Hot Flash (From Outside Magazine)

John Davis Sets Off to Hike, Paddle, and Bike the Spine of the Continent By Adventure Ethics John Davis paddling in Congaree National Park. Photo: Susan Baycot Climate change, development, ranching, and oil and gas exploration tend to get a lot of ink when it comes to threats to wildlife in the Western United States. But wildlife corridors are another vital factor, and one that relates very closely to all the aforementioned variables because they allow wildlife to adapt to changes in their environment while maintaining vital migration patterns. The movement of keystone species, such as cougars, wolves, and bears, through these corridors—or “wildways”—is vital to balancing ecosystems, as wel

Natural Inheritance

Robert Paine is a super-famous ecologist, the first person to really nail down the process known as a “trophic cascade,” by which top predators have a forcing effect that deeply impacts the entire food web. Many years ago Paine did an experiment off the North Pacific coast, removing sea stars (formerly known as starfish, but they are not fish) from control plots. Despite their frequent appearance on childrens’ wallpaper, sea stars are gangster predators. A few weeks ago I came across one the length of my forearm at Pillar Point – with an 8-inch crab sticking out of its belly. The sea star everts its stomach directly over its prey and begins digesting – wow – so I was actually witnessing

Nature’s Tipping Point—Part 1

Over the next several weeks I’m going to intersperse my usual kinds of blogs with a series featuring Michael Soule. Michael is widely considered the “father” of conservation biology, a field he helped establish in order to bring scientific rigor to conservation practices. I profile him in depth in my book, The Spine of the Continent. In today’s blog, Michael confronts the paradox of human success. As a species we have proliferated partly due to what he dubs “pro-life” impulses including humanitarianism; animalism; and conservationism. Our deeper rooted impulses – the emotional brain, which really controls our behavior – always misleads us and has resulted in monumentally destructive consequ

Timeless

The other night an old friend from LA was in town and came to dinner. He’d just finished adapting a nonfiction memoir for the screen – that’s what he does for a living. He said he was pretty satisfied with his work, and had “followed the Joseph Campbell hero stuff” carefully, so he feels the screenplay is structurally sound. Coincidentally, I happened to be reading A Fire in the Mind, a biography of Campbell. Campbell performed a vast cultural service in putting his arms around all world mythology and telling us that myths are the source of our self-realization — the observing ego needs a mirror by which to assess its progress, and myths provide it. He advocated deliberately seeing yourse

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