In a year rich with environmental writing, it’s hard to narrow down my favorite examples. Here are five that made me take notice.
“Deep Intellect: Inside the Mind of an Octopus,” by Sy Montgomery (Orion)
If a visit to the New England Aquarium hadn’t already spurred me to quit eating octopus, this story would have done the trick. The author’s encounter with a Pacific octopus named Athena was humane and intimate without veering into Bambi territory.
“Tar Sands Showdown in the Nebraska Sandhills," by Ted Genoways (OnEarth)
Genoways takes a complex energy issue and makes it achingly human by taking us to the land of the Ogallala Aquifer. He introduces us to “cowboy poet” Ben Gotschall, a compelling and sympathetic main character.
“What is the price of an environmentalist’s vote?” by Glenn Hurowitz (Grist)
President Obama’s decision to delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline sparked a chain of virtual victory dances. Hurowitz provided some appropriate skepticism: “Approving the tar-sands pipeline will be an easy way for President Romney to give Big Oil a huge thank-you gift.”
“Malaria on the Rise as East African Climate Heats Up,” by Paul R. Epstein and Dan Ferber (Scientific American)
Published seven months before Epstein’s death, this article about the link between climate change and malaria in East Africa is infused with under-represented voices, narrative tension, and a strong sense of place.
“Quest for shark fins brings Mexican fishermen to American waters,” by Kevin Sieff (Washington Post)
Sieff, a good friend of mine, tracks some of the shark fins used in Asian soups to a corner of the Gulf of Mexico where fisheries laws are poorly enforced. But he doesn’t demonize the offenders, whose voices he includes too.
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