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Winter 2012 (Vol. 12, No. 4)
Lured by a utopian vision of nature, government agencies for decades carpet-bombed thousands of remote mountain lakes with billions of trout. Now, they’re determined to undo the damage they caused.
By Anders Halverson
Changing the Battery
As the world goes wireless and gears up for an all-electric roadway, the demand for lithium, crucial to all things mobile, could get dangerous—at least for the flamingos of Bolivia. But the future may hold a better, kinder battery—or maybe no battery at all.
By Michael Abrams
How is the worldwide financial crisis changing conservation? There’s some good news—and there’s some bad news . . .
Dispatches from the Economic Meltdown
Fall 2011 (Vol. 12, No. 3)
Natural History Upgrade
Struggling to survive in the twenty-first century, naturalists might take a page from their own playbook: evolve, adapt—and use technology to woo people back to nature.
By Richard Conniff
The Efficiency Catch-22
Some experts say that energy efficiency can slash carbon emissions at bargain prices. Others say, not so fast. The more energy we save, the more we use.
By John Carey
Finding Genes That Fit
Desperate to break up the genetic monotony that cripples endangered species, researchers are outfitting populations with borrowed genes. The payoff is survival. The price is uniqueness.
By Joe Roman
Summer 2011 (Vol. 12, No. 2)
A handful of giant corporations are laying claim to the germ plasm of the world’s major food crops. And when yield is the grail of profit, biodiversity isn’t a priority.
By Paul Salopek
What goes on in the stomachs and under the hooves of cows might be the key to turning deserts back into grasslands—and even cooling the planet.
By Judith D. Schwartz
To Build a (Better) Fire
A kind of hippie Manhattan Project in rural Oregon tackles climate change, air pollution, and deforestation by bringing together the best minds in the field to invent cheap, durable, clean-burning stoves for 3 billion people.
By Burkhard Bilger
Spring 2011 (Vol. 12, No. 1)
Shrink to Fit
Humanity appears to be ushering in a new age of minifauna– a new kind of Lilliputian world full of runts and dwarves.
By David Malakoff
Conservation and Poverty
In protected areas across the planet, locals are waiting for the benefits of conservation to improve their lives. And waiting and waiting…
By Fred Pearce
Drop anchor or drift away? The threat of sea-level rise is forcing the island nation of the Maldives to confront an obliterated future– and all options for survival are on the table.
By Bucky McMahon
Winter 2011 (Vol. 11, No. 4)
Bringing the Green Back
Central Americans working abroad and sending money home are not only fueling their native economies—they’re also helping to bring the trees back.
By John Carey
Cementing the Future
An entrepreneurial marine geologist from Stanford believes that by mimicking the way marine organisms create shells, he can transform concrete manufacturing from one of the most carbon-intensive processes on Earth to one that is carbon-negative.
By Eli Kintisch
When a fast-talking Israeli journalist became both father and sole enforcer of Cameroon’s wildlife-trafficking laws, he lifted the veil from the taboo subject of corruption in conservation.
By Tom Clynes
July-Sept (Vol. 11, No. 3)
Black Is the New Green
In a deft act of ecological jujitsu, Johannes Lehmann wants to borrow an 8,000-year-old technology to interrupt the natural carbon cycle and return some of the infamous black stuff to the soil.
By Carl Zimmer
Can Cities Feed Us?
For every acre of land cultivated in a high-rise urban farm, 10 to 20 acres of current cropland could go wild.
By Sarah DeWeerdt
Genetically Modified Conservation
It sounds like an oxymoron, but genetic engineering is already ushering in a new brand of agriculture that slashes pesticide use and thrives in a warmer, wetter world.
By Erik Vance
A gang of drug-resistant infections, presumably on the run from hospitals and landfills, is cropping up in marine mammals, weaving a web of disease that extends deep into the ocean.
By Rebecca Kessler
The New Normal
As though working through the five stages of grief, more and more ecologists are reluctantly accepting that we live in a human-dominated world. And some are discovering that patchwork ecosystems might even rival their pristine counterparts.
By Emma Maris
Building on the Fly
Could the bizarre, decentralized logic of insect architecture provide a blueprint for revolutionary and sustainable human habitat?
By Philip Ball
Up Up And Away
As pikas and other alpine species are pressured by global warming, many observers warn they will be pushed higher and higher until they vanish like deserving souls into the ether. But new science suggests the “rapture hypothesis” doesn’t tell the whole story.
By J. Madeleine Nash
Garbage in, Garbage Out
When a single swath of ocean contains more plastic than plankton, the simple act of taking out the trash becomes a grueling scientific challenge.
Stung from Behind
Distracted by a mysterious rash of dying bees, researchers may be overlooking a more insidious pollinator crisis.
Wounds That Can Heal
A pioneering study of nature’s recovery times delivers a startling conclusion: that some damaged ecosystems bounce back in decades, not millenia. The findings offer a ray of hope—and a respite from apocalyptic storylines.
A new generation of unruly adolescent wildlife has some experts wondering whether what we’re missing isn’t so much habitat as adult supervision.
The (Un)Natural Order of Things
Have we unwittingly exchanged the language of the living world—the names of real plants and animals—for a vocabulary of Tony the Tigers and Geico geckos?
Be Fruitful & Multiply?
Population growth, from an environmental viewpoint, has always seemed like an open-and-shut case. Less is more. But what if that equation has changed?
July-September 2009 (Vol. 10, No. 3)
Is a Warmer World a Sicker World?
As scientists piece together how climate impacts disease, strange patterns are emerging: mosquito outbreaks can follow drought, shorter migrations can make butterflies sick, and more birds (not fewer) can ward off West Nile virus.
Operation Sex Change
Imagine waking up to discover that your mother, your sister, and your friends’ wives are all men. That could be reality for invasive fish if a radical plan to exterminate them takes shape.
On the Fence
People construct fences, sometimes across whole continents, on the poetic assumption that good fences make good neighbors. Unfortunately, for wildlife, gated communities are rarely tranquil.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
If, as researchers are predicting, carbon dioxide increases will lock in rising seas for a thousand years, then it’s time to consider some radical proposals that run headlong into conventional environmental wisdom
Biofuels Déjà Vu
Lured by dreams of “green” fuel, could we end up trampling biodiversity in the name of saving the planet?
Taming the Blue Frontier
Ten thousand years ago, humans made the shift on land from hunting and gathering to farming. Now the same transformation is taking place at sea. This time, can we get it right?
January-March 2009 (Vol.10, No.1)
The Mushroom Messiah
Faced with bioterrorism, fuel shortages, and a warming planet, where should we turn for solutions: a) religion, b) technology, or c) fungus?
The Nature of the Fiscal World
Will the environment gain or lose from the financial meltdown and its economic aftermath?
Not So Silent Spring
Blackbirds in Europe are mimicking car alarms, ambulance sirens, and cell phones at jarringly life-like volumes. And they aren’t the only wildlife switching frequencies in order to be heard over the human din.
October-December 2008 (Vol. 9, No. 4)
Misnaming seafood isn’t just a ripoff. It’s a global phenomenon
that’s wreaking havoc on ocean conservation.
The Sterile Banana
As uniformity replaces diversity, some of your favorite fruits could
be on the cusp of extinction.
The Most Popular Lifestyle on Earth
Forget lions, tigers, and sharks. The billions of tiny parasites that
make a living castrating and brainwashing their hosts may be the
new kings of the food web.
July-September 2008 (Vol. 9, No. 3)
Confessions of a Hit Man
Our mark was an invasive pest that had made a remote tropical island its home.
But good and evil are not so easily discerned in ecological systems, even
when a place looks like Eden.
How does tourism drive deforestation? How are divorce rates linked to resource consumption? What’s the connection between clean water and international terrorism?
The Problem of What to Eat
Organic farming and eating locally make intuitive sense. But does conventional wisdom about eating sustainably hold up to the science?
April-June 2008 (Vol. 9, No. 2)
Do Trees Grow on Money?
After years of failed attempts to merge market economics with rainforest conservation, the US$60 billion carbon market might finally be the ticket. That is, if money is all it’s going to take.
Hybridization can be both a creative and a destructive force. And it’s on the rise. Should we embrace it or quash it?
A Witness to Violence
Long before the Darfur crisis, Michael Fay foresaw that the murderous Sudanese horsemen would not stop at killing elephants.
Cancer on a Whole Species
The gruesome disease ravaging Tasmanian devils is unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Pull predators out of the mix, and a once lush green world turns into an ecological shop of horrors.
When most of us think about environmentally friendly places, we imagine a terrain untouched by concrete. Cities seem like ecological nightmares. But perhaps the conventional wisdom is exactly backward.
October-December 2007 (Vol. 8, No. 4)
Saint Ursus Maritimus
Icons are about simplicity and clarity. No gray areas. But what happens when the real polar bear clashes with the symbol it has become?
Charged with downsizing wildlife populations to fit the geography of the modern world, a small group of researchers is out to replace bullets with family planning.
The Vision Thing
Imagine swapping Tony Blair for Winston Churchill. Would it transform the timid politics of global warming?
July – September 2007 (Vol. 8, No. 3)
State-of-the-art forensic technology is forcing us to face the reality that even our most applauded trade bans and moratoriums aren’t working. From ivory cell phones to shark fin soup, it’s all availableóat a price.
The Last Gladiators
How joyful, really, is the resurrection of a species if the modern world cannot find a single haven for it and if it seems doomed to slip into limbo once more anyway?
10 Solutions to Save the Ocean
We asked a select group of innovative thinkers to go out on a limb.
Aliens Among Us
Invasive species stand accused of ecological insubordination, mass murder, and other crimes against nature. But the case is far from closed.
Earnest, pious, and quite allergic to irony: nature writing has none of the trademark qualities that play well in 2007. So is it time for a change?
That Sinking Feeling
We dig fossil fuel out of the ground, burn it and fill the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, and then plant trees to soak it back up. If only it were so simple.
When Worlds Collide
Climate change will shuffle the deck of plants, animals, and ecosystems in ways we’ve only begun to imagine.
Pristine forests of the Amazon were not encountered in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; they were invented in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Are We Putting Tigers in Our Tanks?
The connection between biodiesel, land use, and habitat loss isn’t easy to pin down, but it isn’t easy to ignore, either.
Do No Harm
The story of the Hawaiian crow is a parable of doing harm by going to all lengths to do good. What role should the ancient advice of Hippocrates play in endangered species conservation?
Cloning could be the Holy Grail of conservation or the ultimate folly. Either way, the fact is, cloning works.
Us or Them
Killing predators stands as one of the most age-old and enduring forms of wildlife management. Even now, myth and politics trump ecology. Is there a way out?
One Big Fix
A prominent scientist’s proposal for countering climate change says volumes about our plight.
A small group of latter-day Noahs is beginning to explore radical new ways to help species ride out the current wave of extinctions.
When context is lost, what kind of tales can biological relics tell? Paleoecologists are forcing us again and again to rethink what was once established fact.
George Sugihara thinks the way fish quotas are set is all wrong. Instead, he wants to tap into people’s baser instincts by treating fish catches like tradable poker chips.
Imagine a portable DNA barcode scanner that could transform people’s relationship with nature. Could such futuristic technology be to biodiversity what the printing press was to literacy?
Behind the hue and cry over the Kyoto climate change treaty is one nagging but rarely reported reality: even if every nation in the world complied to the hilt, it would hardly approach solving the problem.
Fortress conservation is making a come-back.
How Do You Measure What You Can’t See?
How do you know what you don’t know? How do you know when you know enough, or when you need to know more?
Never mind the road map for peace. An unlikely marriage between bird conservation and military aviation is thriving on one of the most divisive pieces of real estate on Earth.
Where the Wild Things Were
The recent Nature paper proposing to bring cheetahs, lions, and elephants to North America raised a wild rumpus. But are the critics missing the point?
Raising the Bar on Kyoto
New standards require projects to save more than just carbon.