Writings, maps, and visualizations about the environment, nature, culture, and history.

Featured Pages

4 Skins: Punk and the Concrete City

Punk was urban music, but direct links to the city in punk music were often amorphous. The 4 Skins, a short-lived group whose black members set them apart from most other punk groups of the time, were unique in constructing a detailed sense of New York as a living space. ...read more

Black Survival: Mainstream Environmentalism's Missed Opportunities

The 1970 play "Black Survival" reveals that even at the moment of the first Earth Day, many African Americans considered environmentalism to be a white movement, but not necessarily a white issue. ...read more

Blackened and Nuclear Winter

One could argue that "Blackened" is a planet-in-peril kind of song, reminiscent of the Doors' 1967 "When the Music's Over." But not quite. Metallica does not want to hear the scream of the butterfly. ...read more

The Mysis Crisis

From 1949 to the 1980s, fisheries managers introduced tiny mysis shrimp into hundreds of freshwater lakes in North America, hoping to bolster sport fisheries. Instead, they often destroyed them. ...see the timeline and map

Whitey on the Moon

“We have a poem here,” a twenty-year-old Gil Scott-Heron begins in a soft voice that undersells the incendiary political commentary he is about to provide. “It’s called ‘Whitey on the Moon.’ And, uh, it was inspired, it was inspired by some whiteys on the moon.” ...read more

A Year Without Summer

Courtney Blazon explores, in surreal detail, the effects of the eruption of Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa in 1815, capturing disease, death, folklore, climate change and even the birth of Frankenstein. ...read more

London Calling

London's calling and it's drowning. “The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in / Meltdown expected, the wheat is growin' thin.” Environmental apocalypse looms in Joe Strummer’s vision, and for good reason. ...read more

Charlton Heston: Prophet of the Eco-Apocalypse?

No popular avatar better captured the tension between humanity as savior and humanity as destroyer than Charlton Heston, whose films pioneered the genre of post-apocalyptic eco-catastrophe. ...read more


Youngstown exposes a fundamental feature of industrial life for many blue-collar American workers in the twentieth century -- the degradation of the environment was synonymous with prosperity and financial security. ...read more