WHEN CONQUISTADOR HERNÁN CORTÉS REACHED Tenochtitlan in 1519, he beheld a floating city. The temples and palaces of the Aztec capital gleamed white from an island in the middle of a vast lake, all spread under a searing blue sky. With an estimated population of 200,000, roughly the size of contemporary Paris, the city overflowed with people. AroundContinue reading “How to Feed a Megacity Like the Aztecs”
TWELVE-THOUSAND YEARS AGO, THE GLACIERS receded from modern-day British Columbia, leaving the land to bleed silt into the sea. In the salty shallows hugging the coast, bivalves struggled to survive, growing slow and dying small in the fluctuating temperatures of the newly thawed ocean. Their shells fell to the floor and built up on beaches, formingContinue reading “Canadians Were Better at Clamming 3,500 Years Ago”
SKIP MCKINNELL FOUND THE SLIM books in a Vancouver basement: stacks of field notes coated with salmon scales still stuck to the 100-year-old fiber with slime. Then affiliated with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, McKinnell had read about the notebooks, which allegedly contained extensive data about and samples from British Columbia’s salmon population from the firstContinue reading “Found: Slime-Covered Notebooks Full of Conservation Data and Fish Scales”
RICHARD LIGON’S 17TH-CENTURY MAP OF Barbados shows an island surrounded by sea monsters. But the most mysterious inhabitants of Richard Ligon’s Barbados are also the most banal: five curly tailed pigs. Half of them are hairy and feral; the other half are smooth. Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: Public Domain.
FOR A FEW WEEKS EACH spring, a lone guard monitors the moors of northern England. This warden pitches a tent in a remote field to watch over a prize so rare that collectors have been known to break laws, trek into deep jungles, and risk capture by guerillas in its pursuit. Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: KylaContinue reading “This British Orchid Is Under Guard in a Secret Location”
AS IT GLINTS IN THE afternoon sunlight, Newark, New Jersey’s Passaic River looks peaceful. But a plaque along the boardwalk has a warning for visitors. “The river remains full of life,” it reads. “Try to spot these creatures, but until the pollution is removed from the river, be careful NEVER to catch or eat any ofContinue reading “The Swap-a-Fish Program That Traded Tilapia for Seafood Contaminated by Agent Orange”
The more privileged residents of the Global North have a strange sense of time. Even as the storms get fiercer and the forest fires burn, climate change is often seen as the reality of a cataclysmic future. At the same time, many Global North people—particularly the rich, the white, and those without much contact beyond moreContinue reading “As the Future of Climate Change Becomes Daily Reality, Poor Women Feel the Heat”