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 […]

The Common Language of Conservation

When marine biologist Julia Lowndes started graduate school in California in 2006, she expected to spend the next several years learning about the behavior of the Humboldt squid, which had recently—and dramatically—expanded its range north along the California coast. But before she learned anything about the squid, she discovered, she had to learn to code.

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 […]

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, […]

Reading Sci-Fi with Astrobioloigist David Grinspoon

David Grinspoon is a comparative planetologist and an astrobiologist. He’s also a big book nerd, and his love for both fiction and nonfiction are proudly on display in his own new book, Earth In Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future. Grinspoon’s book uses insight from the study of the other planets in our solar system […]

Don’t Think of a Mammophant

  Let’s talk about de-extinction. Actually, let’s not. Let’s talk about what the as-yet-unrealized technology known as “de-extinction” really is, which is the creation of hybrid organisms using genetic material from both extinct and extant species. Last month, a team of scientists announced that a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo—”more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits,” […]

The trouble with abundance

There are several things you’re likely to notice if you fly over Southeast Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago on a clear day. If you’re an alpine junky like me, the first will be the snowcapped mountains that stretch seemingly without end from near the coast to the eastern horizon somewhere in Canada, their white-and-gray-tongued glaciers pouring all […]

Wind, the uninvited houseguest

Perhaps 500 yards from my door—up an icy, winding driveway, a short way down a gravel road, beyond barbed wire fences and snow-skirffed pastures and the wind-twisted trunks of piñon and juniper trees—is a barn that shelters two sailboats in the middle of the Colorado desert. I first spotted them on a walk and stopped […]