The day I tried to love ticks

There’s a certain category of mundane but distinctly unpleasant discovery: The blueberries you just mixed in your oatmeal explode mold into your mouth at 6 a.m. You read that Donald Trump won the Nevada Republican caucuses. You roll over in bed to find a tick lodged midriff-deep in your shoulder, wiggling about with a tenacity […]

Redux: Climate Change: The Anti-Story?

This interview with Radiolab’s senior editor (also my husband) focuses on why the show hasn’t done a story on climate change. It originally ran on May 22, 2014. Since then, Radiolab host Jad Abumrad has spoken the words “climate change” on air . . . as part of an episode on nihilism. Progress? (The show is actually one of my very […]

Guest Post: How to Navigate a Rising Sea

When Alson Kelen was young, he used to lie at night against his father’s arm, on an island where there were no lights and no cars. He listened to waves slapping against wet sand, the breeze shaking the palm fronds, the delicate crackling of a coconut shell fire. As the purple-blue evening gave way to night, […]

Let’s stop pretending we give a damn about climate change, 2015 edition

In 2011, I wrote about how little that year’s climate conference had accomplished. The latest edition of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change just wrapped up in Paris over the weekend with a historic agreement. Nearly 200 nations acknowledged the importance of keeping global temperatures from rising […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]