Michelle Nijhuis

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

Drilling on a Texas barrier island could mess with sea turtles and other critters

Life’s a beach — and then you die. Photo: NPS. This time of year, a slim strip of Texas beach known as South Padre Island is hopping with bikini-wearing, hard-drinking college students on spring break. …

Immigration controversy engulfs Sierra Club board election

If the Democratic primaries have proven a little prim and polite for your taste, there’s another upcoming election that may pique your interest. This one is loaded with bitter controversy, nasty accusations, and emotional appeals …

Meow Mix

Michelle Nijhuis reviews The Beast in the Garden by David Baron

One afternoon in mid-January 1991, students in a high school English class in Idaho Springs, Colo., saw a familiar sight outside their classroom windows: Their schoolmate Scott Lancaster, a dedicated competitive cyclist, was starting his daily training run on the wooded ridge behind Clear Creek High School. The 18-year-old clowned for the class as he passed by, then continued on his circuit. He was never seen alive again.

Super Markets

Michelle Nijhuhis reviews Power to the People by Vijay Vaitheeswaran

Just before Thanksgiving, Senate Democrats (with the aid of a few Republicans) stymied the massive national energy bill, guaranteeing that debate on the measure would drag into an election year -- and significantly reducing its chance of passing. The setback surprised some observers because the bill, which currently weighs in at just under 1,200 pages, was carefully designed by congressional leaders for maximum political appeal: Its ethanol subsidies tempted farm-state Democrats, while renewable-energy perks drew endorsements from advocates of wind and solar power.

Disease on Down the Road

Michelle Nijhuis reviews Six Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them

It's easy to look at disease outbreaks as acts of God, or fate, or chance. After all, diseases are often so capricious, so stubbornly beyond our full control, that it can seem as if we humans have little to do with them -- beyond suffering the consequences, that is. But in many cases, argues journalist and veterinarian Mark Jerome Walters, we have far more influence over disease than we think. In Six Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them, he contends that disease outbreaks are often triggered by the damage we've done to the environment.

Activists and small-scale farmers are going “beyond organic” to push local foods

A-tisket, a-tasket, an organic produce basket. Photo: USDA. Organic food has hit the big time. The Whole Foods Market chain, the largest natural-foods retailer in the world, boasts 145 stores throughout North America; its leading …

Inner Space

Michelle Nijhuis reviews Entering the Stone by Barbara Hurd

On the fourth of July this year, I went underground -- under the Chihuahuan Desert, that is, and into the famous Carlsbad Caverns. Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southern New Mexico has been hosting tourists for the better part of a century, so it's got a lot of experience with showing itself off. The fabulous limestone decorations are subtly lit (a Hollywood lighting expert helped out with the placement of the bulbs), the paths are paved and protected by handrails, and large-capacity elevators whisk you up to the daylight.

How the five-gallon plastic bucket came to the aid of grassroots environmentalists

The plastic five-gallon bucket is the most humdrum of containers, yet it’s proved to be almost as versatile as duct tape. Creative sorts have turned buckets into toolboxes and ottomans, planters and panniers. And in …

Grace Under Pressure

Michelle Nijhuis reviews Libby, Montana by Andrea Peacock

It's never been easy to make a living in Libby, Mont. Citizens in this town of 12,000, tucked into the dense, damp conifer forests of northwestern Montana, have long scraped by on seasonal logging jobs and other sporadic work. So in the 1920s, when local entrepreneur Edward Alley discovered that a nearby vermiculite deposit yielded an efficient, lightweight insulation and fireproofing material, Libbyites were thrilled.

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