Stories: Environment

  • The Rise of the Trash-Picker Collective, in Latin America and Beyond

    As the sky lightens from pink to blue in this gritty oil boomtown on the border with Colombia, vendors at the local campesino market set up baskets of pan de wawa, platters of fresh cheese, and heaps of mangos and bananas. The waste-pickers are close behind, pedaling squeaky metal carts through the rutted streets. They’re among Ecuador&rsquo...

  • Can the Paris Talks Save the Amazon?

    Huaorani natives and YASunidos activists march in Quito on April 12, 2014. Photo: Rodrigo Buendia/Getty Images With tens of thousands of climate officials converging on Paris at the end of the month to seek an international agreement on global warming, environmentalists are reviving a controversial plan to protect a pristine stretch of the Amazon’s Yasuni National Park, which...

  • Brazil’s Dangerous Climate Spiral

    A massive drought that has left Latin America's largest city on the brink of running dry. A long-awaited rainy season is yet to arrive, and key water reservoirs have shrunk to less than 5 percent of their storage capacity. Officials are warning that this city of 11 million could run out of water within weeks. View of cracked earth in...

  • Vladimir Putin’s Tiger Is Lost in China

    If you happen to be traipsing about China’s Heilongjiang province and come across a lost-looking Siberian tiger, the Kremlin would like it back. Kuzya, a tiger that was personally released back into the wild by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has caused something of an international incident by wading across the Amur River that separates Russia...

  • This Woman Could Become One of the World’s Most Influential Environmentalists

    Even for a politician who bills herself an outsider, Marina Silva's résumé is stacked with curiosities. She grew up in a poor, rural part of Brazil and says she taught herself to read at age 16. She's a devout evangelical in a predominantly Catholic country. And she's a former environment minister who has run as...

  • JFK’s Most Underrated Achievement

    The spot where the Soviet Union blew up its first atomic bomb is an expansive, gently rolling part of the steppe in northeastern Kazakhstan. Between 1949 and 1989, the Soviet Union conducted more than 450 nuclear tests, over 100 of which were atmospheric, meaning the device was detonated on the ground or in the air. When I visited in August with a group...

  • Jacarandas and Children: Reflections on Tanzania

    It’s been exactly three weeks since I left Tanzania and my mind is pregnant with vivid thoughts. I must deliver. On an excursion made possible by the International Reporting Project of the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, I joined 11 brilliant reporters to travail the valleys and hillsides of the place called Tanzania. Here is where...

  • The Environmental Cost of the Construction Boom in Haiti

    The construction boom in Haiti--driven by Diasporan money, UN [MINUSTAH] and government funds--is destroying the local environment around the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Hillsides are being cut away and river beds decimated to feed the huge demand for rock and gravel for personal homes, warehouses and post earthquake reconstruction by the government–in short everything but low cost housing. I...

  • Kazakhstan: No Longer Butt of Joke

    It doesn’t take more than a few minutes in Astana — Kazakhstan’s futuristic new capital — to make you forget what little you may have assumed about the country, most of it no doubt from a certain Sacha Baron Cohen movie. Until about a decade ago, Astana was “an insignificant provincial town,...

  • A Safer World at Ground Zero

    Standing at ground zero of the Soviet Union’s first nuclear-bomb explosion, it’s clear why the Kremlin saw this site as an ideal place to test its emerging nuclear-weapons program. Now part of modern-day Kazakhstan, the Semipalatinsk Test Site, or the Polygon, as it was informally known, stretches across a swath of...