The Environment

Articles from The Atlantic Monthly's archive and related links

"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

"The Fuel Subsidy We Need" (January/February 2003)
Oil dependence is still the Achilles' heel of the American empire. It doesn't have to be—and if we don't want to lose economic ground to Europe, it can't be. By Ricardo Bayon

"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

"Hybrid Vigor" (November 2000)
A funny thing happened on the way to the demise of the plug-in car. By Gregg Easterbrook

"Saving Salmon, or Seattle?" (October 2000)
The Northwest is obsessed with the fate of salmon—except that, as is often true, the battle is really over how people want to live. By James Fallows

"Green Surprise?" (September 2000)
Al Gore is seen as a fanatical tree-hugger, zealous for regulation. George W. Bush is seen as a pro-oil businessman, heedless of pollution. The environmental records of these men support neither view. By Gregg Easterbrook

"The Return of the Grizzly" (September 2000)
Parts of the West are braced for a second coming. By David Whitman

"Breaking the Global Warming Gridlock" (July 2000)
Both sides on the issue of greenhouse gases frame their arguments in terms of science, but each new scientific finding only raises new questions—dooming the debate to be a pointless spiral. It's time, the authors argue, for a radically new approach: if we took practical steps to reduce our vulnerability to today's weather, we would go a long way toward solving the problem of tomorrow's climate. By Daniel Sarewitz and Roger Pielke Jr.

"Regulation By Shaming" (April 2000)
Forcing companies to disclose health and safety information can improve customer choices and industry practices—but it can also distort perceptions of what should be changed. By Mary Graham

"Can Coffee Drinkers Save the Rain Forest?" (August 1999)
Growing coffee the old-fashioned way—in the shade—has enormous environmental benefits. Consumers could give the effort a push. By Jennifer Bingham Hull

"Winning the War for the West" (July 1999)
The conventional view holds that ranchers are federally subsidized despoilers of the natural world. But even some environmentalists are beginning to change their minds. By Perri Knize

"Eden: A Gated Community" (June 1999)
The story of a single-minded businessman turned environmentalist who bought a thousand square miles of Chile, determined to establish a wilderness park. He thought Chile would be grateful. By William Langewiesche

"Flouting the Convention" (May 1999)
The ongoing campaign to ban all commercial whaling is driven by politics rather than science, and is setting a terrible precedent. By William Aron, William Burke, and Milton Freeman

"Can of Worms" (March 1999)
There is a time-honored method whereby the skilled baiters of the Florida Panhandle can call worms out of the ground by the hundreds and even thousands—some of the best earthworms in the world, fishermen claim. One day the government decided to levy a new tax on this harvest. By Kenneth Brower

"The Liquid Earth" (January 1999)
If asked to name America's deadliest and costliest form of natural disaster, many people would come up last with the disaster that should come up first: the landslide. By Brenda Bell

"The NEXT Industrial Revolution" (October 1998)
"Eco-efficiency" is the current buzzword in industry—but all it really promises to do is to slow down the rate of environmental destruction. Two prominent designers propose a radical new strategy. By William McDonough and Michael Braungart

"The Danger of Space Junk" (July 1998)
In a place without landfills, what goes up had better come down. By Steve Olson

"A Good Climate for Investment" (June 1998)
The steps we need to take to protect the environment could create a surge of economic growth. By Ross Gelbspan

"A Special Moment in History" (May 1998)
The fate of the planet will be determined in the next few decades, through our technological, lifestyle, and population choices. By Bill McKibben

"The Great Climate Flip-flop" (January 1998)
There is good reason to believe that global warming could trigger a "climate flip" that results in not warmth, as popular scenarios would have it, but a catastrophic cooling. By William H. Calvin

"No Middle Way on the Environment" (December 1997)
The authors, environmental scientists, warn that in the debate between "cornucopians" and informed prophets of the dangers posed by overconsumption, splitting the difference won't work—and that the cornucopians are wrong. By Paul R. Ehrlich, Gretchen C. Daily, Scott C. Daily, Norman Myers, and James Salzman

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

"To Whale or Not to Whale" (October 1997)
A controversy over subsistence and commercial hunting threatens to tear apart the International Whaling Commission and worsen the problem of illegal whaling. By Mark Derr

"Do We Consume Too Much?" (June 1997)
From a strictly materialistic point of view, the author argues, the common idea that increasing consumption will lead to depletion and scarcity is mistaken. By Mark Sagoff

"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

"Mideast Oil Forever?" (April 1996)
Congressional budget-cutters threaten to end America's leadership in new energy technologies that could generate hundreds of thousands of high-wage jobs, reduce damage to the environment, and limit our costly, dangerous dependency on oil from the unstable Persian Gulf region. By Joseph J. Romm and Charles B. Curtis

"The Rancher Subsidy" (January 1996)
America's ranchers, who use vast amounts of subsidized federal land, remain politically powerful. But for environmental and financial reasons they are under pressure as never before to change the way they manage cattle. By Todd Oppenheimer

"The Trouble With Dams" (August 1995)
The past half century has been the great era of dam building in America. Hundreds of rivers have been harnessed by thousands of dams for purposes of irrigation, flood control, and electricity. Now we are beginning to understand the environmental and economic costs. By Robert S. Devine

"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

"Empowering Species" (February 1995)
The Endangered Species Act, in the view of its opponents, threatens to usurp so much private property and capsize so many jobs that it may wreck our very economy. Proponents declare the law inadequately enforced and demand that its protections be extended to more species at a faster rate. Is there a way to make the law more responsive to both sides? By Charles C. Mann and Mark L. Plummer

"Can Selfishness Save the Environment?" (September 1993)
Let's not pin all our hopes on good will to change environmental practices, the authors argue. Let's harness, instead, a more reliable and fundamental force. By Matt Ridley and Bobbi S. Low

"How Many Is Too Many?" (February 1993)
Debates about overpopulation tend to swing between two extremes: the argument that we are heading for eventual catastrophe and the argument that we will somehow work things out. The author asks: "Isn't there some better way to think about this?" By Charles C. Mann

"The Butterfly Problem" (January 1992)
Grounded in the "Noah Principle"—the view, shared by many conservationists, that all species have a right to exist—the Endangered Species Act insists that we attempt to save every threatened species. This inflexibility, the authors say, has now become economically untenable. By Charles C. Mann and Mark L. Plummer

"Grey Owl" (January 1990)
He became famous as a half-Scot, half-Apache defender of wildlife, and some believe he should rank with John Muir and Rachel Carson in the environmentalists' pantheon. But he was not exactly what he seemed. By Kenneth Brower

"A Toxic Ghost Town" (July 1989)
Ten years later, scientists are still assessing the damage from Love Canal. By Michael H. Brown

"The Destruction of Dolphins" (July 1989)
In spite of laws intended to protect them, federal indifference and cruel fishing methods once again endanger dolphins. By Kenneth Brower

"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 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 Last Traffic Jam" (October 1972)
Too many cars, too little oil. An argument for the proposition that "less is more." By Stewart Udall

Related Links

National Council for Science and the Environment

Conservation International Homepage

E Magazine




The Endangered Species Program of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The Environmental Law Institute

The Environmental Protection Agency

Greenpeace International

Living on the Earth

National Audubon Society

The Natural Resources Defense Council

The Nature Conservancy

Rainforest Action Network

The Sierra Club

United Nations Economic and Social Development Web Site

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

For more links related to environmental issues see Project Vote Smart's Issue Links: Environment

Copyright © 2001 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.