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How to Teach Your Kids About Zoos – September 13, 2017

We owe our children honest answers about the morality of animal captivity

On September 6, National Geographic Kids posted a Family Field Guide, "How to Answer Challenging Questions About Animals at the Zoo," by Laura Goertzel, digital director for the magazine. Goertzel was forced to consider the problem of animal captivity when a bobcat called Ollie escaped from her cage at the National Zoo in Washington, DC in January. Goertzel's kids began asking questions about how Ollie escaped and why Ollie would want to do so. 

photo of lions at national zooPhoto by Steve Sarro, Smithsonian’s National ZooIn January, a female bobcat known as Ollie escaped her cage at the National Zoo. She was returned to… more

by: Kenneth Brower

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Down From the Mountain – December 18, 2015

Remembering Douglas Tompkins

Mountaineers fall into four classes, roughly, when it comes to the arc of their lives. The first group, the largest, is composed of men and women obsessed with climbing, skiing, or river running in their teens and twenties, even into their thirties, at which point zealotry fades. They unrope and come down to earth, take up sensible jobs, raise families, spend more and more of their time indoors. The second group is made up of the climbing bums, ski bums, and river rats who never really come down at all. You can find these people in Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley, or at the base of the Tetons, or tossing dry… more

by: Kenneth Brower

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Overpopulation Must Remain a Key Issue for Environmentalists – April 11, 2014

A second take on Alan Weisman’s Countdown

If the Earth Island Institute community is a family, as we like to say we are, then there should be dinner-table arguments,  and I’m going to start one now. Having muttered to myself for a couple of days about “Numbers Game,” a review in Earth Island Journal’s Spring issue of Alan Weisman’s book Countdown, I need to vent and thump the table.

Crowdphoto by James Cridland, on Flickr

The reviewer, Tom Athanasiou of EcoEquity, an Earth Island project, does the craziest dance with the book, with its subject matter – population – and with himself for… more

by: Kenneth Brower

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A Vision for Restoring Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley – December 19, 2013

It’s time to undo a great American mistake

Excerpted from Hetch Hetchy: Undoing a Great American Mistake (Heyday Press). Buy a copy of the book today.

Editor’s Note: A hundred years ago today, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Raker Act, allowing for the construction of a hydroelectric dam and reservoir in the United States’ oldest national park, Yosemite. The fight over the impoundment of the Tuolumne River and the flooding of the Hetch Hetchy Valley was a crucible for the American environmental movement. Many of today’s environmental debates – how, for example, do we balance human needs against the desire to preserve the world we inherited? – echo of the battle over Hetch Hetchy.

Today,… more

by: Kenneth Brower

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A Century Later, the Battle for Hetch Hetchy Continues – September 30, 2013

The fight over a dam in Yosemite National Park marked the birth of the environmental movement

Editor’s Note: A hundred years ago, in 1913, the US Congress passed the Raker Act, which allowed for the construction of a massive dam in Yosemite National Park to feed the water and power needs of the City of San Francisco. As Ken Brower writes in his new book, Hetch Hetchy: Undoing a Great American Mistake (Heyday Press), “The environmental movement as we know it was forged in the fight against Hetch Hetchy Dam. No previous debate over the American landscape had so engaged and enraged the American public.”

Below is an excerpt from the book. Tomorrow – Tuesday, October 1 – the group Restore Hetchy Hetchy is sponsoring more

by: Kenneth Brower

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