The weather outside is frightful

Back in the day they used to call it global warming – or even the greenhouse effect, a handy metaphor to explain how the earth’s atmosphere could be warming up. “They” back then meant Sen. Al Gore. In the 1980s I had the opportunity to hear Gore speak at environmental conferences and congressional hearings while I worked for the Ecological Society of America in Washington … Continue reading The weather outside is frightful

Bird sex and bar stools

Long ago and far away I was a field assistant studying bobolinks for one of my Cornell professors, Tom Gavin, as an undergraduate intern. I went out each morning into dew-drenched meadows at Cornell’s Biological Field Station at Shackelton Point on Oneida Lake, and watched tiny birds that had migrated thousands of miles from their winter home in South America to nest in upstate New … Continue reading Bird sex and bar stools

Celebrating conservation film

Every fall for the past 12 years the historic town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia hosts the American Conservation Film Festival (ACFF) for four days. I’ve been involved with ACFF for eight or nine of those years (I honestly can’t remember when I started) as a member of the Board and now as a selector. That means I get to watch all the films submitted – … Continue reading Celebrating conservation film

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