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Society

Essays and videos on social issues, history, political life and the future
Our contaminated future | Aeon
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The environment

Our contaminated future

In Fukushima, communities are adapting to life in a time of permanent pollution: a glimpse of what’s to come for us all

Maxime Polleri

Trenches in Chernobyl | Aeon
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War and peace

Trenches in Chernobyl

Disturbing and inhaling radioactive dust, in their haste Russian soldiers unburied the wrecked, undead Earth itself

Michael Marder

Here’s to the aquapolis | Aeon
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The environment

Here’s to the aquapolis

Unkempt, beguiling and lacking conventional geometry, wetlands bring a roguish, raffish wildness to the city

Tom Blass

Living closer together | Aeon
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Cities

Living closer together

Urban density was once seen as a sign of unhealthiness and poverty. But today it is necessary to make cities sustainable

Max Holleran

Dancing with water | Aeon
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Environmental history

Dancing with water

As storms, droughts and floods become more intense, what can the world learn from Japan’s profoundly wet history?

Giulio Boccaletti

Keeping our options open | Aeon
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Anthropology

Keeping our options open

Frantic human activity has reduced both cultural and biological diversity. Now we must protect the dwindling alternatives

Thomas Hylland Eriksen

Deforest | Aeon
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The environment

Photographs of rainforests dissolving in acid strike a beautiful note of warning

10 minutes

Minmini (Fireflies) | Aeon
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Ecology and environmental sciences

Experience the dazzling displays that fireflies create when humans are far away

5 minutes

The power of shit | Aeon
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The environment

The power of shit

Our excrement is a natural, renewable and sustainable resource – if only we can overcome our visceral disgust of it

Lina Zeldovich

Pyrocene Park | Aeon
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Ecology and environmental sciences

Pyrocene Park

Fire is a planetary feature, not a biotic bug. What can we learn from Yosemite’s experiment to restore natural fire?

Stephen J Pyne

How to restore a savanna | Aeon
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Ecology and environmental sciences

How to restore a savanna

Massive tree-planting programmes have come to substitute for the tradeoffs and complexity of restoring real ecosystems

Francis E (‘Jack’) Putz

The end of travel | Aeon
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Travel

The end of travel

Driven by the need for a storied life, I relished the opportunity for endless travel. Is that a moment in time, now over?

Henry Wismayer

Reweaving the wild | Aeon
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Ecology and environmental sciences

Reweaving the wild

Human roads have utterly fragmented the world of wild animals but the engineering to reconnect the pieces is in our grasp

Darryl Jones

Songs of conquest | Aeon
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Music

Songs of conquest

From Tallis’s choral beauty to the unnerving bells of Mexico City, early modern power created a whole new world of sound

Thomas Irvine & Christopher J Smith

Cities that grow themselves | Aeon
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Cities

Cities that grow themselves

They are spreading like branching plants across the globe. Should we rein cities in or embrace their biomorphic potential?

Josh Berson

Heritage at sea | Aeon
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Architecture

Heritage at sea

Must we simply accept the loss of beloved buildings and cities to the floods and rising seas of the climate crisis?

Thijs Weststeijn

Stock-picking for humanity | Aeon
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Economics

Stock-picking for humanity

Everyone on the planet has a stake in making investment more ethical. What’s new is that they have the power to do so too

Ellen Quigley

Eve | Aeon
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video

The environment

A climate activist living off-grid faces her toughest challenge yet – a new primary school

21 minutes

The miracle of the commons | Aeon
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The environment

The miracle of the commons

Far from being profoundly destructive, we humans have deep capacities for sharing resources with generosity and foresight

Michelle Nijhuis

The wolf dividing Norway | Aeon
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Animals and humans

The divisive debate over hunting Norway’s endangered wolves

29 minutes

The art of survival | Aeon
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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

Sandorkraut | Aeon
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Food and drink

Making sauerkraut is a spiritual matter for the ‘fermentation fetishist’ Sandor Katz

12 minutes

The deep Anthropocene | Aeon
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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

Zone Rouge | Aeon
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video

The environment

Clearing the Zone Rouge in France, where First World War debris still poses a threat

15 minutes