OnEarth

Featuring great stories and great solutions, OnEarth is a survival guide for the planet. Published by the Natural Resources Defense Council since 1979, we explore the challenges that confront our world, the solutions that promise to heal it, and the way we can use those solutions to improve our homes, our health, our communities, and our future. Follow OnEarth on Facebook or Twitter.

Climate Change

Lights, camera, activism: Filming the story of environmentalism

This OnEarth story was written by Bruce Barcott. In a creaky wood-floor office overlooking San Francisco Bay, the documentary filmmaker Mark Kitchell removes his glasses, runs his hand through his hair, and glares at a computer screen filled with thumbnail images of film clips. Kitchell, 59, is in the throes of a dilemma. He’s spent the past 10 years making A Fierce Green Fire, an epic documentary about the 50-year evolution of the modern environmental movement. He has two hours and 12 minutes in the can. And it’s good. “The material is vast, and it’s an incredibly dynamic film,” says …

Population

Will my baby be the 7 billionth?

Born in the U.S., my child will be one of the most voracious consumers on the planet. But to apologize for this seems to signal a loss of hope.

Food

The great oyster crash

When oyster larvae in the Pacific Northwest started dying by the millions, ocean acidification was discovered to be the culprit.

Living

Is your shampoo making you fat?

More research suggests that the toxic chemicals present in our everyday lives play a role in the obesity epidemic.

What ever happened to the party of national security?

This OnEarth column was written by George Black. I don’t spend a lot of time listening to Rush Limbaugh. But driving through Wyoming recently, I chanced upon his distinctive cadences on my car radio. I couldn’t find a reliable signal for NPR, I don’t like Mötley Crüe, and I was getting tired of listening to the preacher on a Christian station who was giving listeners his interpretation of the stream of crazy weather events and disasters this spring — raging wildfires in Arizona, floods on the Mississippi, epic tornados in the Southeast, record snowfall in the Rockies. The preacher told …

How to build a better playground

This story was written by Shanti Menon. In her new book Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation, Berkeley-based environmental planner Sharon Danks explores the ways in which landscape design, architecture, child development, and nutrition converge in the schoolyard. OnEarth sat down with Danks, whose firm, Bay Tree Designs, Inc, is helping redevelop some 29 San Francisco schoolyards, to talk about how communities are transforming the asphalt playgrounds of the past into green spaces conducive to better learning, eating, and playing. Q. How have playgrounds changed since we were kids? A. Playgrounds these days are influenced largely by liability …

Organic Food

Strawberry grower shows how to make a profit without poisons

Jim Cochran on the farm in 2004.Photo: Swanton Berry FarmThis story was written by Laura Fraser. Along California’s rugged coastal Highway One, just north of Santa Cruz, a yellow vintage pick-up truck and tidy rows of strawberries mark the entrance to the Swanton Berry Farm. Inside the cheerful farm stand, decorated with old photos of the region and fluttering United Farm Worker flags, locals gather at blue picnic tables, sipping coffee, eating strawberry shortcake, and chatting with Jim Cochran, the owner. The air is scented with the first berries of the season. They’re fresh and sweet, intensely red and fragrant, …

humans with antlers

Maybe no one cares about climate change because we’re wired for extinction

Will we follow the Irish elk’s strange evolutionary path toward extinction?This piece was written by George Black. In my unending (and thus far, I have to confess, largely fruitless) attempts to figure out why Americans aren’t more alarmed about climate change, one of the more intriguing ideas I’ve heard recently was put to me by a psychologist named Andrew Shatté. Shatté, a professor at the University of Arizona, is best known for his work on resilience — the ability of humans to deal with adversity. His thesis on climate change, in a nutshell, is that we are hardwired for extinction. …

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