For this cover story, I traveled across the East Coast, learning about efforts to protect species outside of official protected areas. Because in today's world, parks are not enough. We need to preserve species everywhere.
I wrote this for a family party where everyone was supposed to contribute some kind of artwork in any medium on the theme of a castle. I was so pleased with it I submitted it to McSweeney's--and they published it!
Forget your carbon footprint; the best thing to do about climate change is join a group focused on collective action.
I used the adventure of my own gas-powered car breaking down in remote Eastern Oregon to frame a story about the pros and cons of switching to EVs, given that they depend on minerals that must be mined.
I visited the Makah reservation and reported on the tribe's quest to protect their treaty right to hunt whales--sustainably.
The old way of insuring against fires isn’t working anymore.
Living in the era of climate change might make us feel guilt, or grief, or anger. How do those who think about these problems every day keep going?
I love K-pop. This piece was an opportunity to write about a story where my hobby intersected with my beat. Young, progressive listeners are making a stink about carbon-torching NFTs. But will greener versions be enough to get them on board?
A photographer chronicles a grizzly bear subculture
What happens when we do something—but not enough—to stop climate change?
This piece came out of my reporting for my book, Wild Souls. Zoos claim to be conservation institutions. But how much do they really work to save species? And are those efforts enough justification for the multigenerational captivity of wild animals?
Far-right radicals in Southern Oregon are threatening to bust open an irrigation canal. Instead, the region could be a model for managing watersheds in a warmer world.
I wrote this story about tensions over water where I live, in the Klamath Basin that straddles the Oregon-California border. It summarizes how we could share our water, even as the climate changes. The fact that two local irrigators with ties to infamous antigovernment agitator Ammon Bundy are threatening to open an irrigation canal in defiance of the Bureau of Reclamation was the excuse for the story--but the story is about compromise and collaboration, not conflict.
Nature documentaries mislead viewers into thinking that there are lots of untouched landscapes left. There aren’t.
It feels as if the world is on fire—and it is. In the last days of the Trump administration, U.S. government scientists announced that 2020 was one of the two hottest years in recorded history. The other hottest year was 2016: fittingly, the year that the United States elected Donald Trump president, a disaster for the environment as well as democratic norms.
Cascading disasters could become the new normal, the background to our lives. Or we could try to stop the dominoes from falling. But if we are to make the kind of sweeping systematic changes that could stop climate change from getting worse, end the truly dystopian inequities in our country, and crush the pandemic before hundreds of thousands more are dead, we cannot allow our baselines to shift. We cannot forget that these are disasters.
This essay describes the double claustrophobia of being trapped at home by the pandemic and wildfires. The sense of restriction feels strange for a Westerner who is used to being able to get up and go–to always have the option to escape into the millions of acres of public land in our region.
In this piece, which was commissioned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, I wrote about what 2070 might look like if we do everything right on climate and conservation. I really enjoyed imagining a genuinely good future, and sketching out a road map to get there. Read this if you need a clearer sense of what you’re fighting FOR, not just what you are fighting against.
In this feature I take on organic farming, GMOs, and ‘regenerative agriculture’ and propose we mash the best of all these approaches together to create something that can not only adapt to climate change but can help ameliorate it. It also features me eating peanut butter sandwiches on a 7-hour California road trip.
I got a really fantastic response from this op-ed, in which I offer readers a simple five-step plan to move past anxiety and depression over climate change and become an active part of the solution. Hint: the secret to improving your mental health, as well as the health of the planet, is collective action, not individual sacrifice. Read and share!
I had mixed feelings when I was asked to write a piece about getting arrested during a sit-in at Oregon’s Governor’s office protesting a fossil fuel project. I didn’t want to center myself when many others face far more risk and impact and have fought harder and longer. However, I did want to share my experience for those who might be considering civil disobedience and want a sense of what it is like. So in the spirit of “service journalism” I decided to go ahead and share my own story. But I want to be super clear that others—notably Indigenous people along the Klamath and impacted landowners—have been fighting way longer than I have and have put way more on the line. I risked arrest in part because I have lots and lots of layered privilege that made doing so easier and less risky for me. There are infinite ways to fight for climate justice and this is just one approach that makes sense for some people. If civil disobedience makes sense to you and you are considering it, I hope my experience is useful. But this fight isn’t about me—it is about US—a wonderful, hopeful group of people who love the land, from Southern Oregon Rising Tide to Rogue Climate to tribal youth to ranchers and fishers.
For this piece about humans creating soil, I got to delve into myth and emotion and write about soil nutrient cycling like a poet. I really enjoyed the process! Illustrations by the very talented Jia Sung.
This story is very different from my usual work. It is not about the environment, except insofar as it is about how the environment of a remote part of Eastern Oregon led to violence. Ultimately, it is about how two men, off the grid, outside the shadow of law enforcement, both armed and ideologically committed to self-reliance, decided to solve their problems. Hint: it ended in blood.
In this story for National Geographic, I toured Manhattan with a rat expert, cuddled a rat on Long Island, watched terriers hunt rats in Washington D.C. and tried–and alas, failed–to eat rats in New Zealand. I came away with a profound respect for these clever, kind synanthropes.
In this story for Outside Magazine, I write about a little boy who got lost in the Oregon woods in the 1980s–and then walked some 16 miles to safety, on his own, in the dark, in near-freezing temperatures. He was six years old.
Today, Cody is nearly 40. To write the story, we met up with his mother Marcie and a member of the search party to figure out his route through the Blue Mountains. Then we hiked some of the way with my own six-year-old son.
Invasive species are sometimes trapped, poisoned, and shot in large numbers to save native species from extinction. Some scientists say the bloodshed isn't worth it.
I wrote this op-ed with Don Gentry, Chairman of the Klamath Tribes. We oppose a pipeline project that would endanger the Klamath River and the ancestral homelands of the Klamath people, as well as contribute to climate change.
How far are we willing to go to save species? Are we willing to kill? To meddle in evolution? This feature in Wired magazine looks at conservation at the dawn of the CRISPR gene editing age. What if the only way to save the wild is to engineer it?
This is one I am really proud of. A look at one wolf and one man over nearly a decade in Eastern Oregon. In their story are all the tensions of wildlife management in the Anthropocene, plus bone piles.
The Seasteading movement is getting close to building its first prototype, an artificial archipelago where people will live, play and do research. I report, from Tahiti!
This story was reported quite near my home in Klamath Falls. I spent some time with John Stephenson tracking wolves and talking about what makes some wolves famous and others anonymous.
We’re in a motorized canoe on our slow way to the Matsigenka village of Tayakome—unreachable by any road, deep in the heart of Manú National Park in Peru…
Elias Machipango Shuverireni picks up his long, palm-wood bow and his arrows tipped with sharpened bamboo. We're going monkey hunting in Peru's Manú National Park—a huge swath of protected rain forest and one of the most biodiverse parks in the world.
Klamath Falls, Ore. — DROUGHT in the West is an ugly thing. Rivers trickle away to nothing, fires rage, crops fail, ranchers go broke, tribal people watch fish die. As Westerners fight over the little water left, tempers crack, lawsuits fly and bitterness coats whole communities like fine dust.
Creating haute locavore cuisine in Tassie has its challenges. The island has a robust fishing fleet—but no fresh fish market. Nearly everything is sent to Sydney and Melbourne. “Tasmanian” wines are nearly all produced off island with Tasmanian grapes—though Moyle lives on one of the few vineyards that makes its own wine. Imported produce is sprayed against pests, which icks Moyle out. And the foraging is somewhat slim. A keen backpacker told me that he’s extra careful to bring enough food rations when he heads out on a Tasmanian trek. “There’s hardly any bush tucker at all; you’d starve out there.”
A feature on the increasing momentum behind looking for the first Americans in the west–including offshore in the Pacific. I went to Idaho to visit Loren Davis's Cooper's Ferry dig for this story and got to see them pull wolverine teeth thousands of years old out of the sediment.
A piece for Orion on whether or not our obligations to save species justify meddling in wilderness areas.
Here’s an audio interview I did about the piece.
An Op-Ed, written with Greg Aplet. Here, we argue that “old” and “new” conservation aren’t opposites, but rather complementary parts of a diverse, bet hedging conservation strategy.
Is “leave no trace” a recipe for “have no fun” for kids visiting natural areas?
In this piece in the journal Animal Conservation, I respond to a critique of my work by three well-respected conservation biologists: Brian Miller, Michael Soulé and John Terborgh. Their critique is here: ‘New conservation’ or surrender to development? Michelle Marvier also replied, here: ecumenical conservation. The ‘fight’ between traditional conservation and ‘new conservation’ is a distraction. We all agree on 95% of science and 95% of values. Our differences are real but very minor in comparison to our shared objectives. Save species, populations and ecosystems! Leave a green, diverse and surprising world to our children! Revel in the wonders of the Earth!
Predators are supposed to exert strong control over ecosystems, but nature doesn't always play by the rules.
For this piece, I wrote about how hard it is to walk around the block at a toddler's pace.
A Facebook favorite. I got some great email with personal stories from new hunters when this ran.
Here's an op-ed about the Anthropocene I wrote with Peter Kareiva, the chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy; Joseph Mascaro, a postdoc at the Carnegie Institution for Science and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Erle Ellis is an associate professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.