At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth, with Madeline Ostrander

Tuesday, January 24, 2023 to 7:00pm

Virtual Event

As part of the Boston Public Library's Central Author Talk Series, science journalist and author Madeline Ostrander will discuss her recently published book At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth as part of the Boston Public Library's theme of climate justice activism. Acting as interlocutor for this conversation is Greg M. Epstein, Humanist chaplain at Harvard and MIT, Convener for Ethical Life at MIT's Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life, and New York Times bestselling author. Following their discussion, there will be time for audience Q&A.

Porter Square Books will be supplying books for this event, and all books ordered through them will come with a bookplate signed by the author. Order here, and put in BPLEVENT23 as a coupon code in your order.

About the book

From rural Alaska to coastal Florida, a vivid account of Americans working to protect the places they call home in an era of climate crisis.

How do we find a sense of home and rootedness in a time of unprecedented upheaval? What happens when the seasons and rhythms in which we have built our lives go off-kilter?

Once a distant forecast, climate change is now reaching into the familiar, threatening our basic safety and forcing us to reexamine who we are and how we live. In At Home on an Unruly Planet—a book lauded as "marvelous" by bestselling author Bill McKibben and a work of "searching intelligence and uncommon empathy" by Pulitzer prize-winner Elizabeth Kolbert—science journalist Madeline Ostrander reflects on this crisis not as an abstract scientific or political problem but as a palpable force that is now affecting all of us at home. 

Ostrander offers vivid accounts of people fighting to protect places they love from increasingly dangerous circumstances. A firefighter works to rebuild her town after catastrophic western wildfires. A Florida preservationist strives to protect one of North America's most historic cities from rising seas. An urban farmer struggles to transform a California city plagued by fossil fuel disasters. An Alaskan community heads for higher ground as its land erodes.

She pairs deeply reported stories of hard-won optimism with lyrical essays on the strengths we need in an era of crisis. The book is required reading for anyone who wants to make a home in the twenty-first century.

“A hopeful, urgent, and universal message about our collective ability to face the climate changes we can no longer ignore.”
Kirkus starred review

About the author

Madeline Ostrander is a science journalist and the author of At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth. Her work has appeared in the, The Nation, Sierra Magazine, PBS's NOVA Next, Slate, and numerous other outlets. Her reporting on climate change and environmental justice has taken her to locations such as the Alaskan Arctic and the Australian outback. She's received grants, fellowships, and residencies from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Artist Trust, the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, the Fund for Investigative Journalism, the Jack Straw Cultural Center, the Mesa Refuge, Hedgebrook, and Edith Cowan University in Australia. She is the former senior editor of YES! magazine and holds a master's degree in environmental science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She lives in Seattle with her husband. To learn more, please visit her website:

About the interlocutor

Greg M. Epstein serves as the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, as well as the president of the Harvard Chaplains, Harvard University’s corps of over forty chaplains from more than 20 different religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions. Greg also serves the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as humanist chaplain and as Convener for Ethical Life at the MIT Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life. For nearly two decades, he has built a unique career as one of the world’s most prominent humanist chaplains—professionally trained members of the clergy who support the ethical and communal lives of nonreligious people. To learn more, visit this link:

This program is presented in partnership with the MIT Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life and the Cary Memorial Library.

This program will happen over Zoom webinar. To attend, please register on this link:

Events By Interest

Health/Wellness, Climate & Sustainability

Events By Audience

Public, MIT Community, Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff

Events By School

School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P), School of Engineering (SoE), School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), Sloan School of Management (Sloan), School of Science, Schwarzman College of Computing

Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life
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