate change. 

Lizzi Albert

Lizzi Albert


Lizzi Albert is co-producer of Material Memory. She has worked at CLIR since 2012 in a variety of positions and currently serves as its deputy operations officer. In 2016–2017, she co-hosted and co-produced the local theater podcast “Is Anyone Calling This Show?” Lizzi has an M.A. in Acting from the University of Essex and has studied theater in London, Moscow, and New York. 

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