The environment


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Survival Piece I: Hog Pasture (1970-71) by Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, for the exhibition ‘Earth, Air, Fire and Water’ at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Photo by Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison/The Harrison Studio

Essay/
Art
The art of survival

The Harrisons’ eco-art told stories about the apocalypse, pointing to a future where we’d all have to be survival artists

W Patrick McCray

Photo by Catalina Martin-Chico/Panos Pictures

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Archaeology
The deep Anthropocene

A revolution in archaeology has exposed the extraordinary extent of human influence over our planet’s past and its future

Lucas Stephens, Erle Ellis & Dorian Fuller

Map of the Port of Alexandria, Egypt, from Kitab-ı Bahriye (Book of Navigation) by Piri Reis, first published 1521, map taken from the revised 17th-century edition. Courtesy The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Essay/
Cities
The city is a lie

From Ancient Egypt’s deltas to Edinburgh’s crags and peaks, the city pushes back against the dream of human separateness

Sam Grinsell

The Avenue at Middelharnis (1689), by Meindert Hobbema. Courtesy the National Gallery, London

Essay/
The environment
We are nature

Spinoza helps diagnose the bad ideas and sad passions that preclude us from a finer relationship with the natural world

Beth Lord

From the Chansonnier of Zeghere van Male (1542), Bruges. Cambrai, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 128B, Folio 116v. Courtesy ISMPL.org

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Environmental history
Human crap

We are demigods of discards – but our copious garbage became a toxic burden only with the modern cult of ‘disposability’

Gabrielle Hecht

Photo by Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG/Getty

Essay/
The environment
A vision for agriculture

We know how to replace toxic, intensive livestock raising with beautiful, efficient grasslands. Do we have the will?

Randall D Jackson

The infamous ‘London fog’, seen here on 17 November 1949. Two generations after the Clean Air Act of 1956, London seems much cleaner with Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission zones. Photo by Keystone/Getty

Essay/
The environment
Slow hope

Climate change is an emergency but despair is not the answer. The world is full of untold stories of people-powered change

Christof Mauch

Wild geese in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York City, USA, 2017. Photo by Rebecca Norris Webb from the book Brooklyn, the City Within with Alex Webb/Magnum Photos

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Nature and landscape
A place of silence

Our cities are filled by the hubbub of human-made noise. Where shall we find the quietness we need to nurture our spirit?

Liam Heneghan

At the Extinction Rebellion protest in London, 9 October 2019. Photo by Crispin Hughes/Panos Pictures

Essay/
The environment
Habermas and climate action

Jürgen Habermas offers a framework for action on climate change – justice and deliberation are as important as the science

Emilie Prattico

Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters (c1608), by Hendrick Avercamp. Avercamp was deaf and mute and specialised in painting scenes of the Netherlands in winter. Courtesy the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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Environmental history
Little Ice Age lessons

The world’s last climate crisis demonstrates that surviving is possible if bold economic and social change is embraced

Dagomar Degroot

Antarctic Beeches (Nothofagus moorei) in temperate rainforest, Lamington National Park, Queensland, Australia. Photo by Minden Pictures/National Geographic

Essay/
Nature and landscape
Rooted

What if, rather than mere props in the background of our lives, trees embody the history of all life on Earth?

Dalia Nassar & Margaret M Barbour

Photo courtesy the Wildlife Conservation Society (formerly the New York Zoological Society)

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Animals and humans
Prison, spectacle, refuge

Modern zoos are proud of their contribution to animal conservation but will always be haunted by their histories

Nigel T Rothfels

Coloured scanning electron microscope (SEM) of a water bear (Paramacrobiotus craterlaki) in moss. Photo by Eye of Science/Science Photo Library

Essay/
Evolution
Life is tough

Human life is fragile but tardigrades and other extremophiles show that life itself is in little danger of disappearing

David P Barash

Herdsmen in the monsoon rain near the village of Walpur, Madhya Pradesh, India. Photo by James P Blair/National Geographic

Essay/
The environment
When the monsoon goes away

The imperious monsoon rains have ruled India for centuries. Already unstable, what happens if they shift fundamentally?

Sunil Amrith

UN forces patrolling the streets of Port au Prince in Haiti after a devastating earthquake, 22 January 2010. Photo by Jerome Sessini/Magnum

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Poverty and development
After the storm

Few things tell us more about the nature of state sovereignty, and the threats to it, than the politics of disaster relief

Saptarishi Bandopadhyay