From climate change-induced super storms to community-decimating earthquakes, when it comes to understanding the occurrences and potential impacts of Earth's geological processes and weather systems we look to the men and women on the ground for their expertise in preparing for the unexpected.
Thomas M. Kostigen is a New York Times bestselling author and award-winning National Geographic writer. Kostigen launched and penned The Climate Survivalist column for USA Today, the Better Planet column for Discover magazine, and is a regular contributor to major publications worldwide. He has written numerous books about the environment and social issues. As a journalist, Kostigen has reported from war zones to the world's wonders across five continents, and appears regularly as a guest in the media.
We caught up with Thomas to talk about his entry into the field of emergency preparation, his interests and passions, and his motivations to enrich the world with preparedness education.
WHAT INITIALLY SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & CLIMATE SURVIVAL, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WRITING AS YOUR MEDIUM?
I have been a professional journalist for my entire career. After a project took me to Africa, where I interacted with rural communities that didn't even have basic survival resources--food, water, electricity--I decided to use my trade to educate others about the importance of resourcefulness and preparedness. People in the developing world live on the frontlines of disasters, largely because of poor infrastructure, communication, and the lack of government resources. As extreme weather and natural disasters hit the developed world with more intensity and frequency, I have taken my messages home. Writing is how I get my messaging out to the world.
HOW DO YOUR PASSIONS OUTSIDE OF EMERGENCY PREP INFLUENCE YOUR WORK?
I travel the world to extreme places and research the biggest challenges facing the world today. This allows me the opportunity to speak with inventors, innovators, and explorers who are looking at radical ways to save the planet. I can then take these solutions home, and--hopefully--relay how they can be put into practice in everyday life.
LOOKING INTO YOUR PAST, WHAT EXPERIENCES DO YOU BELIEVE HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR WORK?
The biggest impact on my work always lies with human interactions. Hearing people's stories, listening to how people have braved a life-changing event, or simply talking about some cool, new gadget or way of looking at life is always inspiring. I could be deep in the Amazon jungle or in the middle of an urban jungle, such as New York City, and the conversations could be about the same things. That's humbling; we humans pretty much go through life--no matter where we live on the planet--in pretty much the same way. So how can we crowdsource our best life practices? Learning those things affects me the most.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT WRITING ABOUT EMERGENCY SURVIVAL, WHAT CAN YOU BE FOUND DOING?
It should come as no surprise that I love the outdoors. I am happiest in nature. I grew up sailing off the coast of Cape Cod and now spend a lot of time hiking, climbing, or camping in the mountains. I also hit the gym pretty much everyday. And if there is a pub in the vicinity, well, I have been known to at least pay it a visit. :)
WHAT’S KEEPING YOU OCCUPIED RIGHT NOW, AND WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU?
I have a new book coming out in March. It's called Hacking Planet Earth, and it's about solutions--radical inventions-- that we can embrace now to set the planet on a better course and thwart or guard us against the effects of climate change. Autopiloted ships that can traverse the oceans and cool seawaters to save marine life; lasers that when shot into clouds can change the weather; stanchions that can save glaciers from melting to prevent sea level rise; even giant space parasols that can block the Sun and cool the planet. Really cool, out there geoengineering solutions. So I am gearing up for a book tour and speaking engagements around the globe to discuss these big solutions for adaptation and resiliency along with the individual steps we can take in our everyday lives.