When American Governors and Moguls Came Together to Prevent Environmental
Catastrophe

A Historic 1908 Conference Transcended Party and Personal Interest for the ‘Common Good’

At the turn of the 20th century, floods, fires, and waste plagued the United States. Industries burned through resources and blew toxins into the air, with few restrictions. States and federal governments were only beginning to approach questions of the environment and did so in piecemeal ways.

In 1907, responding to the need to improve transportation, President Theodore Roosevelt tasked the Inland Waterways Commission with studying how to better manage rivers. The commissioners recognized a need for interstate coordination in this effort. Two in particular—Gifford Pinchot and William John “WJ” McGee—went …

I’m the Santa Cruz Otter. Why Shouldn’t I Bite Back?

Your Accusations Are Otterly Ridiculous—Humans Are the Real Aggressors on California’s Coast

Who are you to be calling me aggressive?

Yes, I’m the 5-year-old female otter from the waters off Santa Cruz, about whom you’ve been reading scary headlines.

Now, I do sometimes approach …

Is There Such a Thing as a Sustainable Mining Boom?

An Early-20th-Century Copper Company Has Lessons for the Industry Today

In the Western U.S. and the north of Chile, large-scale mining has produced similar landscapes of extraction: open-pit and underground mines, smelter stacks, and large masonry structures. Transportation networks connected …

Could Cannabis Help the American West Solve Its Thorniest Environmental Issues?

A Growing Industry, and an Entire Region, Wrestle with Questions Around Water, Land Use, and Conservation

The study of cannabis is a personal one for me. Outdoor cannabis production in the rural Western U.S. has its roots in back-to-the-land movements of the 1960s. That’s when counterculture …

There Is No ‘I’ in the Climate Crisis

Connection and Interdependence Can’t Capture Carbon But Can Get to the Root of the Problem

The environmentalist Paul Hawken says, “The most complex, radical climate technology is the human heart and mind, not a solar panel.” What would it mean to imagine the heart and …

Wildfire Size Doesn’t Matter

To Plan Ahead for Future Disasters, We Need to Prioritize Severity, Community Impact, and Environmental Damage

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, maintains a list of the “Top 20 Largest California Wildfires.” Lately, as ever more massive blazes erupt, it’s become …