Tag: Environmentalism

The Holocene Hangover

As a child growing up in the early 1980s, I often daydreamed of space exploration and interstellar frontiers. The leap into outer space seemed tantalizingly close. In the science fiction stories I ...

How to Live in Uncertain Times

Doomsday is a messy affair. We fix our anxious gaze on the horizon, awaiting the moment when the air will prove too warm, the sea too toxic, the ground unfirm. We live in a time we are calling the ...

Anthropocene and Empire

In the autumn of 1839, an unusually strong tropical storm devastated coastal communities along the Bay of Bengal in what was then the English East India Company’s premier settlement. A decade later ...

Placerita Canyon

This is the latest installment of Public Streets, a biweekly urban observations series curated by Ellis Avery.   North of Los Angeles, there is a canyon. It was once occupied by Tataviam Native ...

Too Bad About the Trees

This is the latest installment of our new blog series, An Engineer Reads a Novel.   Heat and Light, Jennifer Haigh’s fifth novel, highlights the complexity, dirtiness, and danger of the labor of ...

How To Catch a Philippine Serial Killer

F. H. Batacan’s Smaller and Smaller Circles, a gripping crime thriller, winner of the prestigious Philippine National Book Award and until now available only in the Philippines, begins with the ...

Searching for Purpose

Near-extinction stories are nearly as old as the human species, from Noah’s flood to 20th-century narratives about nuclear holocaust (1950s–60s) and pandemics (1970s–80s), to the current spate of ...

Unstill Life

English nature writing has never been all that natural. While their American counterparts tend to imagine natural landscapes as “the last remaining place where civilization … has not fully infected ...

Planetary Politics

In 2000, the atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen and the ecologist Eugene Stoermer proposed that the earth had entered a new age. The Holocene period, the geological term for the past 11,500 years, had ...

Dancing on a Crowded Planet

Thirty dancers are barely enough to fill the shadow of the life-sized blue whale that hangs, mid-dive, in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Yet on ...

What’s the Matter with Dystopia?

Dystopia is flourishing. In the process, it is becoming routine and losing its political power. If current fiction is to be believed, postapocalyptic wastelands will in the not too distant future be ...

Forget Fertility, Get Feral

What’s more important to our planet’s future than little children? Global warming is about them, we’re told, and it’s on their behalf that we have to do better. Climate scientist James Hansen titled ...

Changing Climates of History

Neither Thucydides, Gibbon, von Ranke, nor Braudel ever cited a paper appearing in Geophysical Research Letters. They did not worry themselves about fluctuations in the Siberian High or the Southern ...

Rereading Walden

Pete Seeger once said, “If there’s one thing worse than banning a song, that’s making it official.”1 One could say something similar about good books: the one thing worse than banning the book is ...