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.


In the last years of her life, Martha began to lose her feathers. Sol Stephan, General Manager of the Cincinnati Zoo, where Martha spent most of her years, began collecting the feathers in a cigar box without much idea of what he would do with them. Martha lived a sedentary life at the zoo. Her cage was 18 feet by 20 feet — she had never known what it was to fly free. When Martha’s last friend George (who was also named for a Washington) died in 1910, Martha became a celebrity. She watched the people passing by, alone in her enclosure, and they watched her. Martha ate her cooked liver and eggs, and her cracked corn, and sat. On the outside of her cage, Stephan placed a sign announcing Martha as the Last of the Passenger Pigeons. Visitors couldn’t believe that Martha really was the last. They would throw… More…

“We will be very lucky to see the Olive White-eye on the island,” says Diane Laboucherie, my 25-year-old eco-tour guide on Île aux Aigrettes. Though there are only six of the sparrow-sized birds, ranking them as the rarest species on the nature reserve that lies a half a mile off Mauritius’ coastal mainland near Mahebourg, we spot a pair almost immediately.

Flittering from branch to branch, it turns out that they are creatures of habit, and finding them in this spot was no fluke. Minutes earlier, Laboucherie had slipped into the warden’s quarters housing the island’s nine resident biologists and botanists, asking them where we would be most likely to find them. “Just out the front door,” must have been the reply.

A little later, Laboucherie pauses mid-stride and gazes into the stunted bushes lining a cleared path through the middle of the island. With scant soil covering, there’s little… More…

Scientists from Bangor University’s School of Ocean Studies in Wales recently killed the longest-lived creature ever discovered. It was a clam. A quahog clam, to be precise and it had been living off the coast of Iceland for a little bit more than 400 years until this autumn, when it was dredged up by the team of scientists and opened, thereby killing it, in order to study the rings inside its shell for information about changes in the environment. ABC News noted that as an infant clam it would have been alive at the same time that Shakespeare was staging Hamlet.

This brings to mind a few famous lines from Wordsworth’s poem “The Tables Turned.” He writes:

Our meddling intellect Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:— We murder to dissect.

These lines tend to get bandied about every time something like the clam incident occurs, which is often. We’re always… More…