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A section of Jakarta’s protective seawall. The capital of Indonesia is sinking at a rate of up to 6.7 inches a year. Photos: Ian Teh

Many of our coastal cities are imperiled, but none have plotted an escape quite as audacious as Jakarta’s

I. The capital of catastrophe

In the 17th and 18th centuries, European workers flocked by the thousands to a faraway colonial Dutch port later to be known as Jakarta. The lure of the tough, six-month ocean journey was easy enough to see: seemingly limitless island forests of clove and nutmeg, spices that commanded a fortune back home. But half died horribly within months of getting there, numbering 2,000 and more victims a year. The main culprit was malaria, but the colonizers also succumbed to typhus, cholera, dysentery, and dengue fever. …


A field guide to difficult conversations about climate outside of big cities

Wind turbines near Minot, North Dakota. Photo: Ken Cedeno/Getty Images

State Representative Tiffiny Mitchell has a challenge. She is a Democrat from Oregon’s 32nd District, a beautiful region at the mouth of the Columbia River downstream from Portland. She’s also new to statewide politics in a region that’s seeing a growing urban-rural divide, and her district reflects that chasm. In fact, in December a coalition of loggers and farmers tried to oust Mitchell for supporting a bill that would increase regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. The recall efforts ultimately failed, but the incident highlights how Mitchell faces major headwinds in selling climate action to her rural constituents.

While Monmouth polling…


The indifference toward the recent earthquake swarm devastating the island is the latest in a long list of indignities

Tents on a baseball field in Guanica, Puerto Rico after a powerful earthquake hit the island. Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images

Puerto Rico is convulsing, and I’m witnessing from thousands of miles away how Americans are once again turning a blind eye.

Nearly 1,300 earthquakes have hit the island’s southern region in a swarm that began on December 28, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. More than two dozen of the quakes have been magnitude 4.5 or greater. Just Wednesday, there was a 5.2 magnitude tremor followed by dozens of aftershocks. The situation for Puerto Ricans, who have been facing a financial crisis and are still recovering from Hurricane Maria, is dire. At least one person has died and several have…


It’s the latest legal attempt to protect the beloved lake from environmental catastrophe

A Landsat satellite image of Lake Erie. Credit: NASA

As Lake Erie begins to emerge from the thick layer of ice and snow that have capped its vast expanse over the last few months, Markie Miller feels an odd pang of melancholy. True, the summer months are a time for swimming, fishing, boating, and picnics on the lake’s beaches, but they also mark an end to a period of quiet at the lake — of frozen hibernation and serenity.

“It’s very reassuring when it’s frozen; you have this weird sense of security,” says Miller, who lives in Toledo, Ohio.

Miller has dedicated the last few years to the security…


Some parody accounts started out with jokes but now help scientists to communicate geohazard risks and fight disinformation

Photo Illustration; Source Image: Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images

If you tweet about certain volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest, don’t be surprised if the volcano responds. That’s especially true if you’ve taken the time to recognize Glacier Peak, a 10,541-foot mountain in Washington state that will likely again blow its top in a big way someday.

Glacier Peak can be hard to spot nestled among other nearby peaks in the Cascade Range. Unlike its taller, more prominent, and better known volcanic neighbor to the south, 14,411-foot Mount Rainier, Glacier Peak doesn’t get as much attention. It’s mostly out of view from the populated lowlands, including Seattle, which is about…


With Los Angeles recently under siege by wildfires, it’s time for the movie industry to acknowledge our current reality

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

We are in the golden age of entertainment. The #MeToo movement and increased diversity are changing Hollywood for the better. Prestige television and film are delivering hard-hitting stories tackling racism, inequality, and reproductive rights. After dragging their feet, the entertainment industry is officially “woke-ish.”

And it’s not just quality, it’s quantity. In 2018, there were a whopping 495 scripted TV shows, 871 films released in theaters, and an endless stream of superhero movies, live-action remakes, and the always-necessary Fast & Furious spinoff.

Yet there is a glaring omission in the swarming vortex of entertainment — virtually any storyline that addresses…


Illustration: Jacqueline Tam

Hurricanes, erosion, and hot, windless doldrums threaten to upend one of Hawaii’s most revered athletic events

Only three canoes dared to put in for the first Molokaʻi Hoe in 1952. The race was not yet the spectacle it would become more than 50 years later. It’s the Super Bowl of canoe paddling and a staple of the Hawaiian sports scene in which over 1,000 participants from across the planet compete in the more than 40-mile race from Molokai to Oahu. But the Molokaʻi Hoe — pronounced ho-eh, so that it almost rhymes with “boy” — has always been extremely dangerous. The treacherous Kaʻiwi Channel has been locally infamous for a lot longer than the Hoe has…


Our fight to protect the planet is incomplete without a gender-based perspective

A woman runs as firefighters work to control a flare up due to flying embers from the Woolsey Fire, November 10, 2018 in Calabasas, California. Photo: Robyn Beck/Getty

There’s a fetid haze in the air when I call emergency medicine physician Dr. Cecilia Sorensen, who is fresh off an ER shift at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. I’m in California, some 150 miles from Paradise, where the Camp Fire has practically leveled an entire town. It’s not yet the deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history, but air pollution levels are climbing across the state.

As a doctor, Sorensen knows that when wildfire particulate matter spikes, so do ICU admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms like asthma attacks. As a climate change researcher, she’s…


The Trump administration may back nuclear, but it still faces an uphill battle in the U.S.

Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Burke County, Georgia (2013). Photo: Kyodo News/Getty Images

The Trump administration—the same people who pulled out of the Paris Agreement, rolled back the Clean Power Plan, and reduced fuel-economy regulations—has become an unlikely champion of at least one source for climate change mitigation: nuclear power.

Late last year, Trump signed into law two bipartisan bills to encourage research and innovation in nuclear energy. In late March of this year, Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced that the Trump administration would be guaranteeing $3.7 billion in loans to finish building two new reactors at the Vogtle plant in Georgia. That same week, Edward McGinnis, the DOE’s principal deputy assistant secretary…


Great Escape

Inside the race to save endangered wildlife in Hawaii amid the growing threat of climate-related storms

Aug. 23, 2018 — The Wailuku River flood waters run downstream on the Big Island in Hilo, Hawaii. Hurricane Lane has brought more than a foot of rain to some parts of the Big Island which is under a flash flood warning. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty.

Water and ice are two common staples in most hurricane preparedness kits. Fungus is not.

In the face of advancing hurricane winds of 125 miles per hour, the Snail Extinction Prevention Program (SEPP) in Hawaii evacuated its field lab on Aug. 23. They placed 80 terrariums housing 2,000 rare Hawaiian snails in cardboard file boxes and transported them from a marsh on the northeast side of O`ahu to a downtown Honolulu office building. …

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