Monday, March 25, 2013

Pope Week + Turtles + A Two-Year Saga

Oh man, I wish I could let you know about all of the cool articles I have coming up in the next few weeks. I have already completed the interviews for...let's see...something like 10 or 12 new articles, at least 9 or which are due before the end of the month. There's going to be an awful lot of typing here over the next 7 days!

Anyway, I don't mean to be a tease. I can't tell you the topics of those upcoming articles, but I can point you to the pieces of mine that published last week. First up, my usual two Extinction Countdown articles for Scientific American:

5 Turtles from Nearly Extinct Species Fly Home to Hong Kong [my favorite article of the week]

Illegal Pet Trade Wiping Out Yellow-Crested Cockatoos

I also added a weekly link compendium to the Extinction Countdown roster. "Links from the Brink" will appear every Saturday. Here's the first installment.

Next up, this week's articles for Mother Nature Network, including two pieces about the new pope and the sad end to the saga of the Toomer's Corner oaks, which I've been writing about for the past two years.:

Beloved Auburn University oak trees to be cut down April 23

University of Tennessee gets OK for natural gas extraction on public land

Protect the environment, says Pope Francis

Pope blesses reporter's guide dog

New study links childhood asthma to living near traffic 

This coming week will bring all kinds of new and fun stuff -- more teasing, I know! -- so stay tuned to this blog or follow me on Twitter for the headlines as they happen.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Killer fungus, an amazing (re)discovery, and self-driving cars

Last week's articles covered some good and bad news, some great technology, and some interesting people.

First, this week's two Extinction Countdown articles for Scientific American:

Google Earth Inspires Rediscovery of Lost Butterfly Species

Bat-Killing Fungus Reaches South Carolina; Now Found in 21 States and 5 Provinces [this was also reprinted by Mother Jones]

Next up, my latest technology careers article for Today's Engineer. This technology is going to revolutionize the  a few decades.

Intelligent Transportation Careers Speed Ahead

And finally, a batch of articles for Mother Nature Network, covering all kinds of timely stories:

Pioneering MIT professors win coveted Turing Award, the 'Nobel Prize of computing' 

Does recycling cause you to consume more?

Hope and change: Will new pontiff take up global warming cause?

Monster mosquitoes about to invade Florida

There's LOTS more coming this week, much of which is already in the works (or even already turned in). Stay tuned for headlines as they happen.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cloning Extinct Species, Stolen Apes, Food Sovereignty and lots, lots more

What a week! I covered more than my usual number of endangered species stories, saw a long-in-the-works story appear, and touched upon some other odd and unusual topics.

First up, this week's two Extinction Countdown articles for Scientific American, which covered some really interesting subjects and created all kinds of interesting online discussions:

De-Extinction: Can Cloning Bring Extinct Species Back to Life?

(This was also reprinted over at Salon.)

Great Apes in Crisis: Thousands Poached and Stolen from the Wild Annually

Next up, my third article for Conservation magazine, a great piece about a really innovative idea for protecting both wildlife and habitat:

Pay It Forward - Wildlife premiums incentivize conservation in rural communities

I'm going to break this week's stories for Mother Nature Network into a few different subsections, starting with, yes, two more articles about endangered species:

Proposal to ban trade in polar bear parts fails at international wildlife conference

Fitness guru Tony Little lends his name to a critically endangered gazelle

My next MNN article is a great profile of a really inspirational leader:

Why Winona LaDuke is fighting for food sovereignty

And finally this week, here are a bit batch of other articles for MNN:

Politician apologizes for saying bike riders pollute the environment

Keep America Beautiful goes social for annual Great American Cleanup event

Warren Buffet's BNSF to test natural gas-powered trains

TSA to start allowing small knives on planes

Static may have caused Hindenburg disaster

This coming week will bring my latest careers article for Today's Engineer plus a whole bunch more. Follow me on Twitter for links as they go live!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

From the Archives: Editorial Cartoonist Uses Actual BP Oil to Draw Cartoons About BP Oil Spill

I just found out that one of my old publishers,, is in some sort of a transition period. Right now, the site says "we'll be back soon." I'm not sure what's happening on that front, but anyway, this was a good opportunity to dip into my Tonic archives. Here's one of my favorite short articles from my last few months there:

Editorial Cartoonist Uses Actual BP Oil to Draw Cartoons About BP Oil Spill
By John R. Platt | Monday, July 26, 2010

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Breen turned his outrage into art.

As a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, Steve Breen of The San Diego Union-Tribune is used to commenting on the issues of the day. That's his job, after all. But when it came to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, just drawing a cartoon wasn't enough.

So Breen hopped on a plane over the Fourth of July weekend. He flew from San Diego to New Orleans, then drove to Florida's Santa Rosa Island, where he spent the weekend collecting tar balls off the ocean beaches.

But Breen wasn't done yet. He took some of the gobs of oil home with him. Back at his art desk, he thinned the oil with gasoline, then used it as the ink in several new cartoons about the BP oil spill. In addition to criticizing BP itself, Breen's cartoons tackle America's addiction to oil and the lax regulation that allowed the accident to happen in the first place.

"I wanted to channel that outrage in a unique way," Breen told the Associated Press. "Since I'm in the powerful image business, I came up with the oil idea."

The cartoons use a mix of black India ink with spot color (brown, really) from the oil and gasoline. The results are powerful, unforgettable images.

"I was surprised by how well it turned out," Breen told the publishing industry magazine Editor & Publisher "because I just wasn’t sure I’d be able to work with the oil."

You can see Breen's BP cartoons, along with his other work, on the Creators Syndicate website.

(Afterword: I didn't get a chance to interview Breen for this piece, but I did exchange emails with him several times immediately after. Great cartoonist, great guy.)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Elephant ecosystems, helping the blind, climate vs. weather (and lots more)

Who says 13 is an unlucky number? I've got a baker's dozen worth of new articles to share with you today, and I find myself incredibly lucky to have been able to write them.

First up, this week's two Extinction Countdown articles for Scientific American:

What Happens When Forest Elephants Are Wiped Out in an Ecosystem?

Tragedy in New Zealand: Dozens of Critically Endangered Birds Dead, Cause Unknown

In addition to those two, a version of my previous article about drones protecting rhinos appears in the March 2013 issue of the print edition of Scientific American. Check it out on newsstands now.

Next up, one of my favorite articles of the year, my latest inspiring feature for Lion magazine. (This also includes three of my photos.)

The Iris Network: Maine's Lifeline for the Visually Impaired

And now, a whole bunch of articles for Mother Nature Network, which has been keeping me busy writing about all kinds of environmental and science stories. The first one is a great profile of a young businessman making a difference:

Jonas Falk earns a healthy profit helping school kids eat well

Weather forecasters and climate science have a stormy relationship

Students solve water woes by mimicking nature

Nobel Prize belonging to late DNA pioneer Francis Crick goes on the auction block

Poisoned mice to be dropped on Guam to kill invasive snakes

An egg that monitors air quality goes online around the world

'Inocente' becomes first Kickstarter-backed movie to win on Oscar night

New online guide ranks water filter systems

Sahara dust linked to rain and snow in California

That's it this time around -- which is good, because 14 would just be too many. I have a ton more in the pipeline, so follow me on Twitter for links as they happen. 

See you next week!