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 […]

Color Your Way to Climate Reality

I often write about subjects that are hard to read about—climate change, extinction—so I think a lot about how to draw people toward information that mostly makes them want to run away. Musician, artist, and programmer Brian Foo has pondered the same problem, and his solution is simple. Present your readers with terrifying data, then ask […]

Litterbug

On Saturday, Earth Day, I went for a run. About a mile in, I came upon a bald, middle-aged man. He wore a leather jacket and a Bluetooth headset. I was perhaps twenty feet from him when he chucked a crumpled plastic bag on the ground. Then he got on his bicycle and started peddling […]

Redux: Dust on our crust

This post first appeared on April 24, 2013. Unfortunately, the problem of dust on snow has not gone away. Since I wrote this post, NASA has gotten involved in studying snow on the Grand Mesa. I wrote about the NASA project for FiveThirtyEight. Spring is a nervous time for skiers and farmers. I’m both of these, […]