Redux: A Dead World at Sunset

This was first published in March of 2011. As winter descends upon the sub-Arctic once more, I revisit these moments of awe on a frozen lake. “It may not strike you as a marvel; it would not, perhaps, unless you were standing in the middle of a dead world at sunset, but that was where […]

On My Way to Burning Man

I’ve just returned from Burning Man, a Mad Max bacchanalia in the desert of western Nevada. I went to see what my civilization was up to, what fiery pinnacle we’ve invented. I also wanted to see it in context, which is why my time at this 69,000-person conflagration was only part of a larger journey. […]

The Urban Ocean

Where do you fall on the issue of wind farms at sea? Tidal energy generators? Artificial reefs? Mooring fields? Glass bottles? Old piers? Shipwrecks? Are they junk to be cleared away or are they habitat to be protected? How are they to be categorized, and at what stage in their “useful” lives do they become […]

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 […]

Only I

Smokey Bear Celebrates 70th Birthday and Reminds Americans … “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires”                                 –  Ad Council press release, August 7, 2014 Why me? Why am I the only one who can prevent wildfires? Forest fires were burden enough. I’ve […]

Snark Week: Evil Has a New Name – and Buck Teeth

The sun hangs low over the bayou, wavering in the humid evening horizon. Sweat pours off your face as you struggle see into the underbrush. And suddenly you hear it. A rustling in the bushes that turns your veins to ice. “Please, sweet Jesus,” you whisper, “be something else. Please, not here. Not now.” But […]

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 […]

On the Trail of the Great Tinamou

Three years ago, I spent a while in the rainforest of Panama, for a story. It’s one of those swashbuckling freelancer stories, except—like so many of those—it’s not all that swashbuckling when you get down to the details. I was an hour’s drive (on good roads) from an international airport. I was staying in a […]