Asian American & Pacific Island voices on climate

The newsletter for people "woke" on carbon and climate

(image: Kathy Jetnil-Kijner)

Issue No. 76

Welcome to the latest issue of Carbon Creed - a curated newsletter for people “woke” on carbon and climate. 

Asian American Pacific Island invisibility is real.

Communities of color are often left out of policy discussions entirely especially in the context of climate justice. For AAPI communities specifically, the complexity and diversity of the community is rarely conveyed in mainstream media let alone discussed by the environmentalist movement.

Yet, we know that climate justice is deeply related to AAPI struggles. Lao, Hmong and other AAPI communities in feel the impacts of refinery emissions in northern California. Vietnamese refugees and immigrants on the Gulf coast who relied on shellfishing and shrimping have had to make new livelihoods due to hurricanes and warming waters leading to declines in shellfish populations. Bangladeshi migrants are leaving their home country in large numbers as sea level rise impacts their coasts. The Marshall Islands are expected to be underwater in the next couple of decades due to sea level rise and unprecedented climate change fueled storms, like Cyclone Pam and the island nation of Vanuatu, are increasingly common in the Pacific.

In this issue of Creed, we want to recognize the many ways that AAPI leaders and voices are taking action on the climate crisis and demanding justice for impacted communities. We hope you enjoy this issue and learn something new about these fascinating cultures during AAPI heritage month.

If you have an opinion on any topic covered in this newsletter, please feel free to send me an email at 

Thank you for your viewpoint and the value of your time.

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Climate quotes and sayings that will inspire you

(image: Chen Qiufan)

“If we continue to fall into the trap of consumerism and blindly indulge in newer, faster, more expensive industrial products, one day we may face trash that is nontransferrable, unavoidable, and unrecyclable.” ~ Chen Qiufan, sci-fi author, writer

Credo: Economic growth is not the ONLY answer.

“Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.” ~ Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet

Credo: Live your carbon truth. Budget first, offset last.

“Two raindrops do not make a pool.” ~Nigerian Proverb

Credo: When funding climate change, go bold or go home.


(image: Vandana Shiva)

13 Asian Diasporic “Nature and Climate” Writers You Should Know

Asian and Asian diasporic folks have been contributing to the growing body of academic writing, poetry, fiction, and reporting on the environment for a while now, breaking the mold of what it means to relate to the natural world by doing so through the lens of migrants, children of immigrants, third-culture kids, and Global South communities on the front lines of the climate crisis.

For AAPI Heritage Month, we’d like to recommend 13 incredible Asian and Asian diasporic nature and environment writers. From an environmental historian who wrote a memoir about her journey through the mountains of Taiwan to reclaim her ancestral past, to a Native Hawaiian’s essays calling for the protection of Indigenous land from the expansion of corporate control and the American empire, these authors will open your eyes to new, critical perspectives on the environment, fostering cross-cultural understandings that’ll remind you that our hope for a sustainable future is universal. 

  1. Sonia Shah 

Sonia Shah is an award-winning Indian American journalist who has written about science, politics, and human rights for outlets such as The Nation, PBS Newshour, and Mother Jones. Although she was raised in New York by parents who practiced medicine, she frequently visited Mumbai and Bangalore to see her working-class family, piquing her desire to investigate the ways in which inequality operates within and between societies. 

  1. Anita Sethi 

Manchester-born writer and journalist Anita Sethi draws creative inspiration from the natural world. On top of her writing on culture and environment for outlets like BBC Wildlife, The Guardian, and The Observer, Sethi’s nature writing has been anthologized in collections including Seasons (2016), Seaside Special: Postcards From the Edge (2018), and the upcoming collectionWomen on Nature (2021). 

  1. Arthur Sze 

Born in New York City, Arthur Sze is a second-generation Chinese American poet whose work transcends genre. An author of 11 books of poetry, many of which appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The American Poetry Review, Sze is an expert observer of the natural world, writing vivid, lyrical prose at “the intersection of Taiost contemplation, Zen rock gardens, and postmodern experimentation” 

  1. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing 

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing is a Chinese American anthropologist whose research lies at the nexus of feminist studies, the Anthropocene, and globalization. An author of multiple ethnographies, such as Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection (2004), which highlights the communities that comprise the labor supply of global natural resource markets, Tsing’s fascinating research has now come to the forefront of anthropological inquiry. 

  1. Vandana Shiva 

Known as an “environmental hero” Indian writer, scientist, activist, and eco-feminist Vandana Shiva is one of the most influential environmental leaders of our time. Her activism began in 1991, when she became a vocal critic against the Asian green revolution (a modern, scientific approach to address the widening Asian food crisis in the '60s), which favored large-scale industrialized food production.

  1. Arundhati Roy 

Indian writer and environmental and human rights activist Arundhati Roy is one of the world’s most salient voices of our current moment. An award-winning novelist and prolific essayist, Roy’s unapologetic commitment to systemic change bleeds through her prose. She is most known for her fearless, controversial essays criticizing the Indian government’s role in perpetuating the nation’s political, social, and environmental injustices against marginalized communities—especially farmers, Adivasi, Dalits, and other groups on the lower rung of its caste system. 

  1. Chen Qiufan 

Born in Shantou, a town in the Guangdong Province near Guiyu, the largest electronic waste site in the world, popular Chinese science fiction writer Chen Qiufan draws literary inspiration from the ways in which humans alter the environment. He is the author of the award-winning book Waste Tide (2013) set in a dystopian future China. In addition to authoring Waste Tide, Qiufan is a prolific writer for print and digital magazines, publishing over 30 short stories of speculative fiction in outlets like ClarkesworldSlate, and China’s Harper's Bazaar. His second novel, AI 2041: Ten Visions for our Future, comes out in fall 2021. 

  1. Kazim Ali

While professor and poet Kazim Ali may not be an environmental writer in the conventional sense, his relationship to the earth is a prevalent theme in his work. Born in the United Kingdom to Muslim parents of Indian, Iranian, and Egyptian descent and raised in Canada and the US, Ali never felt like he belonged to a particular place. An author of 18 books, Ali probes questions of history’s role in identity. His reflections on alienation and the environment are deeply explored in his most recent book, Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water (2021), a memoir that takes Ali back to Jenpeg, Canada, where he immigrated as a child. 

  1. Bonnie Tsui 

Bonnie Tsui is a Hong Kong–born, New York–raised Chinese American journalist who writes stories on climate change, the environment, and culture, ranging from the shark fin trade in Hong Kong to the plight of Cal Fire pilots in the age of the megafire. Looking to explore humanity’s relationship to water more deeply, Tsui wrote Why We Swim (2020). In the book she tells the stories of Olympic champions, modern-day Japanese samurai swimmers, and even Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, an Icelandic fisherman who survived a shipwreck after swimming six hours back to shore in hypothermia-inducing water.

  1. Jessica Lee 

Jessica Lee is a Taiwanese, British, and Canadian nature writer and environmental historian who is fascinated by environmental aesthetics and botanical history. She is also the founding editor of The Willowherb Review, a digital platform that amplifies nature writing by emerging and established writers of color. In her latest book, Two Trees Make a Forest: Travels Among Taiwan's Mountains & Coasts in Search of My Family's Past (2020), Lee casts a critical gaze upon the colonial explorers who shaped our understanding of the land as an attempt to highlight how geographical forces are intertwined with our family stories. 

  1. Khairani Barokka 

Khairani Barokka is a London-based Indonesian writer, poet, and interdisciplinary artist whose work centers disability, decolonization, and the environment. In Ultimatum Orangutan (2021), her second and latest poetry collection, Barokka examines the state of human existence in the age of the Anthropocene, drawing connections between climate change, sexuality, violence, nature, desire, and the body. Translating to "people of the forest" in Indonesian, Ultimatum Orangutan offers a raw, provocative glimpse into how colonialism fuels environmental injustice in Indonesia through the exploitation of humans, landscapes, animals, and ecosystems.

  1. Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio 

Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio is a kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiian) academic, activist, and poet who studies and writes about identity, generational trauma, and cultural resilience. At 18 years old, President Barack Obama invited her to perform a poem at the White House titled “Kumulipo,” a story about the loss of Hawaiian identity in the wake of American empire. Since then, she’s dedicated her life to fighting to preserve Hawaiian culture through the protection of land and Mother Earth. Her debut book, Remembering Our Intimacies: Mo’olelo, Aloha, ʻĀina, and Ea, which translates to “myth, love of the land, and sovereignty,” respectively, will be available for purchase in September 2021. 

  1. Craig Santos Perez 

Scholar, poet, and environmentalist Craig Santos Perez is an Indigenous Chamoru (Chamarro) from the Pacific Island of Guam. He is also an English professor at the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa, who teaches creative writing, eco-poetry, and Pacific literature. A scholar of many literary talents, he is the coeditor of five literary anthologies, author of two spoken word poetry albums as well as five books of poetry. His latest, 2020’s Habitat Threshold (winner of a gold Nautilus Book Award) is an experimental poetry collection that explores the ecological plight of his homeland—from the impacts of environmental injustice to the ravages of global capitalism—and challenges readers to critically reimagine what a sustainable future may look like. 

[This post is adapted from the originals written by Aaaron Mok for Sierra]




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