Wild things

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, a law that promised to preserve America’s largest wild places in an “untrammeled” state untouched by people. But back in 1964, no one anticipated the Anthropocene of the 21st century – a period in which humans affect every corner of the Earth. Today, global climate change and invasive species from foreign lands (and waters) are … Continue reading Wild things

Beaches and biodiversity

It’s August, and for me, that means beach time. Sun, sand and waves feel great, but it’s also about shorebirds, sea turtles and seashells. In other words, biodiversity. Part of the exhilaration I feel on my summer vacation comes from the wildlife I encounter while there. So it seems particularly fitting that Ensia published my article on environmental DNA (eDNA) this month.  In it, I … Continue reading Beaches and biodiversity

Tigers and turtles

Few creatures are more charismatic than tigers.  Big, beautiful, and powerfully ferocious, tigers embody traits that captivate people immediately — whether we like to admit it or not.  That attraction has become their ruin.  As writer Sharon Guynup and photographer Steve Winter chronicle in their book Tigers Forever, the skyrocketing market for tiger parts in China has fast-tracked their demise.  Fewer than 3,200 tigers now remain … Continue reading Tigers and turtles

Bats and cats

No, not cats eating bats. Or bats spreading rabies to cats. Rather, my two most recent articles tell two very different stories about of these different groups of mammals. U.S. GovBig-eared-townsend-fledermaus The first article appears in the April issue of The Observer of Jefferson County. Wind energy is supposed to be green; a clean alternative to fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. … Continue reading Bats and cats

Leopards in Iran? Who knew?

I’ve always loved the big cats. As a kid, I covered my bedroom wall with posters of lions and tigers and pumas (never bears – although bears are great too). I ordered the posters along with my paperbacks through (I think) Scholastic Achievement Books. Every month at school we’d get a chance to buy something new, and it was one indulgence my mother never protested. … Continue reading Leopards in Iran? Who knew?

Saving places

We protect what we value. For some of us, it’s life on Earth in all its wondrous forms. For others, it’s the history that helped shape and define our culture. And for lucky souls like me, it’s both. But the competing priorities of modern society often seem to conspire against such quaint notions. So, to ensure that these treasures endure despite the whims of a … Continue reading Saving places

God’s eye view of God’s country

Maybe it was the frigid temperatures of the polar vortex. Or perhaps it was that crazy cocktail the bartenders at Busboys and Poets crafted specially for the DC Science Café. But as Paul Woods of SkyTruth spelled out the blunt future of environmental remote sensing – that soon nothing will be hidden from view – I thought about wilderness. In truth, I didn’t try the … Continue reading God’s eye view of God’s country