More Energy, Less Freedom

The writer and filmmaker Swain Wolfe spent his earliest years at a tuberculosis sanatarium near Colorado Springs, Colorado, where his father was the director. After World War II, the sanatarium closed, his parents divorced, and his mother moved Wolfe and his sister to a ranch in western Colorado and then, when Wolfe was a teenager, to Montana. […]

Dusting Off Metaphors

As a science writer, I trade in metaphors. It’s not just how many dump trucks to fill the Grand Canyon or how close whale intestines would get to the moon if stretched out – that’s amateur hour. No, professional metaphors are the ones you barely notice, they are so woven into the text. Better yet, […]

Guest Post: The Wine Grapes of Westeros

Thanks to HBO’s Game of Thrones, I’ve become engrossed by George R. R. Martin’s remarkable setting that sometimes feels more like medieval historical fiction than fantasy. It’s the first time I’ve admired a fantasy setting in years. Its gray-shaded characters and the complex society of Westeros, where most of the story takes place, brings a relatable […]

Learning from the Tubeworm

This story, I promise, will end with giant deep-sea tubeworms like the beauties above. Please bear with me while I get there via the Colorado River. I’m one of the nearly 40 million people who depend on the Colorado for water, and for most of my adult life I’ve heard about (and reported on) the bureaucratic […]

Galápagos Monday: Southern Inhospitality

This is the second installment of a six-week series about my recent trip to the Galápagos. You can read my first post, about tortoises and donkeys, here. At dawn on June 6, more than 30 years after Lynn was chasing tortoises at the top of Alcedo, our boat anchored near the volcano’s base in Urbina Bay. By […]

The Lorax in the Anthropocene

Late last year, I wrote about the dominance of the tragic “Lorax narrative” in environmental reporting. Journalists Sara Peach and Keith Kloor have since examined Lorax-ness in climate-change coverage, and I’ve been collecting climate stories that draw on other archetypal narratives (suggestions welcome). The discussion has made me wonder: How would Dr. Seuss himself tackle climate […]

Old Weather & Citizen Science

Galaxy Zoo – the citizen science project with hundreds of thousands of citizens classifying galaxies, catching supernovae, mapping the moon, finding solar storms, and so on far into the night – has sprouted a new project called Old Weather.  The reason old weather is more interesting than, say, old socks, is that yesterday’s weather is […]