Behind the Curve

The Keeling Curve—the sawtoothed upward slope of atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations—may be the world’s most famous scatter plot. The data that form the curve have been accumulating since the 1950s, when scientist Charles David Keeling set up his instruments at a geophysical observatory high on Mauna Loa, one of the massive volcanoes that form the Big […]

The Language of Change

The nature writer Robert Macfarlane is so skilled—so precise, so observant—that he can make an unsuspecting reader long for mudflats. This careful selector of words is also a collector of them: Macfarlane has just published a lovely essay (and a book) about his hoard of “place words,” terms gathered over years of travel in Britain […]

Urban Allies May Save the World

A friend of mine, a fund manager, described his experience of the financial crisis of 2008. His fund was based in one of these mid-town Manhattan office towers they call a Hedge Fund Hotel. In those early days when the crisis set in, my friend could arrive at work relaxed, but then he’d be in an […]

Guest Post: Death of a Fig Tree: My Climate Change

This winter in Baltimore we suffered. We steeled ourselves against record-breaking cold, and our heating bills were scandalous. There was so much snow that the children got tired of sledding. (It snowed on Tax Day, for Pete’s sake.) Months later, the potholes are punishing, and my fig tree is at death’s door. As far as […]

Climate Change: The Anti-Story?

The most recent report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) doesn’t pull any punches. The globe continues to warm, ice continues to melt at an alarming pace, and the seas continue to rise. Climate change isn’t some distant dilemma. It’s already happening. The science is solid, and the problem is urgent. “Nobody on this planet is […]

Voyage of Discovery: Art and the Arctic

Right now at the headquarters of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, here in Washington, D.C, is an art show about climate change in the Arctic. Three local artists worked together on the show, called Voyage of Discovery. I know, art about climate change in the Arctic. It sounds depressing at best and […]

Naturalist Without a Notebook

One of my New Year’s resolutions is not to write in a journal everyday. I’m terrible at it, even though I wished I loved to scribble daily. I can’t even keep up with my Planner Pad. (In fact, I’ve already lost my 2014 edition). That’s not to say that I haven’t occasionally kept a notebook. […]

Too hot for moose

Over the last few weeks, stories of moose die-offs have made the news. The New York Times reported that one moose population in Minnesota has all but vanished and another has fallen by more than half. Similar declines have happened in New Hampshire and British Columbia. While scientists aren’t sure of the cause, they suspect […]