After Ebola: Stories from West Africa

This summer, I had the privilege of working with several healthcare workers in Liberia and Sierra Leone to bring a more personal perspective to the situation on the ground in West Africa. The need to rebuild after the Ebola epidemic is something that will continue well after the soundbites are done; these heroes are in need of more training, actual salaries, and reinforcements.

For more on the situation, and their stories, you can read two opinion pieces I produced and placed:


Shrinking FIFA’s Footprint

The allegations of bribery surrounding Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup triggered an investigation that exposed much of the corruption at FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. In a piece for National Geographic’s “Voices” blog, I argue that the environmental impact of Qatar’s bid is even more egregious. Can FIFA call for a do-over?

The Politics of Climate Change and Hope

When celebrated novelist Jonathan Franzen wrote a long essay on the hopelessness of fighting global climate change and the need to focus on local conservation issues, he kicked off a firestorm of protests. In a piece for National Geographic’s “Voices” blog, I argue that there has never been more hope for those advocating on environmental issues, whether local or global.

Hidden Stories for 2015

2014 brought us a much-needed surge in climate change reporting.  Resistance to climate science is finally fading from the political landscape.  But with the focus on weather, what flew under the radar?

In my latest post for National Geographic’s “Voices” blog, I take a look at five stories that deserve a closer examination in 2015.

What Do Giant Armadillos and Bulldozers Have in Common?

The giant armadillo and the bulldozer both frequent the Gran Chaco in South America. Although both are armored, one only destroys termite mounds. The other destroys the forest itself–and the lives of those who live there.

The Gran Chaco is the starting point for a piece I produced and placed in Al Jazeera’s online Opinion portal that discusses the importance of forests in the context of the latest round of climate change negotiations.

Conserving Natural Areas Peacefully and Effectively

Yosemite National Park is my candidate for the most idyllic place in the world. Yet, at this point in time, the tragedy of its bloody history has been mostly lost.

In a piece I produced and placed in the Thomson Reuters Foundation blog, this history is a starting point for a discussion on how parks and protected areas should include, not exclude, the people who live in these places.

The UN Climate Change Summit: Questions and Answers

(Illustration credit: Jack Hornady)

(Illustration credit: Jack Hornady)

In a pair of pieces I wrote for National Geographic’s “Voices” blog (formerly titled “NewsWatch”), the question of climate change politics takes center stage.

Will the growing acceptance of climate science push international solutions forward? And can the increasing consensus save the world’s forests, which are critical for both climate change adaptation and mitigation?

Answers can be found at and

A Bottom-Line Focus For Solving Mining Conflicts

Downstream from the suspended Pascua-Lama mine, in Chile’s Atacama Region (Credit: Alturas Oceanicas)

Downstream from the suspended Pascua-Lama mine, in Chile’s Atacama Region (Credit: Alturas Oceanicas)

The lure of precious metals and other natural resources has long been a source of conflict in Latin America, from the Andes to the Amazon and most everywhere else.  But new research has begun to put a price tag on this conflict, and investors have started to respond. When the lives and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples are uprooted by large-scale mining developments, their opposition is driving up the cost of these developments, a point that is finally starting to get noticed in corporate financial statements.

This is the focus of my latest post for National Geographic; to read more please visit:

Where I’ve been this spring

If it appears that I haven’t written as much this year as I have in the past, well, it’s because I’ve been fighting through a bout with lymphoma. While being treated for cancer is an overall lousy experience, it helped rekindle my love for running. I wrote about this for the Washington Post’s “To Your Health” blog, a piece that also explored how I now want to pass along the joy of running to my daughter.

Opinion Pieces on Land and Resource Rights

This is a catch-up post, cataloging a number of successful efforts to produce and place opinion pieces on securing the land and resource rights in the developing world.

Bloomberg View, September 19, 2013:
One Word May Save Indonesia’s Forests

Reuters AlertNet, September 16, 2013:
The land should feed the people first

Al Jazeera, September 19, 2013:
Is natural resource development a blessing, a ‘quick-fix,’ or a curse?

CNN’s Global Public Square, February 6, 2014:
Time to put people before land profits