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According to the online website The Death Clock, a man born on my birthdate can be expected to die 20 years from now in 2036. This assumes, however, that the entire human race does not become extinct before the estimated date of my demise.

More… “Countdown to Extinction”

Michael Lind is a contributing writer of The Smart Set, a fellow at New America in Washington, D.C., and author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States.
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On the day we went to see the Great Serpent Mound, the rain plunged from the sky. Lightning shot down to the cornfields and made the cornfields roar. Everything was dark. Guides recommend that you come to the Serpent early or late in the day, when shadows alongside it are deep and the winding shape becomes bolder. But on the day we visited, the whole of Ohio was shadow, save the neat green grass of the Serpent’s skin, which was oddly bright.

When the first European settlers came to farm southwestern Ohio, they found earthen lumps scattered all around the land. They did not know what these lumps could be — some farmers went about flattening them, others farmed around them. In the 1840s, a local doctor and a newspaper editor from the town of Chillicothe investigated the mounds. They discovered wooden structures inside, built to house the dead of Native tribes whose names are lost to us now. Jewelry and effigies were placed around the cremated remains to keep the spirits company. Then the Mound Builders covered over the structures with layers of soil and sand. As the generations passed, new dead were buried on top of the old, and more earth was put on top, until the mounds grew higher and higher and the little wooden structure collapsed within.
More… “The Face of the Earth”

Stefany Anne Golberg is a writer and multi-media artist. She has written for The Washington Post (Outlook), Lapham’s Quarterly, New England Review, and others. Stefany is currently a columnist for The Smart Set and Critic-in-Residence at Drexel University. A book of Stefany’s selected essays can be found here. She can be reached at stefanyanne@gmail.com.
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In recent years many scientists have come to use the term “the Anthropocene” for the geological era that started when human beings began to alter the earth’s environment in a major way — defined variously as the mass extinctions produced by Ice Age hunters, the transformation of landscapes by Neolithic farmers, or more recently, with the industrial revolution. Dubbing themselves “ecomodernists,” a group of environmental thinkers associated with the Breakthrough Institute have published a new manifesto calling for a “good Anthropocene.” They write: “A good Anthropocene demands that humans use their growing social, economic, and technological powers to make life better for people, stabilize the climate, and protect the natural world.”
More… “The Case for Ecomodernism”

Michael Lind is a contributing writer of The Smart Set, a fellow at New America in Washington, D.C., and author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States.
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November 19 is one of the only unsung days of the year Hallmark hasn’t yet exploited: World Toilet Day. We spend about three years of our lives sitting on a toilet. Though we in the Western world may not realize it, that white piece of flushable porcelain is one of man’s best friends. We sit on its haunches morning, noon, and night, usually between six and eight times a day. It’s there for us after six-packs of beer, dried prunes, and bad Mexican food; through late nights and parties, bouts of nervousness and morning sickness; in sickness and in health. A good American Standard rarely lets us down and when it does, we just yank its chain and it dutifully begins to work again. These bad boys put up with our shit and rarely complain.

But some 2.6… More…

 

What are poets doing to lessen their carbon footprint? — Lisa G., St. Louis, Missouri

Dean Young’s “Whale Watch” captures the sentiment of many poets regarding the Earth’s environmental condition, no matter what our political persuasions:

…You may want to fall to your knees and beg forgiveness without knowing precisely for what. You may have a hole in your heart. You may solve the equation but behind it lurks another equation. You may never get what you want and feel like you’re already a ghost and a failed ghost at that, unable to walk through walls…

All poets can vary along on a continuum — from Green Peace supporters who have converted to veganism, to monster truck drivers who don’t recycle — but the current environmental crisis has, I believe, made all poets feel a little guilty every… More…

 

It’s not easy to get to the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., without driving. But if you were determined to do so, you’d take the Metro from downtown, then transfer to the B2 bus. There’s no stop at the Arboretum itself, but if you ask the driver whether that bus goes by the institution, as I did, he might pull over anyway and yell back that this is where you have to get off. Either way, you still have to walk about a quarter of a mile down a quiet residential street before you come to the low stone pillars that mark the entrance to the living museum.

If you were determined to make such a trek now, your fuel-saving efforts would be rewarded with Power Plants — a new temporary exhibit that explores flora’s potential to revolutionize… More…