The Ancient Maya Cosmology of Conservation

In Their Worldview, Humans Were Not Superior to Nature. They Were But One Element Needed to Maintain Universal Balance.

In the middle of the jungle in central Belize excavating an ancient Maya water temple, I’m at the edge of a sacred pool, praying to Chahk, the Maya rain god, for it not to rain. At least not until my team of archaeologists finishes excavating a ceremonial platform.

Maya farmers in the area, who rely on rainfall to nourish crops, offer up different prayers. For over 4,000 years, Maya families, commoner and wealthy, have relied on water from the skies. Without rain, crops are decimated, river trade ceases, and drinking supplies …

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How Hawai‘i Forces Us to Redefine the Meaning of ‘Native’

An Environmental Historian Argues That Being Indigenous Is More Alchemy Than Fact

I was born in the Territory of Hawai‘i, three weeks before statehood. As a kid I played in its dirt, ran around in the rain (my hometown of Hilo is …

L.A. Is Drowning in Its Own Water Pretensions

Civic Leaders' Fantastical Claims of Water Self-Sufficiency May Endanger Southern California's Real Water Supplies

This time, “Chinatown” is fooling itself.

Los Angeles has a long history of water deceptions, a point made famously by Roman Polanski’s 1974 neo-noir film. But the massive self-sabotage of the …

How the Chesapeake Bay Formed American Identity

It's Been an Artery Through Which Democracy and Capitalism Flowed

When Captain Christopher Newport sailed into the Chesapeake Bay in 1607 to establish the first permanent English colony in North America, his goal was not freedom.

In that way, Newport, the …

Why the Planet Should Fear North Korean Nuclear Testing

Our Cold War History Shows the Deadly Fallout From Detonating Weapons in the Atmosphere

Fishermen in Japan peer wearily into the skies, fearful of the North Korean foreign minister’s recent warning that Pyongyang may conduct an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific. Earlier this …