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

Madeline Ostrander is an environmental journalist and the author of At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth. Named one of Kirkus Review’s 100 best nonfiction books of 2022, Unruly Planet tells the stories of four American communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. A vivid and deeply reported work of “searching intelligence and uncommon empathy,” in the words of Pulitzer-prize-winner Elizabeth Kolbert, the book reflects on what it means to find strength and resilience in this era of upheaval and transition.

Ostrander is a 2023-24 Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT. Her work has appeared in the The Atlantic, The NewYorker.com, The Nation, Sierra Magazine, PBS’s NOVA Next, Slate, High Country News, Audubon, and numerous other outlets. She’s appeared as a guest on a wide range of public radio programs—from Baltimore and Louisville to Salt Lake City and San Francisco—as well as PBS’s The Open Mind. 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.

Ostrander also teaches narrative journalism, science-writing, essay-writing, and nonfiction at Seattle’s Hugo House and has offered workshops at numerous other venues, including the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program at MIT the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre in Western 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.

Madeline's Featured Titles

At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth

Henry Holt and Co. |

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, 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. She 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.

Ostrander 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.


The Power of Home in a Time of Crisis

How do we find a sense of home in a time of unprecedented upheaval? Can we protect the places and communities we love from increasingly dangerous circumstances?

In this talk, Ostrander reflects on how to reckon with climate change as a palpable force that is now affecting all of us at home. She offers vivid accounts of communities that have journeyed through fires, floods, and other crises and people who have learned how to rebuild, prepare, and plan—and how to reimagine the future. She distills a series of insights about what it takes to find resilience in a time of crisis. Optional extended workshop: Ostrander works with participants to brainstorm what they value most in their own communities and consider how they might reach out to others who share their concerns.


Kitchen-Table Talk About Climate Crisis

It’s a common misconception—debunked by psychologists—that others around us care less environmental issues than we ourselves do. But the myth keeps us silent—afraid to start an argument or raise uncomfortable questions. How do we talk about climate change as a kitchen-table issue? Start at home. Ostrander illustrates how through stories from politically divided communities that have found common ground to face environmental challenges.


Facing Ecological Grief and Anxiety, Finding Refuge and Resilience

According to the American Psychological Association, more than two-thirds of Americans feel anxious about the climate crisis, and internationally, three-quarters of young adults and teens are fearful about the future. How do we face our fears and grief over the state of the world and still find the means to take action and fight to protect what matters? This talk reflects on what scientists and philosophers say about handling grief and angst: it’s possible to find strength through community and face what scares us. Optional extended workshop: Ostrander leads participants through a series of writing exercises and discussions to process grief and anxiety and seek both solace and empowerment.


Climate Solutions from the Grassroots

In the fight against climate catastrophe, “many of the most ambitious strides have come from the grassroots, from the marchers and protesters,

the small-town mayors, the artists and teachers and musicians, the firefighters and farmers and scientists, the people who have their hands in the dirt, the people who are able to reimagine how to live,” writes Ostrander in her book, At Home on an Unruly Planet. Ostrander has spent nearly 15 years reporting on breakthroughs that have emerged from frontline and environmental justice communities. In this talk, Ostrander describes how listening to these communities is vital to understanding how to make political, cultural, and economic transitions away from fossil fuels and toward sustainability. We’ll talk about how such communities are advocating for stronger federal and state climate policies, building collective strength to face down the fossil fuel industry, and launching groundbreaking grassroots initiatives in a time of climate emergency. (This talk can also be organized as a panel discussion to include a range of additional voices from the grassroots.)


Telling Stories about Climate

How do you reach beyond science, data, and projections and tell the story of climate change to compel, motivate, and enlighten others? Do we need new language, narratives, and plotlines for an era of climate crisis, and what can we learn from the great storytellers, artists, and authors? In this workshop, Ostrander helps scientists, scholars, writers, community members, environmental professionals, activists, and others find the words to convey their own experiences, hopes, and concerns about climate change through vivid and engaging storytelling.

MetcalfInstitute | Book Talk with Madeline Ostrander and Christine Woodside

Seattle Channel | “At Home on an Unruly Planet” explores rootedness in a time of upheaval

Powell’s Books | Madeline Ostrander presents At Home on an Unruly Planet, in conversation with Michelle Nijhuis

Politics and Prose | P&P Live! Madeline Ostrander — At Home on an Unruly Planet – with Laura Helmuth

Madeline’s Articles, Essays, and Other Writing

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Kirkus Review’s 100 Best Nonfiction Books of 2022
2019 GAP Award

Received grants, fellowships, and residencies from:
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Artist Trust
USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism
Fund for Investigative Journalism
Jack Straw Cultural Center
Mesa Refuge
Edith Cowan University in Australia

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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