Cassandra and the Climate Apocalypse

When my mother named me Cassandra, she didn’t know anything about Greek mythology. She had never heard of the princess who prophesied the destruction of Troy. But I inherited some of Cassandra’s attributes all the same. I’m a doom-and-gloom kind of girl. My visions of the future involve illness, poverty, and untimely deaths. Each headache […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): When Han Solo Got Waxed

The latest issue of the journal Environmental History features an article titled “Chest Hair and Climate Change: Harrison Ford and the Making of ‘Lost There, Felt Here.’” Stop snickering! This is a serious thing. At least, I think it’s a serious thing. Section editor Finis Dunaway acknowledges that while “readers were not expecting to find an […]

A wild flower, caged.

About 150 miles northwest of Tahiti lies Raiatea, 65 square miles, and the spiritual center of the Polynesian world. This week, a holy site there, Taputapuatea, was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. Another world-famous marvel on the island is the tiare apetahi, an incredibly rare flower found only on Raiatea, and […]

Redux: Dr. Frankenstein’s Climate

Two hundred and one years ago today, a young writer began a very famous story. Every year, it gets a little more relevant. Between two and three o’clock in the morning on June 16, 1816, during a restless night in a villa on Lake Geneva, eighteen-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin had a waking dream. As the moon […]

Not all stories are words, not all maps are pictures

You know those sounds that slip across the senses until they settle, in the brain, on an association entirely unrelated to their maker? Those sounds that seem to almost synesthetically transform one thing into another? The way noise can be brilliant, or color evokes flavor, or a smell touches old dreams? An unspectacular-looking, fist-sized bird […]

Redux: Coming of Age in a Trash Forest

My friend Taya and I were out at her parents’ country place, about twelve acres in the western foothills of the Cascades. I was maybe eight, visiting for the first time. Taya was taking me on a tour. We were struggling along, as short-legged people do through dense, early successional Northwest forest. She stopped and […]

Redux: When is it time to revise our story?

This post first ran on January 26, 2012. We now have three years in a row that have set records for the hottest year on record, and it comes after a string of previous records.  Today’s post began with a social media status update by my friend Paolo Bacigalupi. Paolo wrote: At what point does a […]

Sketches of Panels

Every year, Johns Hopkins Medicine runs a boot camp for science writers in Washington, D.C. They cover some topic in science. For science writers, it’s a free introduction to a hot area of science (with breakfast, lunch, and tasty snacks). For Hopkins, there’s a chance someone will decide to use one of their experts in […]