The Case for Renewal - National Geographic

In this piece, which was commissioned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, I wrote about what 2070 might look like if we do everything right on climate and conservation. I really enjoyed imagining a genuinely good future, and sketching out a road map to get there. Read this if you need a clearer sense of what you’re fighting FOR, not just what you are fighting against.

By Any Seeds Necessary - Wired

In this feature I take on organic farming, GMOs, and ‘regenerative agriculture’ and propose we mash the best of all these approaches together to create something that can not only adapt to climate change but can help ameliorate it. It also features me eating peanut butter sandwiches on a 7-hour California road trip.

How to Stop Freaking Out and Tackle Climate Change - New York Times

I got a really fantastic response from this op-ed, in which I offer readers a simple five-step plan to move past anxiety and depression over climate change and become an active part of the solution. Hint: the secret to improving your mental health, as well as the health of the planet, is collective action, not individual sacrifice. Read and share!

Illustration by Evan Cohen

Here’s What It Was Like to Get Arrested During an Environmental Protest - Sierra

I had mixed feelings when I was asked to write a piece about getting arrested during a sit-in at Oregon’s Governor’s office protesting a fossil fuel project. I didn’t want to center myself when many others face far more risk and impact and have fought harder and longer. However, I did want to share my experience for those who might be considering civil disobedience and want a sense of what it is like. So in the spirit of “service journalism” I decided to go ahead and share my own story. But I want to be super clear that others—notably Indigenous people along the Klamath and impacted landowners—have been fighting way longer than I have and have put way more on the line. I risked arrest in part because I have lots and lots of layered privilege that made doing so easier and less risky for me. There are infinite ways to fight for climate justice and this is just one approach that makes sense for some people. If civil disobedience makes sense to you and you are considering it, I hope my experience is useful. But this fight isn’t about me—it is about US—a wonderful, hopeful group of people who love the land, from Southern Oregon Rising Tide to Rogue Climate to tribal youth to ranchers and fishers.

Tending Soil - Emergence

For this piece about humans creating soil, I got to delve into myth and emotion and write about soil nutrient cycling like a poet. I really enjoyed the process! Illustrations by the very talented Jia Sung.

Outlaw Country - The Atavist

This story is very different from my usual work. It is not about the environment, except insofar as it is about how the environment of a remote part of Eastern Oregon led to violence. Ultimately, it is about how two men, off the grid, outside the shadow of law enforcement, both armed and ideologically committed to self-reliance, decided to solve their problems. Hint: it ended in blood.

How rats became an inescapable part of city living - National Geographic

In this story for National Geographic, I toured Manhattan with a rat expert, cuddled a rat on Long Island, watched terriers hunt rats in Washington D.C. and tried–and alas, failed–to eat rats in New Zealand. I came away with a profound respect for these clever, kind synanthropes.

How a 6-Year-Old Survived Being Lost in the Woods - Outside

In this story for Outside Magazine, I write about a little boy who got lost in the Oregon woods in the 1980s–and then walked some 16 miles to safety, on his own, in the dark, in near-freezing temperatures. He was six years old.

Today, Cody is nearly 40. To write the story, we met up with his mother Marcie and a member of the search party to figure out his route through the Blue Mountains. Then we hiked some of the way with my own six-year-old son.

When Conservationists Kill Lots (and Lots) of Animals - The Atlantic

Invasive species are sometimes trapped, poisoned, and shot in large numbers to save native species from extinction. Some scientists say the bloodshed isn’t worth it.

The image at left is from my field reporting for this trip, which took me to the beautiful and strange novel ecosystem that is central Australia.

The Next Standing Rock? A Pipeline Battle Looms in Oregon - New York Times

A river seen from above, with wooded shores

I wrote this op-ed with Don Gentry, Chairman of the Klamath Tribes. We oppose a pipeline project that would endanger the Klamath River and the ancestral homelands of the Klamath people, as well as contribute to climate change.

Process of Elimination - Wired

sun-bleached skull of small marsupial with large eye orbits on red sand

How far are we willing to go to save species? Are we willing to kill? To meddle in evolution? This feature in Wired magazine looks at conservation at the dawn of the CRISPR gene editing age. What if the only way to save the wild is to engineer it?

A Very Old Man for a Wolf - Outside

This is one I am really proud of. A look at one wolf and one man over nearly a decade in Eastern Oregon. In their story are all the tensions of wildlife management in the Anthropocene, plus bone piles.

Why fake islands might be a real boon for science - Nature

The Seasteading movement is getting close to building its first prototype, an artificial archipelago where people will live, play and do research. I report, from Tahiti!

The Case for Interwoven Decoupling - The Breakthrough Journal

Should environmentalists embrace technology or get closer to nature? Both, duh. This essay paints a picture of a future in which humans have lightened our impact on the rest of Earth’s species but deepened our personal engagement with non-human nature. Plus, my brother drew the sketch of Utopia that accompanies it!

Why OR7 is a celebrity - High Country News

A man bends over as he arranges wood to make a fire in a pasture with a blue sky behind him.

This story was reported quite near my home in Klamath Falls. I spent some time with John Stephenson tracking wolves and talking about what makes some wolves famous and others anonymous.

The Anthropologist and His Old Friend, Who Became a Jaguar -- National Geographic online

The close-up face of a nonplussed looking jaguar

We’re in a motorized canoe on our slow way to the Matsigenka village of Tayakome—unreachable by any road, deep in the heart of Manú National Park in Peru…

This Park in Peru Is Nature ‘in Its Full Glory’—With Hunters -- National Geographic

Elias Machipango Shuverireni picks up his long, palm-wood bow and his arrows tipped with sharpened bamboo. We’re going monkey hunting in Peru’s Manú National Park—a huge swath of protected rain forest and one of the most biodiverse parks in the world.

In the Dry West, Waiting for Congress -- New York Times

The mouth of the Klamath River, where it meets the Pacific Ocean in California. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Klamath Falls, Ore. — DROUGHT in the West is an ugly thing. Rivers trickle away to nothing, fires rage, crops fail, ranchers go broke, tribal people watch fish die. As Westerners fight over the little water left, tempers crack, lawsuits fly and bitterness coats whole communities like fine dust.

To Taste Tasmania, Take a Chef-Led Foraging Trip -- Nat Geo's Plate Blog

Moyle forages for saltbush, a coastal plant used to season dishes featuring Tasmanian produce, meat, and seafood. Photograph by Emma Marris

Creating haute locavore cuisine in Tassie has its challenges. The island has a robust fishing fleet—but no fresh fish market. Nearly everything is sent to Sydney and Melbourne. “Tasmanian” wines are nearly all produced off island with Tasmanian grapes—though Moyle lives on one of the few vineyards that makes its own wine. Imported produce is sprayed against pests, which icks Moyle out. And the foraging is somewhat slim. A keen backpacker told me that he’s extra careful to bring enough food rations when he heads out on a Tasmanian trek. “There’s hardly any bush tucker at all; you’d starve out there.”

Fishing for the first americans -- Nature

Here are some of the tools they used at the Cooper’s Ferry dig…to eat cheese on their snack break. Archaeologists love their tools! Photo: Emma Marris

A feature on the increasing momentum behind looking for the first Americans in the west–including offshore in the Pacific. I went to Idaho to visit Loren Davis’s Cooper’s Ferry dig for this story and got to see them pull wolverine teeth thousands of years old out of the sediment.

Handle with Care -- Orion

Crater Lake from the Watchman Overlook. Photo Emma Marris

A piece for Orion on whether or not our obligations to save species justify meddling in wilderness areas.

Here’s an audio interview I did about the piece.

How to Mend the Conservation Divide -- New York Times

An Op-Ed, written with Greg Aplet. Here, we argue that “old” and “new” conservation aren’t opposites, but rather complementary parts of a diverse, bet hedging conservation strategy.

New conservation’ is an expansion of approaches, not an ethical orientation

My son and I heading into the wilderness

In this piece in the journal Animal Conservation, I respond to a critique of my work by three well-respected conservation biologists: Brian Miller, Michael Soulé and John Terborgh. Their critique is here: ‘New conservation’ or surrender to development? Michelle Marvier also replied, here: ecumenical conservation. The ‘fight’ between traditional conservation and ‘new conservation’ is a distraction. We all agree on 95% of science and 95% of values. Our differences are real but very minor in comparison to our shared objectives. Save species, populations and ecosystems! Leave a green, diverse and surprising world to our children! Revel in the wonders of the Earth!

Let Kids Run Wild in the Woods -- Slate

Photo by Matthew Browning

Is “leave no trace” a recipe for “have no fun” for kids visiting natural areas?


Beyond Food and Evil -- Breakthrough Journal

“Where Waters seeks minimal preparation of ingredients, Patterson and Redzepi seek to intensify their essence through technology. Fresh ingredients are not the end, as they are for Waters; they are the beginning. ‘To make this soup you will need peas so fresh and sweet that you could mistake them for candy,’ Patterson begins his recipe for Chilled English Pea Soup. ‘And a Thermomix,’ he continues. ‘Without both, this recipe is not for you.’”
The Breakthrough Institute Journal

Rethinking predators: Legend of the wolf -- Nature

Predators are supposed to exert strong control over ecosystems, but nature doesn’t always play by the rules.

Want to become an urban naturalist? Try trailing a toddler -- Grist

For this piece, I wrote about how hard it is to walk around the block at a toddler’s pace.

Hipsters Who Hunt -- Slate

A Facebook favorite. I got some great email with personal stories from new hunters when this ran.

Hope in the Age of Man -- New York Times

New York Times
Here’s an op-ed about the Anthropocene I wrote with Peter Kareiva, the chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy; Joseph Mascaro, a postdoc at the Carnegie Institution for Science and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Erle Ellis is an associate professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.