Erik Ness

Erik Ness writes about science and the environment from Madison, Wis. Among the publications he's written for are Discover, Preservation, Backpacker, Frontiers in Ecology and Environment, MAMM, Wisconsin Trails, Milwaukee Magazine, and The Progressive.

One man's quest to prove that bigger isn't better for the planet

Long before the special-effects wizards made Stuart Little into a silver-screen sensation, E.B. White’s diminutive hero held a hallowed spot in a storytelling tradition that ranges from Gulliver’s Travels and “Jack and the Beanstalk” to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. The basic idea: Make the workaday world utterly fantastic by changing the scale. Or, most everything looks cool when you’re only three inches tall. Underlying these tales is a serious metaphor born of humankind’s historical swings between feast and famine. Note, for example, that during Gulliver’s stay in Lilliput, his prodigious appetite taxed the pint-size pantries of his hosts. Which …

The ins and outs of matchmaking for cranes

Put that chocolate down, hold the wine and roses, and take yourself back to the dark side of Valentine’s Day. You remember, that day your sophomore year in high school that began with the discovery of a new 18-megawatt zit and ended in tragedy when [insert teen proto-love interest here] said they wouldn’t go out with you if you were the last person on the planet. I know, this harsh remembrance is not exactly sanctioned by the good folks at Hallmark or FTD, but do it anyway. Do it for the whooping cranes. With barely 200 living in the wild …

Sex sells, but can it save the planet?

Dr. Susan M. Block is not your typical crusader for endangered species. Sure, peace signs dangle from her ears — perhaps a little large, but not completely outrageous. Her voice carries conviction and bespeaks a clear intelligence — Yale, magna cum laude. A doctorate, too, in philosophy. Then she fled academia to build her own thriving multimedia enterprise: books, radio and TV shows, videos, websites, a gallery, consultations. A sunny bonobo. With a portfolio like this, Dr. Block would seem a worthy asset to any movement she befriended. Perhaps it’s the bra that takes some getting used to — the …

Jesse Ventura wants to ride light rail

PR professionals the world over must be scratching their heads at the sudden surge of interest in sprawl. The topic has all the sex appeal of a zoning meeting or a traffic jam — being about zoning meetings and traffic jams — and its number-one spokesperson is V. (as in vanilla) P. Al Gore. The planet almost tilts as the viewing public reaches en masse for their remotes, surfing for something more entertaining — say, professional wrestling. Jesse spreads his wings. They’re in for a surprise when they get there, because now entering the ring in an epic Brawl Against …

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