Parks without people? A response to Jason Mark

A few days ago, environmental writer Jason Mark published an essay in Sierra, the national magazine of the Sierra Club, in which he advocates for “a provocative idea”: establishing nature reserves that would be “off-limits to most people” except “working scientists.” These preserves would be managed exclusively “for wild nature alone.” Mark invokes conservationist icon […] …

Parks without people? A response to Jason Mark

Redux: Every decision my kids made me make in one day

Note: This is the most popular post I ever wrote on this site and it was basically written by my kids! Decision fatigue is real. Decision fatigue is the mental exhaustion and reduced willpower that comes from making many, many micro-calls every day. My modern American lifestyle, with its endless variety of choices, from a […] …

Redux: Every decision my kids made me make in one day

Redux: Water in Yomibato

In 2016, I went to the Peruvian Amazon on assignment for National Geographic. I focused on a group of indigenous people, the Matsiguenka, living inside Manu National Park. One of my sources was Alejo Machipango, a hunter, farmer, and member of the water committee for the village of Yomibato. Alejo is about 34, but I […] …

Redux: Water in Yomibato

Robin Season

There are approximately 50 American robins in my front yard, a noisy, colorful flock centered around my crabapple tree. They have been partying for at least 24 hours, gorging themselves on the fruit and singling lustily. These festive aggregations are a common feature of spring throughout the United States as the birds migrate. Robins are […] …

Robin Season

The End of Anonymity

I’m currently working on a story about a homicide. In my case, there’s no doubt about the identity of the victim or the person who killed him. But I’ve used online court records, social media pages, real estate listings, and other digital data to fill in their biographies. It is a commonplace now to observe […] …

Redux: Old Bone Song

I am turning 40 on the day I am supposed to write this, so instead, I am re-running my favorite LWON essay–one suited to summiting the peak of midlife and looking out towards the horizon of death (ideally still just at the limit of one’s vision). Enjoy! Taphonomy is the study of what happens to […] …

Redux: Old Bone Song

Seal is Alive and Well

On Poipu Beach on Kauai, bikini-clad humans are sometimes joined by two endangered species: monk seals* and green sea turtles. Both are there for the same reason we are—to bask in the sun. But while the only beings taking notice of me as I lie supine on the soft beige sand are the fearless wild […] …

Seal is Alive and Well

The End of Animal Farming? A Q&A with Jacy Reese

Jacy Reese wants to end animal farming. You can tell, because that is the title of his new book: The End of Animal Farming. Reese is a committed “effective altruist,” which means that he spends his time thinking about what actions will most efficiently help as many sentient creatures as possible and eliminate the most […] …

The End of Animal Farming? A Q&A with Jacy Reese

In which I talk myself–and you–into going for a walk

This week, you may have seen the following headline in your feeds: “Not exercising enough is worse for you than smoking and diabetes, study suggests.” For 122,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic, better fitness—as demonstrated by better performance on a treadmill test–strongly predicted longer lives. Because there have been some questions about possible health risks […] …

In which I talk myself–and you–into going for a walk

Redux: A Death In the Forest

Note: This post originally appeared in December of 2016. I find a stick and use it to break up the dry twists of coyote scat I have found on the trail. Shit is nature’s obituary page. In each pile are the traces of lives recently lost. In this particular excreta I find a sprinkling of […] …

Redux: A Death In the Forest

Be an Arc Bender

I have a friend who is worried about our country. Haw haw. Who am I kidding? All my friends are worried about our country, every single one of them, even the Republicans I know. We are living through an incredibly bonkers and troubling moment: climate change is starting to actively bite us in the ass […] …

Be an Arc Bender

Bennu: The Hype is Real

For the past two years, I have been following the voyage of OSIRIS-REx, a spacecraft headed to an asteroid called Bennu. Bennu is important for at least four reasons: Local space history may recorded in its rocks, which are about as old as the formation of the solar system. It is carbon-rich and scientists think […] …

Bennu: The Hype is Real