National Audubon Society v. Jonathan Franzen

Ghostly Bird Trace on a Window, Photo by Alan Hensel Wikimedia Commons

It’s not clear what the Audubon Society did to piss off Jonathan Franzen. But the Audubon that emerges from Franzen’s essay is a band of once-scrappy conservationists who have grown content to peddle squeaky plush toys and holiday cards; we’ve seized on climate change, apparently, in a last grab at relevance.

In order to gin up that caricature, however, Franzen, who has no journalism experience that I know of, was forced to ignore or actively distort a great deal of inconvenient truth. In fact, the very examples he cites in his piece of the kind of retail, grassroots protections we should be offering to birds (and the very kind that would presumably be subsumed in a wave of climate neurosis) were spearheaded by . . . Audubon.

—From “Friends Like These,” a short response by Mark Jannot at the National Audubon Society to Jonathan Franzen’s New Yorker essay on the organization’s efforts to have bird-safe glass installed at the new Vikings stadium, and climate change’s effects on conservation efforts.