A Visit with the Glacier Squad

I went far out of my element, onto a sheet of ice in the wilderness, to report this story.

Hakai Magazine

A high mountain glacier, in its frigid, deadly enormity, doesn’t feel much like a landscape meant for humans. In the European Alps, medieval myths held that glaciers carried curses and incarcerated the frozen souls of the damned. And yet, on a grand scale, where glaciers and humans coexist, our lives are entwined in ways we rarely realize. [Read more.]

Can We Help Our Forests Prepare for Climate Change?

My contribution to a cover story package for the special issue, “Life on Another Planet” (with writers Kim Stanley Robinson, Kenneth Brower, and Dashka Slater).

Sierra Magazine

On a decommissioned naval base in Maine owned by Acadia National Park, about a thousand tree seedlings stand inside a series of wire enclosures, corralled like farm animals.

Nicholas Fisichelli, forest ecology director at the Schoodic Institute, a nonprofit that functions as a research center for Acadia, walks through the plots of baby trees. They are laid out neatly in a grassy clearing, beside a former infirmary that has been converted into a science building. Lanky and bespectacled, he stoops to peer at the rows of new leaves and delicate stems. One group of plots is a test to see whether seed sown on the ground will sprout in this environment. Other sections are full of seedlings from nursery stock. Collectively, the plots are part of a radical experiment: a wide-ranging search for trees that will be able to survive in this national park decades from now—when things get hotter, drier, and much more uncertain. [Read more.]

An Elegy for Our Battered Coastlines

Undark

I review Elizabeth Rush’s Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore for Undark. From the review:

The demise of coastal wetland trees like tupelos and mangroves is an early sign of sea level rise, and the skeletons of dead trees appear in scene after scene. The rampike is Rush’s metaphor for loss, and she uses it to string together elegiac accounts of places and communities being drowned or washed away.

But wherever Rush finds loss, she also finds examples of resilience. [Read more.]

Talking About Climate Change in Trump Country

Sierra Magazine

This story took me to rural Minnesota, where two organizations — the Jefferson Center and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy — are leading conversations about the politically charged subject of climate change in conservative, rural communities.

For 47 years, Harvey Krage lived in a white farmhouse with red shutters on the side of a bluff about 11 miles from the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota. He and his family kept ducks in a pair of ponds and drank water from the springhouse in their backyard. For three decades, Krage commuted from the farm through a woodland of red cedar and black maple, past corn and bean fields, to the small city of Winona, where he retreaded massive, heavy construction tires for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Then for another decade, he drove the company’s semitrailers, passing the long hours with talk radio, especially the diatribes of right-wing commentator Rush Limbaugh. That’s how he first heard about climate change, “about how crazy these scientists were.” [Read more.]

In ‘The Water Will Come,’ Jeff Goodell Warns That Rising Seas Won’t Wait

I reviewed Jeff Goodell’s new book about sea level rise, The Water Will Come, for Undark.

Undark Magazine

There are no silver bullets in this book, no obvious happy endings. But its message isn’t hopeless — rather a warning against folly. Miami was built on a dream, but we are not living in one. It’s pointless to pretend that we can rely on the brash optimism and hubris of the past to insulate us from the floods of the future. The water is rising, and things will get ugly, filthy, and dangerous if we ignore what’s coming. [Read more.]