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The Sun Magazine

The Natural World

Pollution

The Sun Interview

Quiet, Please

Gordon Hempton On The Search For Silence In A Noisy World

Certainly people have their preferences regarding music and other sounds they like to listen to, but I do believe there is an “ideal” soundscape, and I’ve given it a name: “sonesia.” It includes the sounds of wildlife, such as songbirds. It includes the gentle sound of insects and the sound of distant water. (Up close, rushing water can mask the other sonic elements of the environment.) All of these sounds are indicative of grassland, a savannah. That’s where humans evolved, along with songbirds, which are the best indicator of an environment’s suitability for human prosperity: where songbirds live, there is also sufficient food for humans.

Quotations

Sunbeams

In New England they once thought blackbirds useless, and mischievous to the corn. They made efforts to destroy them. The consequence was, the blackbirds were diminished; but a kind of worm, which devoured their grass, and which the blackbirds used to feed on, increased prodigiously; then, finding their loss in grass much greater than their saving in corn, they wished again for their blackbirds.

Benjamin Franklin

The Sun Interview

The Good Earth?

Sandra Steingraber On How We’ve Made The Environment Dangerous To Our Health

Cancer is definitely not a random tragedy. If you look at a map of the U.S. and plot out the incidence of different sorts of cancers, you see patterns. Some cancers are more common in the Midwest and the Great Plains. Other cancers tend to cluster around certain industries. Those cancer maps are not proof, but they present a compelling hypothesis. If we see, over and over again, that bladder-cancer rates are higher in counties with leaking toxic-waste dumps — which is indeed the case — then that’s a clue. If we see leukemias and lymphomas are highest in areas of the Great Plains and the Midwest where herbicide use is highest, that’s a clue. It means “Dig here. Further inquiry required.”

Sy Safransky's Notebook

December 2008

When a friend called with the news, I assumed he was putting me on. A deer, he said, had crashed through the plate-glass window of a pottery store in downtown Chapel Hill. It was exactly one month after the 9/11 attacks, and I wasn’t in the mood for a joke.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Shade

A Letter From Gettysburg

I didn’t learn about the tree-cutting program at Gettysburg National Military Park until I saw early evidence of its implementation. Just north of the hill known as Little Round Top, more than a hundred large trees — maples, oaks, tulip trees, mulberries, magnolias, cedars, hickories, and ash — were felled and hauled away in a matter of weeks.

Quotations

Sunbeams

Underground nuclear testing, defoliation of the rain forests, toxic waste . . . Let’s put it this way: if the world were a big apartment, we wouldn’t get our deposit back.

John Ross

The Sun Interview

Against The Current

Barry Lopez On Writing About Nature And The Nature Of Writing

I’ve become acutely aware of the political danger the country is in. The champions of material wealth, the acolytes of technology, and the religious extremists are so loud, so bellicose, so uncompromising. Who will rein them in? Who’s not afraid to criticize their notions of “progress”?

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