icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle


Environment Eviscerated, Opportunity Lost

Approaching my 50th birthday, I find myself looking back at the contours of my life. I could not possibly have imagined it would follow the path that it is. From almost as long as I can remember, I wanted to write about wildlife and the environment, to be a defender of animals and their habitats. I pursued that goal with dogged determination: writing my first articles for New Scientist and BBC Wildlife when I was 18, co-founding the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society at 19, appearing on TV discussing whales and whaling by 20, joining Greenpeace just before I turned 21, heading out on my first anti-whaling expedition to Antarctica at 23 ...

Things began to change in 2003, when I was 35. That was the year that Roz Kidman-Cox, the editor who had mentored me and nurtured my writing for more than 15 years, left BBC Wildlife, and the magazine that had been my primary outlet for many years became at best an occasional market for my writing. That was also the year that I moved to Las Vegas for eight months, ostensibly for a short-term book project on boxing, which ultimately led to a significant life change.

There was a re-immersion into environmental matters in 2005, when I rejoined Greenpeace for 18 months or so; and then in 2009 and 2010, I coordinated back-to-back expeditions for them, to Greenland and the Gulf of Mexico respectively. Since then, I have not worked with Greenpeace at all, although I have continued to do occasional work for other organizations, notably the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Polar Bears International.

But in 2009 I began writing for Discovery Channel News, and for the next eight years - with occasional interruptions due to budgetary issues - it became my primary outlet. I loved it. I loved everything about writing for Discovery. My various editors cared about the topics we covered, and gave me great leeway to cover a variety of topics, primarily on climate change. It didn't pay that well, but it was really a tremendous platform. Then, late last year, Discovery News was bought by Seeker and earlier this year Seeker laid off all the Discovery editorial staff. They kept on a few freelancers, myself included, but it wasn't the same. The editors didn't have the same connection to or passion for the topics, and had no interest in my writing the kind of policy takedowns that I had enjoyed doing at Discovery. After one of the editors and I fell out over a factual matter, I left, and find myself now without any kind of regular outlet for my environmental writing at all.

Mind you, I barely have the time to write regular environmental pieces anyway, given how busy I am with HBO Boxing - which has become my primary job - and longer-scale writing projects. But still. I need to find another outlet, now more than ever. There is a tremendous amount of great reporting and writing going on right now, and it's necessary, because while the Trump administration is largely characterized by its sheer, staggering incompetence - a reflection, of course, of the man at the head of it all - it is ruthlessly going about assaulting science and the environment. Just today, the Washington Post reports that, among other things, the EPA is repealing another set of emissions standards established by the Obama administration and blocked government scientists from presenting climate change research at a conference in Rhode Island . Meanwhile, the New York Times has found that industry insiders are now calling the shots over the regulation of toxic chemicals at EPA. And that's just the past couple days.

As I said, there is some tremendous reporting out there, for which we should all be grateful. But I wish I were a part of it, and I suspect in years to come I shall regret not being. I'm extremely happy to be doing the things I'm doing. But this is not how I expected things to turn out.
Be the first to comment