Michelle Nijhuis

Award-winning journalist and pretty good mom Michelle Nijhuis writes about science and the environment from western Colorado. Follow her on Twitter.


Do environmentalists need shrinks?

Is the sorry state of the planet dragging you into the dumps? Psychologist John Fraser thinks a lot of enviros are suffering from traumatic distress.

The GINK Chronicles

A green guide to getting along for parents and the childfree

In the interests of fostering camaraderie between green-minded parents and childfree people, here are some cross-cultural communication tips.

An interview with author and nutritionist Marion Nestle

The contents of your dog’s bowl — kibble, kibble, more kibble — may not look that interesting, but to nutritionist Marion Nestle, they’re nothing less than a microcosm of the global food system. In her new book Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine, Nestle (pronounced NES-uhl, no relation to the multinational) investigates the 2007 pet-food contamination scandal, at the time the largest consumer product recall in U.S. history. Companies withdrew nearly 200 brands of cat and dog foods from store shelves, and while the federal Food and Drug Administration eventually confirmed only 17 or 18 animal deaths, …

Author Elizabeth Royte chats about the bottled-water boom and backlash

Elizabeth Royte.Photo: Rod MorrisonJournalist Elizabeth Royte drinks tap water, but she spends a lot of time thinking about the bottled kind. In her new book, Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It, Royte investigates the causes and consequences of the bottled-water industry’s astounding growth. With her refillable water bottle in hand, Royte travels to Fryeburg, Maine, where a water-pumping operation for Nestle’s Poland Spring label divides the town. In the course of her research, she also tastes fancy bottled waters with a water connoisseur, monitors her eight-year-old daughter’s water intake, and conducts an informal poll of …

Seven green leaders reveal their favorite reads

Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bad books bite. Photo: margolove Which books and magazines are tempting today’s environmental movers and shakers to keep the CFLs burning late into the night? Grist asked seven movement leaders for their recommended reads. (Been burning the night oil yourself? Add your own favorite reads in the comments section below.) Van Jones. Van Jones Founding president, Green for All Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester R. Brown Unbowed by Wangari Maathai Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grassroots by Kevin Danaher, Sharon Biggs, and Jason Mark The Last …

An interview with author Bruce Barcott

Bruce Barcott. In his new non-fiction book Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw, environmental journalist Bruce Barcott follows Sharon Matola — a former Air Force survival specialist and circus-tiger trainer turned zookeeper — as she fights the construction of a hydropower dam in her adopted country of Belize, and attempts to save the nesting site of the country’s last scarlet macaws. During her years of battle, Matola — known throughout Belize and beyond as the Zoo Lady — wrestled with corrupt politicians, the habitual Belizean suspicion of outsiders, and her own impulsive nature. Though her campaign to stop the Chalillo …

An interview with Bonk author Mary Roach

Photo: cybertoad Ah, sex. Source of carnal bliss, domestic harmony, cute infants … and global population problems. (Oh, environmentalists are such killjoys.) Overpopulation aside for the moment, sex is fundamental to humanity, and to the rest of the natural world — and besides, it’s a dang fascinating subject, as Mary Roach found out while researching her new book Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. Mary Roach. Photo: David Paul Morris To produce her latest work, Roach delved into the quirky and occasionally sordid history of human sexual research, following the fearless scientists who devote their lives to figuring …

15 green books you can actually read at the beach

Green books that are fun to read? What a novel idea. So maybe you’ll finally have a chance to catch up on some reading this summer. But so many of those books about the environment seem kind of … well, homework-y. What’s a vacationing enviro to do? Turn to Grist for advice, of course! Here are 15 recent page-turners just perfect for stuffing in your hemp beach tote. Got sunny-day suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comments section below. The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring Richard Preston, Random House, 2007 Think nature writing is …

An interview with author James Howard Kunstler

Author and social critic James Howard Kunstler, known for predicting our post-peak-oil future in nonfiction works such as The Long Emergency, has also brought his forecasts to life through fiction. His newest novel, World Made By Hand, describes the near future in a small town in upstate New York — not unlike the place Kunstler himself lives today — where a chain of global crises has forced the community to fend for itself. Despite the tragedy and violence that surround his characters, Kunstler says his vision of the future isn’t nearly as grim as it might seem. “I resent the …

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