Four excuses for not hitting the gym this weekend. (Yeah, our resolutions suddenly seem less urgent, too.)
John Eligon in the New York Times on roughnecks and smooth lines: Oil shale deposits have brought droves of young men to Williston, North Dakota, for labor-intensive, high-paying jobs. The town was once a sleepy place, but as Keith Schneider reported earlier this year for OnEarth, "a sense of personal menace is enveloping the area." Nobody knows that better than Williston's women. Sexual harassment, assault, and domestic violence are increasing as gender ratios skew and libidos stay steady. As Eligon puts it, “high heels and skirts are as rare around here as veggie burgers.” Female residents, who often fear leaving the house alone, report men dragging them into cars, following them around Walmart, and even propositioning them "to strip naked and serve them beer at their house while they watched mixed martial arts fights on television." Stay classy, frackers.
Tony Dokoupil for Newsweek on outsourcing the ocean: Robots are taking over the sea. Just a year after James Cameron’s much-hyped journey into the Mariana Trench, deep-sea diving is devolving into an exploit devoid of humans. "The body is a pain,” says marine geologist and robot enthusiast Robert Ballard, “It has to go to the bathroom. It has to be comfortable. But the spirit is indestructible. It can move at the speed of light.” Scientific funding for ocean exploration is at an all time low, and robots are increasingly replacing humans in the deep, if expeditions occur at all. Cameron never finished his multi-dive project, and many other explorers have lost financial support for similar ventures. In Newsweek’s first cover story since the magazine ditched print for digital, Dokoupil accompanies legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle to the depths of the Pacific. On the way down, he discusses whether human eyes will ever see some of the last charted places on earth.
James Somers for Outside Magazine on the not-so-great outdoors: When did something as simple as going outside become so complicated? New Yorker James Somers examines the frustrations of turning to nature to escape society, only to discover society all over again. Enter camping permits and outdoor stores convincing you that “if you were to take old John Muir’s lead and roam around the High Sierra with nothing but a notebook and bread tied to your belt you would probably die.” And what of the places we visit? How have our wild areas come to need protection from over use? Somers struggles with his desire to spend time away from walls, the cliché of connecting with nature, and the nagging knowledge that “nature does not come naturally to people in my world … For us, going outside is a sport.”
Elizabeth Royte for OnEarth on fracking the Amish: The women of Williston aren’t the only ones grappling with what to do when fracking comes to town. Royte takes a trip to Pennsylvania's Amish Country to meet farmers, who are off the grid but under pressure from energy companies all the same. Many families sold their mineral rights (for cheap) decades ago, not realizing a new method of gas extraction would one day come to disrupt their lands, their community, and possibly, their water. The Amish, who do their best to avoid conflict, are bracing themselves for a fight, even as disagreements arise amongst themselves. “'This friction is caused by greed. Scripture says that at the end of times, it will take over. I could have been engulfed in it, too: we all like to make money. But I was taught at home that money not worked for' -- money from leasing, that is -- 'is no good.'”