Orion Articles

The Whole Fracking Enchilada

September 15th, 2010

“I HAVE COME to believe that extracting natural gas from shale using the newish technique called hydrofracking is the environmental issue of our time. And I think you should, too.” Read the ORION article

Shale Game

May 15th, 2010

“WHEN I MOVED MY FAMILY FROM a cabin in the woods outside of Ithaca, New York, into a house in a nearby village, it felt like a faith healing. I could walk again. A sidewalk stretched from my door out to a craggy maple tree and then connected with another sidewalk that headed down the block toward Main Street. Here was a track, upon which the wheels of a double stroller could roll, that linked me to coffee, library books, postage stamps, hardware displays, bank tellers, and a bus line. Hallelujah.” Read the ORION article

Ecological Inheritance

November 15th, 2009

“FOR SIX CONSECUTIVE SEMESTERS in the early 1990s, I taught a seminar on Charles Darwin to nonscience majors at an urban community college. We read Darwin’s writings closely—often out loud to each other—along with commentary by scholars. We looked at the evidence that Darwin amassed for his theory of natural selection, and we looked at the evidence amassed in subsequent years.” Read the ORION article

The Story About the One

July 15th, 2009

“WHEN A WOMAN visits a gynecologist’s office, the receptionist hands her a pen, a clipboard, and a medical intake form. To fill it out, she finds a seat among the waiting room’s plastic plants and pregnant women and clicks open the ballpoint—which is imprinted with the name of a drug marketed by the company of the most recent pharmaceutical rep to visit the office.” Read the ORION article

3 Bets

May 15th, 2009

“THIRTY YEARS AGO, in between my sophomore and junior years of college, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Those are amazing words to write: Thirty years ago I had cancer. I had just turned twenty. I was hoping that I would live long enough to have sex with someone; I hadn’t done that yet. I could not have imagined, while lying in my hospital bed, exhaling anesthesia, that someday I could write, Thirty years ago I had cancer.” Read the ORION article

Sounds Like a Lot to Me

March 15th, 2009

“In 1989, I finished graduate school and took a research position at a think tank in San Francisco. During the job interview, the institute’s founders mentioned that the salary was $24,000. I said, “That sounds like a lot.” I’m pretty sure that sentence does not appear in how-to-negotiate-to-win books. But I was twenty-nine and living on $7,000 in teaching stipends, so it was a candid, if unstrategic, thing to say. The founders looked at each other. Then one of them said, slowly, ‘Sandra . . . it’s not.’” Read the ORION article

The Big Talk

September 15th, 2008

“I WAS GOOGLING MYSELF recently (in an attempt, if you must know, to locate an essay that I had published somewhere), and I managed to misspell my own name. So I was directed to the one source that had mangled my name in the same way. And that is how I was confronted, in an obscure blog, with the question, ‘Why isn’t Sandra Steingraber [with dyslexic spelling] talking about climate change?'” Read the ORION article

Environmental Amnesia

May 15th, 2008

“I WOULD LIKE TO REPORT THAT IT takes two hours to jog around the periphery of the Mall of America, the nation’s largest indoor shopping center in Bloomington, Minnesota. The two hours includes circumnavigating the mall’s 520 stores along with its 20,000 parking spaces, which are mostly contained within orbital rings of monumentally sized parking garages.” Read the ORION article

The Fall of a Sparrow

January 15th, 2008

“They arrive uninvited, poor relations with little to recommend them and no plans to leave. Their motto: this’ll do. A hole or a crevice is fine for them. So are rafters, ivy, a streetlamp, a rain-gutter clip. In Kansas, they reside in the continuously bobbing heads of oil pumps. In Turkmenistan, they excavate loess banks. In the Arctic, they squat in railroad roundhouses. Found on six continents, they are the world’s most widely distributed bird. Urban or rural is immaterial to them. Except for this: they are never found more than four hundred meters from a human structure.” Read the ORION article

The Rabies Principle

September 15th, 2007

“THE FINEST DESCRIPTION of the precautionary principle that I’ve ever heard came from David Gee of the European Environment Agency in a speech before a convocation of environmental ministers in Belgium. After arguing that benefit of the doubt should be granted to public health rather than to the things that threaten it, Gee said that precaution helps us avoid, during times of uncertainty, the construction of ‘pipelines of unstoppable consequences.’ Gee’s remarks were met with stout applause.” Read the ORION article