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Photo by Roland Gerth/Corbis

Essay/
Ethics
Devouring the world

A former vegan who now hunts deer is troubled by what it takes to put food on our plates

Tovar Cerulli

Far from the madding crowd; Michelle Nijhuis, her husband and daughter in Colorado. Photo by JT Thomas

Essay/
The environment
The ghost commune

Unplugging from the electrical grid was relatively easy. What we didn’t realise was that we needed the human grid, too

Michelle Nijhuis

A deer tick picked up during a conservation walk through Wylde Woods in Dover, Massachusetts, 25 October 2010. Photo by Bill Greene/The Boston Globe/Getty

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Illness and disease
Ticks rising

In a warming world, ticks thrive in more places than ever before, making Lyme disease the first epidemic of climate change

Mary Beth Pfeiffer

Photo by Brian Rueb Photography/Getty

Essay/
Ethics
The case against pets

A morally just world would have no pets, no aquaria, no zoos. No fields of sheep, no barns of cows. That’s true animal rights

Gary L Francione & Anna E Charlton

Iberian Wolves are proliferating in the Sierra de la Culebra, Spain after an absence of a century. Photo by Steven Ruiter/NiS/Minden Pictures/Corbis

Essay/
Biology
Rethinking extinction

The idea that we are edging up to a mass extinction is not just wrong – it’s a recipe for panic and paralysis

Stewart Brand

Photo by Ed Freeman/Getty

Essay/
Ecology and environmental sciences
Scorched Earth, 2200AD

Climate change has done its worst, and now just 500 million humans remain on lifeboats in the north. How do they survive?

Linda Marsa

Charcoal production in Brazil. Photo by Franz Lanting/Getty

Essay/
Environmental history
Out of the ashes

It took a lot of fossil fuels to forge our industrial world. Now they’re almost gone. Could we do it again without them?

Lewis Dartnell

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

Essay/
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

Photo by Robert Postma/Design Pics/National Geographic

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
The elephant as a person

Elephants might have the necessary capacities for personhood – we just need to help them acquire the cognitive scaffolding

Don Ross

Limousin sow, Dordogne de Neuvialle (two years old), and her piglet. Photo by Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Getty

Essay/
Bioethics
The pig on your plate

That pigs are smart and sensitive is not in doubt. How can we justify continuing to kill them for food?

Barbara J King

Aerial view of salt ponds, Walvis Bay, Namibia. Photo by Frans Lanting/National Geographic

Essay/
Ecology and environmental sciences
Anthropocene fever

The Anthropocene idea has been embraced by Earth scientists and English professors alike. But how useful is it?

Jedediah Purdy

A mother coyote on the sidewalk of the 1300 block of Larrabee Street, 3 June 2011, in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/Getty

Essay/
Ecology and environmental sciences
A tale of three dogs

Coyotes, dingoes and wolves are all dogs, as intelligent and loyal as our familiars. Our treatment of them is unconscionable

Brandon Keim

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, November 2013. Photo by Jerome Sessini/Magnum

Essay/
Ecology and environmental sciences
The African Anthropocene

The Anthropocene feels different depending on where you are – too often, the ‘we’ of the world is white and Western

Gabrielle Hecht

An autistic child swims with a dolphin. ‘The dolphin smile is nature’s greatest deception,’ said Ric O’Barry, who trained the dolphins in the TV series Flipper. Photo by Andrew Bosch/MCT/Getty

Essay/
Biology
Dolphins are not healers

Dolphins are smart, sociable predators. They don’t belong in captivity and they shouldn’t be used to ‘cure’ the ill

Lori Marino

The Soča river valley in Western Slovenia. Photo by Lizzie Shepherd/Getty

Essay/
Ecology and environmental sciences
Accidental rewilding

In places once thick with farms and cities, human dispossession and war has cleared the ground for nature to return

George Monbiot

The world’s oldest living trees, bristlecone pines each stand on their own pedestal of dolomite rock, high in the Californian mountains All photos by Nick Paloukos

Essay/
Deep time
The vanishing groves

A chronicle of climates past and a portent of climates to come – the telling rings of the bristlecone pine

Ross Andersen

Cold and calculating. A Dorid nudibranch (Tritoniella belli) in Antarctica. Photo by Norbert Wu/Minden/National Geographic

Essay/
Mathematics
How to play mathematics

The world is full of mundane, meek, unconscious things embodying fiendishly complex mathematics. What can we learn from them?

Margaret Wertheim

A scanning electron microscope image shows a nematode in biofilm (blue), in its natural deep-subsurface habitat. The scale bar is 20 micrometres (μm) long. All images courtesy Gaetan Borgonie

Essay/
Earth science and climate
Life goes deeper

The Earth is not a solid mass of rock: its hot, dark, fractured subsurface is home to weird and wonderful life forms

Gaetan Borgonie & Maggie Lau

Native knowledge. A Moken woman stares out to sea. Photo by Taylor Weidman/LightRocket/Getty

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Stories and literature
Watchers of the earth

Indigenous peoples around the world tell myths which contain warning signs for natural disasters. Scientists are now listening

Carrie Arnold