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If You Really Love Nature, Don’t Live Anywhere Near It

Almost universally, people living in urban locations have a much smaller environmental footprint.

Ironically, not the home of a nature lover

I used to share an office with an older man, a nature lover. He put in a full career working for the government as an environmental engineer and was just counting the days until his retirement. His dream was to move 30 miles south of the city, right on the lake, a famous migratory spot and thus a favorite site for birding. There was nothing wrong with his dream, per se, and it’s a fairly common and simple one, almost clichéd, for members of his generation. Nature lovers often seek to literally own a piece of it, to behold it by living life within its depths. Many have dreamt of catching a glimpse of deer grazing in the backyard over morning breakfast or hearing the cry of a hawk at night.

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How Elves and Serpents are Saving Iceland for Future Generations

Most Iceland residents believe in magic to some degree, and it’s helping to preserve the environment, foster community … and rake in tourism dollars

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

Last month, the mayor of the 2,200-person town of Egilsstaðir in eastern Iceland matter-of-factly announced that his government had verified video proving the existence of the Lagarfljótsormur, the Iceland Worm Monster. A fixture of Icelandic myth since 1345, the Worm is supposedly a 300-foot sea serpent, which thrashes about and slithers up onto the surface from within the glacier-fed Lagarfljót Lake. Some say the Lagarfljótsormur was put there by men, some say it was tied to the bottom by Finns to keep its bloody appetites in check, and some say its lashing and churning portends disaster. But rather than go the way of most wyrms—into myth, history, and crackpot theories—a casual, possibly coy half-belief in the Lagarfljótsormur and many more magical creatures still persists in Iceland, with modern-day sightings by government officials, entire classrooms of children, and as in the case of the 2012 film that supposedly confirmed the serpent’s existence, men casually observing a roiling river demon over a cup of coffee. Many suspect these “beliefs” are just opportunistic bids for attention or tourism dollars. But no matter the motive, the Lagarfljótsormur and its mythic kin now play a significant role in shaping Iceland’s relationship with and preservation of its own culture and the natural world it’s tied to.

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When Australia and its island state Tasmania signed the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement in 2011, it seemed to offer a peaceful conclusion to the fight over the country's natural forests that had raged for decades. That agreement, which expanded the protected area of Tasmanian forests and provided resources for logging companies to develop alternative plantation-based pulp production, may be in danger if Tasmania's new state government gets its way.

Will Hodgman, whose term as the premier of Tasmania started at the end of March, announced plans this week to repeal the agreement and open up around 400,000 previously protected hectares of forest for the timber industry.

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A Gallery Where Every Piece of Art Celebrates and Supports the Environment

The gallery G2 features artists who capture the environment at its best, and donates a portion of its proceeds to make sure it stays that way.

What if buying that large-format print of a gorgeous Pacific Ocean sunset actually helped to preserve that gorgeous Pacific Ocean sunset? The G2 Gallery in Venice, California, not only chooses the artists it features based on their affinity for science and nature, it donates 100 percent of proceeds from every sale to environmental charities like Conservation International and NRDC.

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What's Your Earth Day 2011 Pledge?

Earth Day, in its current form, is an abomination. Let's infuse it with a modicum of meaning.


Last week, we not only opined on the fecklessness of Earth Day, but also vowed to do something about it.

Today, we're asking you to make Earth Day pledges, in which you promise to take action (any action) that demonstrates your commitment to improving your relationship with the environment. Here's my pledge:

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Help TreePeople Replant the Fire-Damaged Angeles National Forest

Over a year later, Angeles National Forest has still not recovered from the worst fires in L.A. history. TreePeople is leading tree-planting efforts.



Winter in Los Angeles might not bring true wintry weather (unless you count last weekend's "graupel" in Burbank), but we do face a far more frightening threat, thanks to the massive forest fire that swept through Angeles National Forest in 2009. The mountains in Los Angeles County have still not recovered from the Station Fire, which burned 160,577 acres over the course of two months. And in the winter, when rains saturate the ground, entire hillsides slide towards people's homes like wet chocolate cake.

Even though I know the loss of vegetation can be dangerous, when I saw a call from TreePeople, a local environmental nonprofit, to help replant those hillsides with new trees, I was a little confused. Haven't we been told that these kinds of fires are a natural part of the Southern California ecosystem, and that some parched hillsides even need the fires to properly replenish their nutrients?

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