Displaying items by tag: environmental journalism
Alabama is home to remarkably diverse ecosystems: They face dire threats.
This story was originally published by The Revelator.
When longtime environmental journalist Ben Raines started writing a book about the biodiversity in Alabama, the state had 354 fish species known to science. When he finished writing 10 years later, that number had jumped to 450 thanks to a bounty of new discoveries. Crawfish species leaped from 84 to 97 during the same time.
It’s indicative of a larger trend: Alabama is one of the most biodiverse states in the country, but few people know it. And even scientists are still discovering the rich diversity of life that exists there, particularly in the Mobile River basin.
All this newly discovered biodiversity is also gravely at risk from centuries of exploitation, which is what prompted Raines to write his new book, “Saving America’s Amazon.”
What stories could the lonely Fort Sanders Hellmann’s jar share about its weekend excesses?
(Note from the author: This piece is about my neighborhood — Fort Sanders in Knoxville near the University of Tennessee. I wrote this for my environmental journalism class with Dr. Mark Littmann. We were tasked with writing a sketch about the world around us. I wanted to paint a picture of what I see outside every day when I walk around Fort Sanders.)
There’s a half-full jar of mayonnaise in the front yard.
Its lid is gone, nowhere to be found. Next to it are a trio of Bud Light Premium glass bottles, lounging in the mud.
Up the street are two smashed cans, three Styrofoam to-go containers, and a smattering of cardboard, all left out in the cold to weather the harsh judgement of Sunday morning.
Every few feet more treasures appear. Cans, bottles, broken glass, clothes, needles, and old furniture. None of it looks out of place here. The green crab grass grows through the pull tabs and gray squirrels play with leftover food on the sidewalk.
Nothing is where it should be, but it all feels right; it’s an extra blanket of junk tucking the earth in for bed.
Except for the mayonnaise jar in the yard.
Collecting these treasures off the street feels hopeless. The moment a piece of garbage makes it into the trash bag, two more pieces appear.
Memories of Saturday night are left out in the gutter, no one to share them with. It happens every week. Stories of a fun night with friends cast aside into the storm drain. A nice meal left out in the rain. Cigarette butts from a moment alone.
What story does the mayonnaise in the yard have to tell?