Spotlight April 2008

The Environment

From Henry David Thoreau to Annie Dillard, Bill McKibben, and Gregg Easterbrook—a selection of Atlantic writings in honor of Earth Day


Global Warming: Who Loses—and Who Wins? (April 2007)
Climate change in the next century (and beyond) could be enormously disruptive, spreading disease and sparking wars. It could also be a windfall for some people, businesses, and nations. A guide to how we all might get along in a warming world. By Gregg Easterbrook

The Real Roots of Darfur (April 2007)
The violence in Darfur is usually attributed to ethnic hatred. But global warming may be primarily to blame. By Stephan Faris

Some Convenient Truths (September 2006)
Runaway global warming looks all but unstoppable. Maybe that's because we haven't really tried to stop it. By Gregg Easterbrook

Will Frankenfood Save the Planet? (October 2003)
Over the next half century genetic engineering could feed humanity and solve a raft of environmental ills—if only environmentalists would let it. By Jonathan Rauch

1491 (March 2002)
New evidence suggests that before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than historians have thought. Indeed, the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact. By Charles C. Mann

The Profits of Doom (April 2001)
One of the most polluted cities in America learns to capitalize on its contamination. By William Langewiesche

Our Real China Problem (November 1997)
Industrialization has deeply polluted China's air, land, and water—a development with global implications. By Mark Hertsgaard

Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity (January 1997)
Norman Borlaug, the agronomist whose discoveries sparked the Green Revolution, has saved literally millions of lives, yet he is hardly a household name. By Gregg Easterbrook

An Explosion of Green (April 1995)
The forest cover of the eastern United States is today as extensive as it was prior to the American Revolution. This renewal of the eastern forest—largely the result of economic accident and largely unremarked—is, the author argues, the most important environmental story in the country. Nature has given us a gift; what remains to be seen is whether we can preserve it. By Bill McKibben

Can Selfishness Save the Environment? (September 1993)
In an article considered classic by some environmentalists, Matt Ridley and Bobbi S. Low argued that instead of fighting human nature, we should harness it—persuading people to protect the environment not for the sake of the community, but for the sake of self-interest.

Love Canal and the Poisoning of America (December 1979)
A documentation of the miseries and losses induced by the infamous Love Canal dump in Niagara Falls, New York. By Michael H. Brown

The Sound of Trees (August 1915)
Though Frost's first submission to The Atlantic was rejected, he went on to become a regular contributor, ultimately publishing thirty-one of his poems in the magazine. This poem, like much of his verse, paid homage to the natural world while teasing out hidden, sometimes darker, meanings.

The Force That Drives the Flower (November 1973)
What is it about fecundity that so appalls? Is it that with nature's bounty goes a crushing waste that threatens our own cheap lives? By Annie Dillard

The American Forests (August 1897)
Years after westward-moving settlers had felled and burned much of the country's woodland, the crusading naturalist John Muir urged Americans to safeguard the forests that remained. Spurred in part by Muir, President Theodore Roosevelt launched a major conservation program, creating the U.S. Forest Service in 1905 and preserving millions of acres of American wilderness.

Walking (June 1862)
Henry David Thoreau, the naturalist, philosopher, and author of such classics as Walden and "Civil Disobedience," contributed a number of writings to The Atlantic in its early years. The month after his death from tuberculosis, in May 1862, the magazine published "Walking," one of his most famous essays, which extolled the virtues of immersing oneself in nature and lamented the inevitable encroachment of private ownership upon the wilderness.

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