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September 9, 2014

Two years ago, as Indians sweated through 115-degree temperatures on the eve of an unusually late monsoon, the electricity grid collapsed across the entire northern tier of the country. The two successive blackouts that resulted represented the biggest power outage in history, affecting more than 620 million people. Airports, railways, and offices shut down. Streets were...

June 11, 2014

Yesterday Chile witnessed a truly remarkable moment in the history of environmental protection. And it’s one that holds lessons for all of us, whether the fight is against destructive mines, fossil fuel extraction, tar sands pipelines, or, in this case, a gargantuan hydroelectric project that would have disfigured one of the most pristine landscapes in the world.

By...

January 24, 2014

Call me naïve, but it took an embarrassing encounter with a giant python to make me aware of the dangers of viral news. About six months ago, one of my Facebook friends posted a story about a comatose drunk who had been eaten alive by a python in the south Indian state of Kerala. The accompanying photograph was the stuff of nightmares. I duly clicked the button that said “share.” Well, there’...

December 3, 2013

Part of OnEarth's Answers from the Past month, in which our contributors explore how contemporary thinking on sustainability has been influenced by wisdom handed down to us from previous generations. Read more here.

We weren’t exactly dirt-poor when I was growing up, not church-...

September 25, 2013

Okay, so we’re all depressed. The planet is going to hell in a bucket, Congress is a train wreck, the fossil fuel lobby is stomping us into the ground, the Keystone XL pipeline means game over for climate change.

Right? No, wrong. And here’s why. I’ve never been a Pollyanna, but all over the world I see remarkable things happening. In one multi-billion dollar mega-project after another, David is standing up to Goliath—and winning....

September 10, 2013

I’m not a car person. Living in Manhattan, with great public transportation, $12 bridge tolls, and $400-a month-parking, there’s no reason to be. But four years ago, like millions of others, I was captivated by the launch of a new car on the other side of the world—India’s tiny Tata Nano. So I found myself visiting an auto showroom in New Delhi to see what all the fuss was about.

By the time it hit the market, everyone in India knew the Nano’s creation myth. Tata’s chairman, Ratan...

June 17, 2013

Ask any of the tourists who mob Istanbul in the summer months if the city wants for greenery, and you’d get a blank look. No greenery? What about the glorious Gülhane Park, which winds its way around the walls of the 15th century Topkapi palace? Or the huge, leafy park between the Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque? How about all the shady pocket parks that shelter mosques, tea gardens, and the tombs of long-dead sultans?

On the other side of the Golden Horn, however, where the...

January 23, 2013

So much great environmental reporting these days, so many great TV documentaries. I don’t mean the nature porn on the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet, shows like Hogs Gone Wild and My Extreme Animal Phobia. I mean the real thing.

There was a terrific doc a few months ago, a 45-minute piece called “...