All posts tagged: natural world

The rock star of the natural world and broadcasting hero…

The rock star of the natural world and broadcasting hero…

A rock star in the natural world, Sir David Attenborough – who is famous for his distinct dulcet tones when narrating – has been there from the dawn of wildlife television and seen many advances in technology and, sadly, several extinctions and the decline of the natural world.His campaigning and educational documentaries have inspired generations of conservationists, photographers and filmmakers.Here’s the legend’s life in pictures… Source link

Living Through the End of California

Living Through the End of California

In his 1998 book, Ecology of Fear, Mike Davis, the late California muckraker and self-proclaimed Marxist environmentalist, made the case for “letting Malibu burn.” He pointed out that the city of Los Angeles devoted more resources to dealing with the wildfires that rage in the wealthy enclave of Malibu than to the ones that break out in downtown tenements. And yet, Malibu’s very design ensures the return of fire. “The Malibu nouveaux riches built higher and higher in the mountain chamise with scant regard for the inevitable fiery consequences,” he writes. Why not return to the wisdom of native Californians, who knew that small, controlled fires were necessary for preventing bigger ones? I was in Los Angeles on one of the occasions when Malibu burned, in the 2018 Woolsey Fire. More than 30 miles away, in West Hollywood, not knowing any better, I went about my day, like everybody else, walking, shopping, doing errands, even as white ash fell onto our heads, as gently as snow. I thought about that day as I read Manjula …

A Poem by Erica Funkhouser: ‘The Pianist Upstairs’

A Poem by Erica Funkhouser: ‘The Pianist Upstairs’

Miki Lowe Published in The Atlantic in 2005 By Erica Funkhouser Illustrations by Miki Lowe January 21, 2024, 6 AM ET The poet Erica Funkhouser grew up on a farm in Massachusetts, and it was there—many times while wandering through the woods—that she grew enchanted by language. She loved the music of words, “the kind of clang of them together and the sound and the playfulness of them,” she later said in an interview. Throughout her career, she has continued to describe, joyfully, the natural world, “where all the discoveries, wondrous or desperate, come without names.” At some point, though, she also realized that writing can fail to capture real brutality. “The risks are innumerable: sentimentality, over-generalization, over-simplification, distortion, and preaching, to name a few,” she wrote in a 2005 essay on war poetry. The same year, she published “The Pianist Upstairs,” a poem in which she sounds exhausted, doubtful of the essential goodness of language or even of the possibility that art can heal much at all. Listening to her neighbor play the piano, …

What the Housing Shortage Is Doing to American Environmentalism

What the Housing Shortage Is Doing to American Environmentalism

Environmentalism has never been a stable ideology, and its adherents have never been a monolithic group. But, in Minneapolis, the green community has fractured as a wide array of self-described environmentalists find that they don’t agree on very much anymore. Back in 2018, Minneapolis generated national headlines for being the first major American city to eliminate single-family zoning. Under a plan called Minneapolis 2040, the city legalized duplexes and triplexes in all residential neighborhoods. The plan led to a frenzy of ambitious regulatory changes meant to yield denser, transit-accessible, and more affordable homes across the city. The stated goals of Minneapolis 2040 included housing affordability and racial equity, but supporters also stressed the environmental benefits of funneling population growth toward the urban core instead of outlying counties. “All the evidence and data shows that when you reduce your carbon footprint by, for instance, not having a 45-minute commute in from the suburbs … it helps the environment,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told me at a downtown ice-cream shop in September. “It’s really simple, right?” Maybe. …

A Major Climate Force Has Been Ignored for Decades

A Major Climate Force Has Been Ignored for Decades

Finding a vole on Alaska’s North Slope takes practice. The open plain pulls the eye upward, toward grand things: the horizon line, the distant shimmer of snow in the mountains. The nearest tree is more than 50 miles away. The low shrubs and sedges toss and wave in the wind. It’s a place where a 600-pound musk ox can look dog-size. In this landscape, even a very large vole—weighing less than three ounces and no more than nine inches long—is easy to miss. But Nick Patel knows what to look for. Last August, Patel pointed my attention toward a depression worn into the moss, a path that disappeared into a yellowed tuft of sedge. Voles are creatures of habit, scurrying so often over the same route that they wear trails—runways—into the soil. Once you know to look for them, the tundra is laced through with vole runways. Patel is a field tech with Team Vole, a group of some 20 researchers studying Alaska’s voles and lemmings. Despite their size, these creatures are a force on …

The Books Briefing: Our Dramatic Relationship With the Natural World

The Books Briefing: Our Dramatic Relationship With the Natural World

This is an edition of the Books Briefing, our editors’ weekly guide to the best in books. Sign up for it here. Nature writing has always been a little unsatisfying to me, I’ll admit. Unlike our relationships with other humans, which are tinged with friction and love and all the other ingredients of drama, our encounters with the natural world seemed fairly static. Nature exists out there: We walk through it, we enjoy its beauty, we sometimes feel its indiscriminate wrath. But there is not much back-and-forth. Or so I assumed. This week, Kelly McMasters gave me a lot to think about, and to read, with a list of books about our connections to nature, a collection that feels especially relevant at a moment of vulnerability for the Earth. Take Akiko Busch’s Nine Ways to Cross a River, which is about her experience swimming across nine American waterways, including the Hudson and the Mississippi, each time feeling personally transformed and acquiring a new, visceral understanding of the landscape. Or Terry Tempest Williams’s Refuge, about the …

What Humans and Nature Get From Each Other

What Humans and Nature Get From Each Other

It’s not a coincidence that America is getting both lonelier and more indoorsy, an Atlantic writer argues. Pete Lomchid / Getty November 18, 2023, 8 AM ET This is an edition of The Wonder Reader, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a set of stories to spark your curiosity and fill you with delight. Sign up here to get it every Saturday morning. Those of us who live in cities are inclined to avoid some of nature’s less-than-appealing creatures. “My aversion to pigeons, rats, and cockroaches is somewhat justifiable, given their cultural associations with dirtiness and disease,” Hannah Seo writes in a recent article. “But such disgust is part of a larger estrangement between humanity and the natural world.” “As nature grows unfamiliar, separate, and strange to us, we are more easily repelled by it,” Seo explains. “These feelings can lead people to avoid nature further, in what some experts have called ‘the vicious cycle of biophobia.’ This cycle has some parallels with another cycle of modern life, Seo writes: “Psychologists know that lonely …

Our Lonely Indoor Lives – The Atlantic

Our Lonely Indoor Lives – The Atlantic

My Brooklyn apartment is designed for sterility. The windows have screens to keep out bugs; I chose my indoor plants specifically because they don’t attract pests. While commuting to other, similarly aseptic indoor spaces—co-working offices, movie theaters, friends’ apartments—I’ll skirt around pigeons, avert my eyes from a gnarly rat, shudder at the odd scuttling cockroach. But once I’m back inside, the only living beings present (I hope, and at least as far as I know) are the ones I’ve chosen to interact with: namely, my partner and the low-maintenance snake plant on the windowsill. My aversion to pigeons, rats, and cockroaches is somewhat justifiable, given their cultural associations with dirtiness and disease. But such disgust is part of a larger estrangement between humanity and the natural world. As nature grows unfamiliar, separate, and strange to us, we are more easily repelled by it. These feelings can lead people to avoid nature further, in what some experts have called “the vicious cycle of biophobia.” The feedback loop bears telling resemblance to another vicious cycle of modern …

The perfect book for spooky season

The perfect book for spooky season

This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here. Welcome back to The Daily’s Sunday culture edition, in which one Atlantic writer reveals what’s keeping them entertained. Today’s special guest is our supervisory senior associate editor Rachel Gutman-Wei, who works on our Science, Technology, and Health team. Rachel has reported on how handwriting lost its personality and made the case for eating raw batter. She also once ate an apple that had been sitting in the Atlantic offices for more than 400 days during the pandemic. (Those of us who know Rachel are a tad worried about her dietary choices.) Rachel is currently forgoing social media in favor of the New York Times Games app, defending a high-fantasy series her friends are divided about, and regretting her decision to see the stage adaptation of Moulin Rouge. First, here are three Sunday reads from The Atlantic: The Culture Survey: …

These Birds Got a Little Too Comfortable in Birdhouses

These Birds Got a Little Too Comfortable in Birdhouses

Whether it’s because we destroy their habitats, discombobulate them with city lights, or allow cats into their midst, most wild birds want nothing to do with humans. But purple martins—shimmery, blackish-bluish swallows native to North America—just can’t get enough. For centuries, the species has gradually abandoned its homes in the wild for birdhouses we’ve built. An entire subspecies of the bird now nests exclusively in human-made boxes; east of the Rocky Mountains, “there are officially no purple-martin colonies that exist outside of that,” says Joe Siegrist, the president of the Purple Martin Conservation Association. Modern martins have become downright trusting of people. Some will even let humans reach into their nest and pick up their chicks—an intrusion that would send other birds into a screeching, pecking rage. “They’re the most docile species I’ve ever worked with,” says Blake Grisham, a wildlife biologist at Texas Tech University. And the more we build birdhouses and interact with martins, the more they seem to thrive. “It’s totally the opposite of our default in wildlife management,” Grisham told me. …