New Person of LWON: Emma Marris

We’re so pleased that Emma Marris — author, journalist, interesting thinker, and LWON guest poster — has agreed to join us as a regular contributor. Emma is the author of Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World, and she’s written for National Geographic, Nature, Slate, and other publications. She recently gave an excellent TED […]

Who Killed the Bramble Cay Melomys?

This summer, the Bramble Cay melomys, a reddish-brown rodent that resembles a large mouse, made international news. In mid-June, the Guardian reported that the melomys, last seen in 2009, had been confirmed extinct in its only known habitat, a tiny, isolated coral outcrop in the narrow strait between Australia and New Guinea. “First mammal species wiped […]

This is the Sound of a Forest Changing

The Alexander Archipelago, a 300-mile-long sweep of islands off the southeastern coast of Alaska, is known for its isolation, its heavy rain, and its thick, ancient forests of hemlock, pine, spruce and yellow-cedar. Yellow-cedar, which John Muir called a “truly noble tree,” has long been prized for its fine-grained, butter-colored wood. But over the past century, as average temperatures have risen, […]

Redux: The Long Legacy of a Good Deed

Sombath Somphone, a respected civil-society leader in Laos, was abducted in Vientiane in December 2012 and has not been seen since. As President Obama becomes the first sitting U.S. president to visit Laos, we revisit this post about Somphone, his disappearance, and a long-ago turning point in his life. Two years ago this week, a […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): The Anthropocene

On Monday, at an international meeting of geologists in Cape Town, South Africa, the 35 members of the Anthropocene Working Group summarized their seven years of work. Chief among their preliminary findings is that the current human-dominated chapter in our planet’s history, informally known as the Anthropocene, is geologically real. That’s “real” as in “recorded in the earth’s rock layers.” The report is the latest […]

Toward a Unified Theory of Poohsticks

By the time it arrived at the edge of our campsite, the stream had grown up so that it was almost a river, and, being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly. It was still clear and shallow, but […]

How to Name a Caribou

Few species are more frustrating to taxonomists than the North American caribou. Ranging from the Canadian Arctic to the Great Lakes, caribou vary enormously in size, color, antler shape, habitat, and behavior. Some aren’t much bigger than domestic dogs; others are almost big enough to rub shoulders with a moose. For more than two centuries, […]

Redux: Draw Me a Picture of Nature

The literary critic Raymond Williams once wrote that “Nature is perhaps the most complex word in the language.” It’s a head-scratcher right up there with love, or goodness: We depend on it for survival, but we’re often not quite sure where it is, what it is, or whether we’re a part of it. Jessica Mikels-Carrasco, […]