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Journalism and Extinction
A Digest of Dispatches to Close Out 2022
Three items for you in this year-end digest of Chasing Nature, then a bit of gratitude.
1. WTF No. 4: Fakery
We close 2022 with fraud. My final WTF is a Wild Thing Faking. Not a flower, at least not one you might expect, this is a sedge in the genus Rhynchospora (the “beaksedges"). While sedges certainly have flowers, those aren’t petals. And while that’s a nice image above, I’ve got a better one for you. Read on »
2. Essay: Between Bombs and Butterflies
AS SOME OF YOU KNOW, in a former life I was a print journalist reporting on everything from health care to the environment to Bernie Sanders. (Yep, that’s a cleaner-cut me in the corner crashing a meeting with Hillary Clinton.) Although the news was noble work, I gave it up in 1998 to go outside for a living as a birdwatching guide and field biologist. Little did I know at the time was that as I would watch decline and extinction in the natural world I would also witness decline and extinction in journalism.
With enough year-end reading lists already out there, I offer instead two worthy, recent articles on insects and extinction.
Writing in FiveThirtyEight, Maggie Koerth scooped me on a butterfly that I myself have seen dance across the prairie — and which now could go extinct. Although I’ve written about Poweshiek Skipperling, Koerth’s piece, “The Butterfly Effect,” is lyrical and powerful. (Wish I had written it.)
A team of writers and a skilled designer at Reuters combine words and graphics for a web gem called The Collapse of Insects. I often send long reads like this from the web to my e-reader, but I suggest you settle in at the glowing screen for this one so that you can benefit from the graphics.
By the way, my first big Substack posting on Dec. 21 came almost exactly when the Substack website itself crashed for a few hours (temporarily rendering my links dead-ends). If you gave up last week, everything is good to go from the Chasing Nature home page.
Finally, on a personal note, Chasing Nature, which launched only this month, has already cracked the top 20 in Substack’s “Climate and Environment” category. I do not write for rankings. But it’s been gratifying to see so many of you here with me — and so many new readers. I write for you. If you haven’t done so already, I hope you’ll join us. It’s free, although paying subscribers make Chasing Nature possible and get perks like nature workshops and extra essays. Please consider an upgrade to paid status. Thanks!