May 20, 2022

Earth Day 2022 – Resisting Panic

More than 30 years ago James E. Hansen, the eminent American physicist, told a U.S. Senate hearing in the hot and dry summer of 1988 that the Earth was warmer than it had ever been since the invention of modern instrumentation, and that “with 99 percent confidence” the cause was human-induced global warming. As a moment in contemporary American environmental history, Hansen’s appearance before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ranks with the …

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Moving In To Benzonia

It was chilly and sunny the April day earlier this month when the truck from Kentucky arrived in Michigan. It held all of Gabrielle’s belongings. Over the next several hours we carried them into the Benzonia house. Though we’ve been married nearly five years, this transport of furniture and appliances, books, clothing, and all manner of other goods formalized a momentous change in our lives. For the first time we’d be living together at a …

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Arizona’s Water Supply Peril

Due to the first-ever formal federal water shortage declaration issued in August 2021, Colorado River deliveries to Arizona this year are cut more severely than in any state. Arizona will lose 170 billion gallons. That’s a third of the water that is transported each year in the Central Arizona Project, and 8% of the state’s annual water consumption. More losses are projected. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation warns that Colorado River flows will continue to drop. …

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Lessons of Endurance

BENZONIA – You might have heard. Last week, in Antarctic coastal waters 10,000 feet deep, shipwreck explorers combing the bottom of the Weddell Sea found the surprisingly intact hull of the Endurance, the explorer ship that sank in 1915.  It’s a singular event that joins a chapter in calamitous nautical history with contemporary expedition, bravery, diligence, and technology. Also this: Infused in Ernest Shackleton’s decision to sail into dangerous waters, and the brutal winter of …

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Report From Virginia Marks My 40th Year Writing For The New York Times

TYSONS, VA –Corporations moved to exclusive gated suburban campuses after World War Two to escape traffic, crowds, and big city clamor. Now companies are designing city hubbub into new suburban mixed-use headquarters that merge office buildings with shops, restaurants, hotels and parks that are open to the public. One of the prominent examples is in this suburb close to Washington, D.C. where Capital One just added a 1 million square-foot mixed-use building to its 24-acre …

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30 Days, 11 States, 7700 Miles, 45 Interviews in the Age of Covid; Triple Vaxxed and Home Safe

SOMERSET, KY – The worst years of my career, 2008 to 2010, I served as communications director for two national non-profits seeking public interest advances in clean energy and global climate change. The work was interesting enough. But I had a hard time pitching good stories that I should be the one writing. These last two years have been nearly as frustrating. The pandemic shut down over a decade of national and international reporting on …

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Wells Run Dry For Thousands of Arizona Families

PHOENIX — Three weeks into a trip to Arizona to report on the state’s magnifying water-scarce condition I’m becoming more expert in a contemporary American story that pits a state’s unyielding capitalist model of growth against Mother Earth’s power to change the rules of the game. In its basic boundaries what’s happening here is a story of a state’s interest in coming to terms with the immensity of the water supply challenge it faces, its …

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Michigan’s Annual Groundwater Use For Agriculture is 187 Billion Gallons

NOTTAWA, MI – In early July, a breeze slipped over a treeline of tall maples and stirred shoulder-high stalks of corn on Larry Walton’s 500-acre farm. It was an encouraging sound, like whispered words of stability, security, and profit. But how long can that last?   At age 60, Walton was raised on his family’s farm here in St. Joseph County, along Michigan’s border with Indiana. The agriculture that he and some 850 other county farmers …

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Frontline Journalism Is A Foundation of Environmental Achievements and Institutional Strength

“The walls of the valley are made up of rocks, mountains in size, partly separated from each other by side cañons and gorges,” wrote John Muir of magnificent Yosemite Valley. “They are so sheer in front, and so compactly and harmoniously built together on a level floor, that the place, comprehensively seen, looks like some immense hall or temple lighted from above.” With this frontline account, published in the August 1890 edition of Century Magazine, the …

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Biden Working Hard To Sideline GOP Mash-Up Of Madness

BENZONIA – I’ve waited for this one from the Department of Justice. It’s been coming for weeks. Attorney General Merrick Garland sued Georgia on June 25, 2021, asserting that its despicable voter suppression law passed in March is illegal. The law, like others by Republican Legislatures in 13 more states, is designed to make it much harder for people of color to vote. But under the U.S. Voting Rights Act, discriminating against groups of people …

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