Environment

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Melissa Gaskill

Perhaps 20-40 percent of worldwide tourists partake in wildlife-watching. When done right, that experience enriches travelers’ lives without interfering with those of animals. In Pandas to Penguins: Ethical Encounters with Animals at Risk, Melissa Gaskill profiles twenty-five species and one endangered ecosystem that draw tourists. She highlights local ecofriendly travel outfitters in each area.

Rachel Nuwer

While Western audiences widely oppose the slaughter of wildlife and marketing of tusks, horns, and other body parts, polls show little shift in favor of conservation in Asia, Rachel Nuwer reports in Poached: Inside the Dark World of Wildlife Trafficking. Nuwer traveled to 12 countries to examine the illegal demand for wildlife and efforts underway made to halt impending species extinctions.

Sharon Levy

Swamps and marshes once covered vast stretches of the North American landscape. The destruction of these habitats, long seen as wastelands that harbored deadly disease, accelerated in the twentieth century. Today, the majority of the original wetlands in the US have vanished, transformed into farm fields or buried under city streets.

Heather Hansen

Every year wildfires ravage forests, destroy communities, and devastate human lives, with only the bravery of dedicated firefighters creating a barrier against even greater destruction. Throughout the 2016 wildfire season, journalist Heather Hansen witnessed firsthand the heroics of the Station 8 crew in Boulder, Colorado. She tells that story here, layered with the added context of the history, science, landscape, and human behavior that, year-by-year, increases the severity, frequency, and costs of conflagrations in the West. She examines the changes in both mindset and activity around wildfires and tracks the movement from wildfire as something useful, to something feared, to something necessary but roundly dreaded.

Eleanor Spicer Rice, Alex Wild, Rob Dunn

Did you know that for every human on earth, there are about one million ants? They are among the longest-lived insects — with some ant queens passing the 30-year mark — as well as some of the strongest. Fans of both the city and countryside alike, ants decompose dead wood, turn over soil (in some places more than earthworms), and even help plant forests by distributing seeds. But while fewer than 30 of the nearly 1,000 ant species living in North America are true pests, we cringe when we see them marching across our kitchen floors.

Maryn McKenna

In this eye-opening exposé, acclaimed health journalist and National Geographic contributor Maryn McKenna documents how antibiotics transformed chicken from local delicacy to industrial commodity — and human health threat — uncovering the ways we can make America's favorite meat safer again.