An Arctic Dispatch – The New York Times

Climate-change adaptation can be a difficult subject to discuss. Thinking about how society will adjust to the consequences of climate change seems to smack of defeatism.

The more urgent question, many scientists say, is what the U.S. and the world will to do to minimize the damage. Without aggressive action to reduce carbon emissions over the next decade, that damage has the potential to be horrific.

Still, adaptation will be a big part of the future no matter how severe climate change ends up being. By now, at least 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit of global warming seems guaranteed, and that’s enough to cause disruptive, dangerous changes to local weather patterns, flood levels, agriculture and more. Communities will make changes in response.

“We no longer have the luxury of debating whether to adapt, but we also shouldn’t have rose-colored glasses about the degree to which adaptation can make a difference,” Christopher Flavelle, a Times reporter who covers the climate, told us.

Some places are already taking steps to control the damage from climate change. Miami Beach is using dirt and rocks to raise the ground beneath homes and roads. Washington, D.C., dug a five-mile-long tunnel to stop low-lying neighborhoods from flooding. Phoenix is coating streets with materials that reflect rather than absorb heat from the sun.

Other communities are looking at how to reorient their economies for a hotter future. Our colleague Andrew Kramer recently traveled to Pevek, Russia — a small port town on the Arctic Ocean, 3,500 miles from Moscow, where Andrew is based — to report on an extreme version of climate-induced economic change.

Pevek, the site of a Stalin-era gulag camp, seemed to be another dying town in the Russian hinterlands until the melting of ice sheets began opening the Arctic to shipping. A trip from South Korea to the Netherlands, for example, can be almost two weeks shorter through the Arctic than it is through the Suez Canal. “We are in a new era,” Valentina Khristoforova, a curator at a local history museum, said.

The town is now refurbishing its port, repairing its library and building an esplanade along the Arctic Ocean, as you can read in Andrew’s story. The population has risen about 50 percent, to around 4,500 people.

It’s consistent with President Vladimir Putin’s strategy of using climate change for both economic and geopolitical advantage. Because Russia is a major producer of oil and natural gas — second only to the U.S. — it also has short-term economic reasons to oppose aggressive actions to slow climate change.

In the longer term, however, Russia will almost certainly be unable to avoid costly climate-related destruction, from wildfires, floods and more. “The evidence suggests the risks far outweigh the benefits,” Marisol Maddox, an Arctic analyst at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said, “no matter how optimistic the Russian government’s language.”

For more:

  • Russia has begun censoring the internet, including secretive boxes that allow the authorities to block or slow websites.

  • China Evergrande, the property giant with more than $300 billion of debt, paid bondholders a day before a default deadline, official media reported.

  • “The gangs have more authority than our leaders”: Criminal organizations control more than half of Haiti.

  • Indigenous children in Canada were long forced to attend abusive residential schools. Thousands were never seen again. The Times followed archaeologists searching for their graves.

Mothers in America are isolated and undersupported. The solution may be living together, separately, Judith Shulevitz writes.

Events have vindicated Angela Merkel’s moral heroism on refugees, Michelle Goldberg argues.

Celebrity: If you’re an up-and-coming star, you’ll want him as your agent.

Tuskless: Some elephants have evolved to escape poachers.

Modern Love: He wanted to get serious fast, which felt good until it didn’t.

Advice from Wirecutter: How to choose running shoes.

Lives Lived: Jerry Pinkney’s evocative illustrations brought more than 100 children’s books to life. One of the most revered illustrators in the genre, he was best known for his images of Black characters, history and culture. He died at 81.

When you watch a Wes Anderson movie, there are certain things you can expect. There will be vibrant color palettes, eccentric characters and symmetrical shots. And you will spot at least a few familiar faces: The director has a coterie of actors he returns to again and again, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton and Anjelica Huston. (He first cast Swinton in one of his films, “Moonrise Kingdom,” after she sent him a fan letter.)

Anderson’s new movie, “The French Dispatch,” follows the happenings at a fictional magazine inspired by The New Yorker. Several of the film’s actors, including Swinton and Frances McDormand, spoke to The Times about what life is like on set — exacting during the work day, full of family-style feasts at night — and what keeps them coming back.

“Sometimes you can feel isolated when you make a film, American films especially — the stars are in their trailers,” the actress Léa Seydoux said. “With Wes, he needs a deep connection with his actors, that’s why I think he works with the same people all the time.”

Anderson added: “What I like to do is go to a place and have us all live there and become a real local sort of production, like a little theater company.”

As for the film itself? “It takes some effort to follow along, and you often feel like you’re not getting everything, but that’s part of the enjoyment,” A.O. Scott writes in a review. — Sanam Yar, a Morning writer

The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was validity. Here is today’s puzzle — or you can play online.

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