By Jim Morris | Not long after I became a journalist in 1978—as I was working at a newspaper in Galveston, Texas—I felt the rumblings of what would become a career-long obsession: Explaining the ghastly effects of toxic chemicals on humans—in particular, blue-collar workers. These were the people, mostly men, who did the dirty, dangerous work most of us avoid, in places like Texas City, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana. I detected little sympathy for them when they were burned, gassed, maimed, or soaked with chemicals in the course of their work.
A Q&A with Alicia Kennedy | My awareness of all the ways in which eating meat intersects with systems and outcomes that I don’t agree with unfolded gradually. It was a very instinctual, spiritual conviction that made giving up meat feel both enticing (at first) and necessary (at last), and then the more cerebral reasons for why I was drawn to it came into focus.
By Fred Pearce | Whatever its moral pitfalls, the production of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan was a triumph of twentieth-century science. In the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the steam-powered industrial revolution suddenly seemed quaint. But the arrival of the new atomic age had been very sudden. It was the result of a tidal wave of new science about the structure of atoms, and how unstable these supposed building blocks of matter actually were.
By Eva Saulitis | Morning. Late June. Daytime breeze already ruffling the passage. While doing calisthenics on the beach, Olga spotted three blows threading upward in rapid succession against Gage Island, across the passage. Humpbacks. Some days, a particular quality of light, wind, and humidity made spouts stand out. Ralph, Mary, and I loaded up Whale 1. Since Elli was still sleeping, Olga stayed behind at camp. A few moments after departing, I spotted smaller, fuller blows off Squire Point. “Stop!” I yelled. The three of us stared through binoculars until the whales surfaced again—three orcas slinking close to shore, heading toward camp.
By Esha Chhabra | Unable to put all the secondhand clothes to use, Patricia Ermecheo, [who has been in the business of recycling trash for the past decade], began thinking about how to break down this clothing and turn it into yarn, ready to be spun into a new garment. That could create more systemic change in the industry.
By Alan Levinovitz | As long as national parks have existed, people conceived of them in religious terms. In his book “Discovery of the Yosemite,” the nineteenth-century explorer Lafayette Bunnell described the valley as hallowed ground. Yosemite wasn’t just beautiful, it was holy, “the very innermost sanctuary of all that is Divine in material creation,” a place where visitors could “commune with Nature’s God.” When his companions failed to behave respectfully, Bunnell reacted as one would in church.
This is not the time warp we want to do again. Or ever. The conservative-majority SCOTUS wants to take us on a detour back in time when folks who aren’t straight white cis men didn’t have rights. A time when we thought of the planet as nothing more than an ashtray. A time when . . . you get the idea. Overturning Roe v Wade was the lowest of blows. Gutting the Clean Air Act stripped power from the EPA to curb greenhouse gas emissions. What’s next?
By Bev Rivero | In the early evening on the first Thursday in March, an excited crowd of invitees gathered at the Museum of the Moving Image to celebrate the first three titles honored by the new Science + Literature program from the National Book Foundation. In addition to the excitement of chatting in person with book folks, the event was a great start to Women’s History Month, as all three books are authored by women.
President Biden sure is making up for lost time. At this year’s tribal nations summit, skipped over the previous four years by you know who, he signed an executive order for the US to take steps to protect tribal lands and address the epidemic of missing and murdered Native Americans. He proposed a ban on federal oil and gas leases on the sacred tribal site of Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. And in his official White House proclamation for Native American Heritage Month, he listed more commitments the country will make to Indian Country.
By Dina Gilio-Whitaker | The Red Power movement was just one aspect of the social revolution that swept across the American social landscape in the 1960s and ’70s, paralleling other ethnic nationalisms, women’s liberation, the antiwar movement, and the emergence of a new, rebellious, and predominantly white middle-class counterculture. Disenchanted with the conservative values of their parents’ generation and witnessing the increasing degradation of the environment, countercultural youth looked to other cultures for answers to existential questions they perceived as unavailable in mainstream American society.
By Philip Warburg | The Better Buildings Act, now making its way through the Massachusetts legislature, is a monumental step toward curbing fossil fuel use by larger commercial and public buildings. Yet even as we focus on these major carbon polluters, we cannot lose sight of the need to bring clean energy solutions to residential communities, particularly those that have been unable to tap the solar energy that shines on their rooftops.
A Q&A with W. J. Herbert | A woman meditates on her impending death and the crisis her species has created in the original version of this manuscript which contained only fossil and specimen poems. “Do these creatures ever answer your speaker’s questions?” asked friend and fellow poet Tim Carrier. They don’t, I told him. He said: “But your readers need a way in.” I wasn’t sure what he meant but, in my heart, I knew he was right: we need to care deeply about the speaker.
By Philip Warburg | The cryptocurrency rush is on. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs now offer Bitcoin as an investment option to preferred clients, and electronic payments giant NCR will soon be offering cryptocurrency services to customers of some 650 smaller banks and credit unions.
By V. P. Franklin | In the fall of 2019, award-winning actress and political activist Jane Fonda felt compelled to launch a campaign of civil disobedience to call attention to the climate crisis facing current and future generations. Atmospheric greenhouse gases had reached their highest levels that year, and the Trump administration was not only denying the climate crisis but was also engaged in striking down federal regulations aimed at mitigating the impact of fossil fuels.
By Andreas Karelas | Based on the latest findings of positive psychology research, I suggest that, in order to address climate change, we need to cultivate different values—values that place a greater emphasis on community and less on consumption—and that living according to these values will have the benefits of reducing our impact on the planet and increasing our personal well-being. To do this I’ll describe what I believe to be an effective three-step approach: (1) cultivate gratitude, (2) choose simplicity, and (3) focus on serving others. If we can learn to be more grateful for what we have, simplify our lives, and put more effort into serving others, I think we’ll be well on our way to a happier, more sustainable world.
A Q&A with Robin Broad and John Cavanagh | This book is about two of the most unlikely and inspiring victories that we’ve ever witnessed or had the privilege to be part of. That these wins take place in a poorer country, one that the United States and global corporations have exploited for decades, makes the wins even more remarkable. As we celebrated the victories, we realized that by sharing the story of these wins in a narrative nonfiction book, we could also share this sense of hope with readers, including readers who may have given up hope in these challenging times.
Two things come to mind this Native American Heritage Month. Compared to whites, Native Americans have been hit hard with a higher percentage of COVID cases, not to mention severe COVID outcomes. On the flip side, voters of Indigenous descent in states like Arizona helped swing the vote in favor of President elect Joe Biden and Vice President elect Kamala Harris. (You’re fired, despotic Cheeto!) Their perseverance and commitment to a democracy that frequently forgets them attest to this year’s theme.
A Discussion with Andreas Karelas, Katharine Hayhoe, and Bill McKibben | Bill, I was recently flipping through your book Falter, and one of the things you write that speaks to a big portion of Climate Courage is that we have two technologies that, if employed, could be decisive to the era: the solar panel and the nonviolent movement. RE-volv, the nonprofit that I founded, finances solar-energy projects for nonprofits that otherwise couldn’t go solar. Those nonprofits can then reduce their electricity costs, benefit the people they serve even more so, and demonstrate to the community the benefits of solar energy.
By Linda Hogan | The story of this land is ancient. The red earth, crags, and canyons were once an inland sea. I imagine the currents when this mountain basin was ocean, water swaying as the moon became full or as wind moved it, swaying. Within the water, a shining circle of fish, many lives all thinking and moving as one. Sea animals hid inside stone caves and indentations that now, so many years later, shelter canyon wrens and swallow nests, once protecting numbers of indwelling bats.
By Philip Warburg | In his newly released $2 trillion energy and infrastructure plan, Joe Biden set a nationwide goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035. Solar power figures prominently in his plan, but it’s not clear whether low-income households will share in this historic opportunity. With racial injustice and economic inequality gaining long-overdue attention, we need to look at the gap between established homeowners who have solar power on their homes and people living in more modest circumstances who can’t afford this climate-friendly investment.