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A for Effort

Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America
By Jon Mooallem
Penguin, 2013, 339 pages

Liam O’Brien isn’t a biologist by training or a professional conservationist. For much of his adult life he was an actor, appearing mostly in stage productions of Shakespeare. Then, one day in 1996, he spotted a western tiger swallowtail in the garden outside his bedroom window and fell deeply, hopelessly in love with butterflies. Fifteen years later, he has become, despite his lack of formal training, one of the top lepidopterists in…
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by: Jason Mark – Winter 2014

Chevron’s Revenge

Oil giant pursues a “scorched earth” campaign against its most dogged critic

Steven Donziger is getting smashed into the concrete like a spent cigarette butt. Chevron claims Steven Donziger and Ecuadorian villagers attempted to extort billions of dollars from the oil giant. Since Donziger is a lawyer — and lawyers aren’t always the most…
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by: Jason Mark – November 19, 2013

A Lesson from Washington’s GMO Labeling Initiative

Want GMO labeling? Then drive a wedge between Big Food and Big Ag.

They’re still counting the votes in Washington, but it appears that people in the Evergreen State have voted down Initiative 522, a measure that would have required a label for foods containing genetically modified ingredients. (Mail-in ballots could turn the tide, but…
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by: Jason Mark – November 6, 2013

What’s Fueling the Demand for the Palm Oil Destroying the Rainforests of Indonesia?

Health concerns and well-meaning efforts to cut GHGs, it turns out

Today Rainforest Action Network released an emotional video that reveals the horrible costs of our growing appetite for palm oil. The two-minute film shows that industrial palm plantations in Indonesia are driving to extinction the last populations of orangutans, a great ape…
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by: Jason Mark – October 9, 2013

The Plight of the Pollinators

The decline of native bumblebees, butterflies and moths poses a bigger threat for pollination than the loss of honeybees

It appears we may be on the verge of a new silent spring, a season marked, not by the absence of birdsong, but by the lack of insect buzzing. A range of flying invertebrates – from the iconic monarch butterfly, to moths…
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by: Jason Mark – October 2, 2013

Ecuador’s Yasuni Initiative: Down in Flames

Failure of conservation effort raises question about cash-for-land schemes

When it was announced in 2007, Ecuador’s Yasuni ITT-Initiative to protect an area of the Amazonian rainforest from oil drilling was hailed as a historic conservation effort. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said he wouldn’t allow oil extraction in parts of Yasuni National…
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by: Jason Mark – September 12, 2013

Wilderness’s Midlife Crisis

Don’t believe the haters: wilderness remains more important than ever

Today, September 3, is the birthday of the Wilderness Act, one of the most important US environmental laws on the books. Forty-nine years ago President Lyndon Johnson signed the act, which ranks among our most eloquent laws, distinguished by its especially poetic…
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by: Jason Mark – September 3, 2013

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