The Long Legacy of a Good Deed

Two years ago this week, a well-known environmental organizer named Sombath Somphone was detained at a traffic stop in downtown Vientiane, Laos, and driven away in a white pickup. He has not been seen or heard from since. You can read a lot more about Somphone, his work in Laos, and his wife’s remarkable efforts to […]

Tesser Well

It was a dark and stormy night. In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, […]

Happy Lady Ada Day

I’m not, in general, huge on holidays. I often wish that those of us in the U.S. would observe the weeks between Halloween and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day with a nice long nationwide nap. But I feel differently about Ada Lovelace Day, founded by British digital-rights activist Suw Charman-Anderson in 2009. Now, every year in mid-October, the world has a chance […]

The Legacy of Lonesome Larry

This story has a happy ending. I promise. Every year before the turn of the last century, some 150,000 sockeye salmon made an epic journey: They traveled from the Pacific Ocean up the Columbia River, hung a right into the Snake, a left into the Salmon, and finally, after swimming upstream for 900 miles, arrived in the clear, icy waters […]

More Energy, Less Freedom

The writer and filmmaker Swain Wolfe spent his earliest years at a tuberculosis sanatarium near Colorado Springs, Colorado, where his father was the director. After World War II, the sanatarium closed, his parents divorced, and his mother moved Wolfe and his sister to a ranch in western Colorado and then, when Wolfe was a teenager, to Montana. […]

The Roads Not Traveled

On September 3, the U.S. Wilderness Act turns 50 years old. The law’s call to protect places “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man” has always been poignant, and our enthusiasm for trammeling seems greater every year. So the Wilderness Act’s half-century mark has occasioned a great deal of handwringing. Does wilderness […]

Follow the Fish

For a landlubber, I’ve been spending a lot of time around fish. Not long ago, I plunged my hands into paddlefish guts for a story about caviar poaching in the Ozarks; last year, I spent several weeks in very fishy places on and around the Mekong River, researching an ongoing project about hydropower development on the […]

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, […]