I Have A Few Questions For These Trees

Last week, in a charming story for the Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance reported that the citizens of Melbourne, Australia, have been sending fan mail to their trees. Yes, people are emailing trees—and once in a while, the trees are emailing back. (“Hello,” wrote one willow peppermint, “I am not a Mr. or a Mrs., as I have what’s called perfect […]

Learning from Rafe

On May 28, on the northwestern outskirts of Tucson, Arizona, biologist Rafe Sagarin went for an evening bike ride. He intended to spend the night at the nearby Biosphere 2 facility, where he hoped to one day build a living model of the Gulf of California. He was, as always, full of plans and ideas—for himself, for his […]

Where the Wind Has No Name

Of all the evocative place words humans have come up with, the words for local winds may be the most varied and most charming. There’s the Albrohos of Portugal, the Gilavar and the Khazri of Azerbaijan, and the Shamal of Iraq. There’s the Cape Doctor of South Africa, the Hawk of Chicago, and the Wreckhouse winds of Newfoundland. […]

The Opposite of Extinction

Last Thursday, a study in Science predicted that if global carbon emissions continue on their current “business-as-usual” trajectory, climate change will extinguish one-sixth of the species on earth. The figure comes with the usual caveats, which you can read about here and here. As a rough estimate of what lies ahead, though, the study is useful—and […]

The Last Word

April 13-17 Ann on a recent Nature study linking dragons and climate change: “The authors recommend the obvious — increasing research in consumer-friendly fire-resistent clothing — and further suggest that monarchs desist from running around conferring knighthoods.” A sharp-eyed commenter notes publication date. Michelle on a disease affecting couples living in tipis and other small, off-the-grid […]

Redux: Not One More Winter in the Tipi, Honey

This post originally ran July 14, 2011.  NOMWITTH, however, hasn’t changed, not one bit. There are a lot of ways to shrink a carbon footprint. Bike instead of drive. Eat low on the food chain. You know the drill. Where I live, in the boondocks of Colorado, a lot of people — myself included, but […]

The Last Word

April 6 – 10 Have you ever had to endure the smug cocktail party contention that “biology is just chemistry, chemistry is just physics, and physics is just math” (and so all of life is reducible to math)? Abstruse Goose demolishes that glib noise with a thought experiment that reverses the formula. Michael Balter’s brontosaurus story […]

We Are Still Arguing About Jonathan Franzen

Since Jonathan Franzen’s essay “Carbon Capture” went live on the New Yorker’s website last week, environmentalists and the journalists who write about them haven’t been able to stop bickering about it. Whether Franzen was wrong-headed or visionary, dumb or prophetic, he clearly touched a nerve when he asked, “Has climate change made it harder for […]