Submitted by npr t3_118ahjw in worldnews

Hi, I'm Ari Shapiro. Over more than 20 years at NPR, I’ve reported from above the Arctic Circle and aboard Air Force One. I’ve covered wars in Ukraine, Iraq, and Israel, and I’ve filed stories from dozens of countries and most of the 50 states. Last October, I set off on the most ambitious reporting project of my career. My team and I spent three weeks traveling from Senegal to Morocco to Spain, trying to connect the dots across three of the biggest stories of our time: climate change, global migration, and the rise of far-right political leaders.

I’ll start answering questions at 1PM Eastern. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram.




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dieyoufool3 t1_j9fz8n5 wrote

What was an overarching theme you noticed across your travels for your reporting that may not be receiving the attention it deserves or that you want to specifically highlight?

(Thank you for doing this! Huge NPR fan.)


npr OP t1_j9g7klv wrote

I think many people still view climate change as a future threat. It was really clear in our reporting that this is something happening right now. Of course that's very apparent in the city of Saint-Louis, where we did a lot of our reporting in Senegal. But even in the strawberry fields of Huelva, Spain, farmers told us that the harvest used to begin in February and it now begins in December. Sneak preview: I just interviewed the author Jake Bittle about his forthcoming book, "The Great Displacement," for All Things Considered. He documents the lives of people displaced by climate change in the United States. And he found them all over the country...from droughts in Arizona to floods in Houston. This isn't a future threat; it's happening right now.


thorpeedo22 t1_j9fyyks wrote

What is the common thread you see that helps far-right political leaders jump into power and gain traction? I believe it is use of social media/misinformation and fear, but love to hear your thoughts.


npr OP t1_j9g6h34 wrote

There are lots of commonalities - the writer Moises Naim talks about some of them in his very smart book, “The Revenge of Power: How Autocrats Are Reinventing Politics for the 21st Century.” But one Spanish activist we met in Madrid made a point that stuck with me. She told methe far right is gaining power by telling a story about community, and stories about community have power. The far right tells a story of "us" against "them" - outsiders coming to harm our community. She believes that the only successful response will be a different kind of story about community.


dopef123 t1_j9m7ehf wrote

I think that story will be hard to write because many of the migrants they're taking in turn to crime or do not assimilate because of cultural differences. I personally don't see a great story coming from all of this. Just another cycle of human misery and change.


Boat_Worker t1_j9fzcp4 wrote

What are the local attitudes towards climate change in the countries you’ve visited?


npr OP t1_j9g7sdz wrote

The person I've probably quoted most when I talk about this project of Kayly Ober of Refugees International, who called climate change a "vulnerability multiplier." She meant that it exacerbates other factors, such as corruption and poverty, that make life difficult to sustain. So people we met in our reporting were all very aware of climate change. But in the same breath, they would talk about the pressures of overfishing, or the difficulty of earning a living during the pandemic. Climate change is rarely the only force in someone's decision to abandon their home, but it is often the final straw.


npr OP t1_j9gca4w wrote

Thank you so much for all of your questions! After everything that we invested in putting this project together, it's really gratifying to see the way folks have responded to it. You can find all of our stories from Senegal, Morocco, and Spain here. This project involved more people than I can thank here, but I want to especially shout out our photographer Ricci Shryock, whose images make up the backbone of our immersive story about Saint-Louis and our epic journey connecting climate change to migration to the rise of the right.


mister-jesse t1_j9fy5na wrote

No questions, just a fan and always enjoyed listening to you on WAMU in DC. Keep up the good work and credible news stories and awareness. Looking forward to others questions and answers:)


npr OP t1_j9g5adl wrote

Thank you so much! It's a cliche but it's true - reporting projects like this one are only possible because of...say it with me now...listeners like you


e_subvaria t1_j9gdiv0 wrote

I’m happy to associate your face to your voice!


progress18 t1_j9g1251 wrote

Which do you prefer: the RE20 or the U87?

Aside from that, what has been the biggest challenge in trying to cover those three biggest stories?


npr OP t1_j9harx9 wrote

A tech nerd! I defer to my producer and engineer colleagues on this one. When I'm in the field on my own, I usually use an RE-50 mic...but this is mostly because it's what NPR gave me at the very beginning of my career (more than 20 years ago), and it is indestructible. Also because I fear change.


DoremusJessup t1_j9g1acc wrote

Did you find a connection between climate change and the rise of far-right autocratic governments?


npr OP t1_j9g8zr5 wrote


BZ852 t1_j9igj0q wrote

To be honest; it was a good read, but the argument felt unconvincing.

The main evidence for far right leaders rising over climate refugees was a single quote from one leader complaining that these are economic migrants.

This is after the bulk of the article refers to the economic welfare of the Senegalese being harmed by overfishing, and them going to Europe to support their families; which does genuinely sound like economic migration -- there's no evidence linking overfishing to climate change (rather than simply boilerplate corruption and poor stewardship that we expect from poorer nations); and the argument about crop harvesting durations doesn't explain whether a changed harvest period is harming the Spanish farms, or wether the season is now longer or shorter.

I am genuinely curious here -- is Senegal not undergoing economic growth, are the opportunities for people shrinking, not growing, are the causes of that linked to climate change, and are people fleeing these countries as a result of this, or just simply because they're seeking a better life in general?

The evidence to the contrary looks strong; Senegal is undergoing strong growth in GDP (15%/year?), Median income (doubled between 2011 and 2018, inflation adjusted), and has historically low employment at 3.72% (2021).


dopef123 t1_j9m7vki wrote

I think part of the truth is that they were simply trying to mix all the hot topics in that area. Immigration, global warming, far right. It's like hitting every dopamine button of fear for people in Europe.

Yet reporters lack the statistical and scientific background to actually tie any of this together in a concrete way that means anything. The fact is anyone can interview the right people and put together some compelling story that may or may not have much to do with the actual reality for the average person there.

Such a huge percentage of news uses bad stats or shitty arguments that don't make a ton of sense. They should stick to straight basic facts rather than trying to weave these big narratives.


GrandpasJimJams t1_j9hlake wrote

Wow you managed to confirm the assumptions you already held. How scientific


Creature_0f_the_n1gh t1_j9fy588 wrote

Hi Ari! Love what you do. What was the most surprising of your findings during this reporting assignment?


npr OP t1_j9g4ona wrote

Before we started the trip, I imagined the movement from Senegal to Europe to be one-directional. I was surprised at how many people in Senegal either had work visas that allowed them to go back and forth, or had spent time in Spain before being deported. To Senegalese people we met, Spain was not some distant unreachable land of their imagination. Folks in Senegal were surrounded by people who'd been to Spain. Some had built very good lives for themselves there; others struggled before being forced to leave; and some even came home because they decided that life in West Africa is better than in Europe, despite the challenges.


ontrack t1_j9gg8rh wrote

I met a Senegalese guy on the beach in Dakar and it turns out he was fluent in Spanish. I asked him where he learned it snd he replied, "in prison in Spain". He was a trafficker who spent 3 years in prison in Spain and they offered free lesson in Spanish while incarcerated.


loopyhawk t1_j9fz5ci wrote

Thanks Ari!

With the never ending whirlwind of news that is, how do you go about taking leave? Do you find it difficult to just take time off even though news is happening everywhere all at once?

Back to you!


npr OP t1_j9g6k53 wrote

Fun question! For more than a decade now I've used my vacation time to tour with a band called Pink Martini as a guest singer. I've been all over the world with them and recorded one or two songs on each of their recent albums. I also created a two-man cabaret show with the star of stage and screen Alan Cumming. We're performing it at the Cafe CarlyleApril 5-15 if you want to stop by!


King_of_Ooo t1_j9iy3nm wrote

Sure sounds like you covered the NPR bingo card


lemonyonce t1_j9ga9y2 wrote

Hi Ari! As an African living in the US I appreciate you guys reporting on this subject given the disproportionate effect climate change and migration are having in Africa and other non-western countries who did little to contribute to the problem.

My question is, do far-right politicians in Europe and the authorities exhibiting racism in places such as Morocco know the true situation that immigrants and refugees are running away from? Or are they of a mind that the immigrants risking their lives trying to get to Europe are simply going there to take advantage of "benefits" that they "don't deserve"?

I ask this because the way immigrants, especially black immigrants, are treated it is as if we aren't human. Ukrainians are rightly welcomed in and around Europe because Europeans understand the circumstances that they are going through and they have empathy for them. But for Africans going through similar trials and tribulations, whether it's war, famine or climate chnage the same grace isn't afforded to them. So do Europeans and Morrocans fully understand what is happening in places such as Senegal that is prompting young men and women to leave everything they've ever known or do they just see them as leachers and parasites invading their respective countries?

Thank you for any asnwer!


npr OP t1_j9hahtv wrote

We visited a town in Southern Spain called Palos de la Frontera just after the day that the US calls either Indigenous People's Day or Columbus Day. We didn't see Spain making any over effort to re-assess the legacy of colonialism in the way the US has. Colonialist attitudes can be hard to uproot. Put another way - racism is real. In Spain, the population is overwhelmingly white. European politicians have a lot to gain by portraying people from Africa as invaders. But of course this isn't unique to Spain, or even to Europe. Donald Trump began his first presidential campaign with the racist claim that Mexico was sending rapists to the United States. One of his most frequent applause lines as president was that he would build a wall along the southern US border. One reason we wanted to do this project is because these themes are playing out all over the world. To me, whether political leaders believe their talking points is almost less important than the impact those policies are having on the world.


lemonyonce t1_j9ixtys wrote

That last point is very well put! Thank you for taking the time to answer, I appreciate it. Journalists are the lifeblood of democracy keep up what you're doing!


Mob1lis_in_mobil1 t1_j9mu0ve wrote

Isn’t immigration from Africa basically inevitable due to the amount of corruption/mismanagement/wealth disparities mean that in many places they simply aren’t going to support the sheer number of people being born…?

Just like Latin America: very high birth rates and people leaving for better opportunities elsewhere.


FillLoose t1_j9n6zx9 wrote

If I understood your statement correctly, Spain is one of the European countries that think of Africans as invaders. Kind of ironic considering the Spanish Conquistadors culled the native populations (Aztecs, Mayans, Inca, etc.) of what is now Central America and South American many centuries ago.

Keep up the GREAT work Ari Shapiro!


Less_Service4257 t1_j9jpls8 wrote

Western Europe generally opposes immigration from Eastern Europe. Even with massive pro-Ukraine media coverage, grudging acceptance is based on a) immigrants being mainly women and children since fighting-age males are conscripted, b) the expectation they'll go back once the war ends.

You pretty much have the situation backwards - as a general rule, the worse a country is, the less supportive people become of free travel, for reasons I assumed were obvious.


AbuelitasWAP t1_j9g20zl wrote

Is there any hope for the future?


Georgep0rwell t1_j9gp8ov wrote

Stop watching the liberal media.

Your life will improve dramatically.


AbuelitasWAP t1_j9grnxp wrote

Lol 'liberal media'. Sure, If I just turn a blind eye to the problems of the world and utilize my privilege to shield myself from those problems, I'll probably be happier. Worked for the boomers!


XXendra56 t1_j9gydb0 wrote

Exactly the feelings of the Right , ignore the world’s problems or anyone else that doesn’t look like them and focus on their privilege and victimhood .


Georgep0rwell t1_j9iks6f wrote

We live better now than kings and queens did 100 years ago.


AggressiveSkywriting t1_j9jfsab wrote

Who does?

Everyone? You?

The person working two jobs trying not to lose their apartment?

Sounds more like they have more in common with the peasants of ye olden times than kings. Kings a hundred years ago (1923, hello?) lived pretty fucking swanky lives.


Georgep0rwell t1_j9js20j wrote

Kings and Queens didn't have hot showers, central air conditioning, cars, TVs, access to dental care, washing machines, indoor plumbing, toilet paper, soap, grocery stores, etc., etc., etc.

It's the best time to be alive in the history of the world.

But if you want to walk around like some ignorant, pessimistic, loser, have at it!


AggressiveSkywriting t1_j9jymsm wrote

You do know that hot showers have been a thing for like two hundred years, right?

Kings and Queens absolutely had access to hot showers 100 years ago. And indoor plumbing, soap, groceries, etc. The car had been invented for nearly two decades!

What in the world are you babbling about? It's wild that you call me ignorant when you seem to have zero grasp on history.

Also dismissing crises/problems we face in the current times because technology is better than X years ago is an absolutely fallacious, childish take.


Georgep0rwell t1_j9kdr7d wrote

Denial of reality.

There has never been a better time to be alive!

By the way, thank capitalism for all the material wealth and conveniences we enjoy.


Georgep0rwell t1_j9ikvkx wrote

We live better now than kings and queens did 100 years ago.

But if you want to be Debbie Downer....I can't help you.


Educational_Hurry951 t1_j9g42uj wrote

Is any place particularly safer from climate change and why?


npr OP t1_j9g8jw4 wrote

Demographers, insurance companies, and others have made efforts to answer this question. Buffalo, New York, is one of the places that has pitched itself as a haven from climate displacement. I'm not an expert in this, but my impression is that people are mostly making educated guesses and nobody really knows for sure.


Georgep0rwell t1_j9mx81d wrote

You know why they switched from global warming to climate change...right?


KoreanThighLover t1_j9jipaa wrote

Any reason why you didn't cover the rise of far-left political leaders?


Twilight1234567 t1_j9fylze wrote

How do you mentally stay sane while seeing so much pain and destruction in the world??


npr OP t1_j9g61qw wrote

Everywhere I go, I find stories that give me hope. In Senegal, these hip hop artists talked about giving "young people weapons to combat the system, to combat poverty." At the UN climate summit in Glasgow, a young Samoan activist named Breanna Fruean taught me the refrain, "We are not drowning; we're fighting." The artist Taylor Mac once told me that things are cyclical, but you can always find people fighting to make the world better. Those are the people I look for in my reporting.


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GroovyJungleJuice t1_j9gqkay wrote

Love hearing Christians advocate against being Christlike. Sad that you are in the majority of American Christians who would not lift a finger to help someone in need


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Doenerwetter t1_j9iayj1 wrote

You're overcomplicating it. The government of any country is the sum total of the will of the people that make up the country. If your will isn't being represented by the actions of the country you're in, it probably means most people think differently from you.

Government is also never a static thing, and to cling to that idea because you're butthurt about most people wanting to help other people out is delusional.

Most people in the US struggle daily for survival, and as the power shifts towards those people again and away from the oligarchs, the use of collective power will naturally shift towards forms of aid to other people, and away from robbing them blind for the benefit of the few. That's why these stories resonate with most of us, and make you uncomfortable.


IAMInRecovery t1_j9g0zqp wrote

What's the most important thing you've learned on your journey that people from the global north may not be aware of?


Dsr89d t1_j9iew7k wrote

I’m happy to have stumbled onto this late at night before bed, I can’t wait to dig into this when I have some free time. You’re not at all what I imagined you to look like after years of listening to your voice on WPLN.

Thank you for all that you do, if you’re ever in the Nashville area I’d love to pour you a drink or two!


Kvothealar t1_j9impnd wrote

I realize the AMA is over, but here's to hope.

If there's one key takeaway you want everybody to take away from your research and all the work you've done, what would it be?


Itchy_Method_710 t1_j9iyf3f wrote

How's is the far-right in Spain affecting spanish politics in the question of global migration?

And what does the spanish far-right do that majority in r/worldnews would condemn?


Mentalfloss1 t1_j9fzmd1 wrote

And you sing with Pink Martini.


SwvellyBents t1_j9g0kk2 wrote

And he does it very well!

I wonder if he quips "and you don't look like I imagined you either!" at every show!


Mentalfloss1 t1_j9ggyv4 wrote

I’ve seen him live and he’s slim, graceful, attractive, and a natural performer. 🙂


BaronVonNumbaKruncha t1_j9g6io7 wrote

I expect far right leaders to use the fear of outsiders to limit climate migration. Did you see evidence that supported this?

Thanks for the AMA. I've always enjoyed your work.


BenGordonLightfoot t1_j9g93vn wrote

How does migration affect politics within West Africa? Do any parties there focus on border enforcement or anti-migrant policies?


ontrack t1_j9gfpca wrote

I lived in Senegal for 11 years and spent 3 years in other west African countries. There isn't a lot of xenophobia in the region. I occasionally heard a bit of grumbling at the number of Guineans in Senegal but there was no targeting of them by anyone. I never heard any political party address it either.

Cote d'Ivoire is one country that has had issues with xenophobia, particularly directed at Burkinabé, and this issue contributed to a period of instability in the country.

Many people in the region hold negative views of Nigerians but afaik they have not been officially targeted except that they often get extra scrutiny from police.


pichael288 t1_j9k3de8 wrote

Dam, got here too late. I appreciate the work you do though man, and all of what npr does.


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