The Revelator’s Top 12 Environmental Commentaries of 2021 • The Revelator


Our experts weighed in on hot topics ranging from plastic pollution to the extinction crisis.

This was a year a lot of stuff got done — and a lot of former President Donald Trump’s environmental rollbacks got undone. Congress also pushed forward a big bill on infrastructure, with benefits for wildlife.

The extinction crisis and efforts to protect biodiversity came into sharper focus — although we had to mourn the loss of 23 species. And while we should have been taking big leaps, we did at least inch forward with climate change solutions.

Our expert contributors — and your humble editors — weighed in with their thoughts on these issues and more this year. And we also kicked off a new occasional essay series called Vanishing, which explores some of the human stakes of the wildlife extinction crisis.

As we look back at 2021, here are a dozen of our favorite essays, editorials and op-eds:

Why Plastic Pollution Is a Producer Responsibility — Time to hold manufacturers, not consumers, accountable.

Southern Africa’s Ivory Delusion — Shady economics could fuel a poaching epidemic.

Vanishing: The Bleaching in My Backyard — What does a Texas ice storm have to do with the plight of coral reefs?

23 Gone, Countless More to Save — What can we learn from these losses?

Infrastructure for Insects: Congress Should Invest in Bees and Butterflies — New legislation makes roadsides friendlier for pollinators.

Achieving Net-Zero Climate Targets Will Depend on Public Lands — Nearly a quarter of the nation’s greenhouse gases can be traced directly to public lands.

The Fight Against Extinction Requires Biocultural Restoration — Biological diversity and culture are linked.

End Subsidies That Drive Overfishing and Threaten Ocean Health — This has implications for the climate, too.

Voter Suppression Is the New Climate Denial — Local elections, disinformation and voter disenfranchisement all have environmental consequences.

Beyond Science: Art and the Environment — Our wild places need artists.

Vanishing: Sawfishes Are Weird and Wonderful — But Important, Too — Especially for some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.

As the Climate Changes, Where Are the Safest Places to Live? — Answering that question leads to even more questions about safety, risk and equity.

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is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis.


is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.





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