The Svalbard archipelago, midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, is famous for its polar bears, but it is also home to the distinctive (and distinctively adorable) Svalbard reindeer. Shaggy-haired and stubby-legged, the Svalbard reindeer is not only the world’s smallest subspecies of reindeer but also the world’s northernmost herbivorous mammal, and its survival […]
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 […]
When I first published this post, my daughter was six. Now, she’s eight-going-on-nine, and halfway through the Harry Potter series. But on dark and stormy nights, winter or summer, she still feels the pull of A Wrinkle in Time—and I do, too. ______ It was a dark and stormy night. In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, […]
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 […]
Last Sunday afternoon, I spent a couple of hours at a right-wing “free speech” rally in downtown Portland, Oregon. I described parts of the experience in a story I wrote earlier this week, but I’m still thinking about what I heard and saw. The rally, organized by an area group called Patriot Prayer, was held in […]
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.
My eight-year-old daughter is a fourth-generation perfectionist. In my family, the trait is matrilineal, so I know from firsthand experience that it has a few advantages. My daughter is likely to pay her bills on time and use semicolons correctly. She will not be intimidated by details. She will have a certain baseline competence that will make her […]
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 […]