Synthesizing Ideas to Write with Authority

THE OPEN NOTEBOOK Sometimes, as a reader, you can feel when you’re in good hands and headed somewhere interesting. But how can writers bring this kind of authority to their own work? It requires taking charge of a story to prioritize selectiveness over comprehensiveness, momentum over excessive citation, and rigorous thinking over “balanced” circumspection. It … More Synthesizing Ideas to Write with Authority

Humanity Is Flushing Away One of Life’s Essential Elements

THE ATLANTIC ***Honorable mention for the 2022 science writing award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors*** We broke phosphorus. In a field of sugar beets outside Cambridge, England, Simon Kelly stands above a narrow trench gouged into the rusty earth, roughly 15 feet deep and 30 feet long. “Welcome to the pit,” says … More Humanity Is Flushing Away One of Life’s Essential Elements

An artist set out to paint climate change. She ended up on a journey through grief

LOS ANGELES TIMES It had been a long day and Daniela Molnar’s mind was wandering when she saw the shape. The shape of what was already lost; the shape of something new that had just come into being. Little did she know, it was a shape that would expose a profound feeling of grief within … More An artist set out to paint climate change. She ended up on a journey through grief

Cancel Earthworms

THE ATLANTIC ***Anthologized in the Best American Science and Nature Writing 2021*** ***Honorable mention for the 2020 Outstanding Feature Story Award from the Society of Environmental Journalists*** The “crazy worms” remaking forests aren’t your friendly neighborhood garden worms. Then again, those aren’t so great either. On a sweltering July day, I follow Annise Dobson down … More Cancel Earthworms

An Oasis of Open Water

HAKAI ***Winner of the 2019 Best of the Northwest Science Writing Award from the Northwest Science Writers Association.*** Inuit in Canada and Greenland want to protect an ecological wonder—a massive Arctic polynya—at the center of their world. The little auks are hard to spot among the rocky rubble that lines the shore of northwest Greenland. … More An Oasis of Open Water

Little Weed, Big Problem

HIGH COUNTRY NEWS A genetically modified grass is loose in Oregon. It could have been much worse. In the failing light of an unusually warm January day, Jerry Erstrom and I race along a dirt track behind Rod Frahm’s white pickup. Here, near Ontario, Oregon, a stone’s throw from the Idaho border, Frahm grows onions, … More Little Weed, Big Problem

Boom and Busted

BIOGRAPHIC In trying to untangle a mysterious herring collapse from the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, scientists in Prince William Sound are revealing just how resilient—and unpredictable—marine ecosystems can be. On a cold day in June, Scott Pegau leans toward the passenger window of a Cessna floatplane and peers out at the teal … More Boom and Busted