From the extinction crisis to environmental justice, these articles showcase what we have to lose and how people are working to make a brighter future.

Sonoran Desert National Monument, photo by Bob Wick/BLM

Looking back on the environmental news of 2019, it’s hard not to feel the weight of the year that was.

But at the same time, we saw a lot of great progress and emerging solutions. These are the types of stories that keep us going.

Here at The Revelator, we try to tell stories that help inspire change — and will continue to do so long after they’re first published. Sure, a lot of the articles we publish feel bleak, but you need to examine the darkness before you can dispel it.

Here, in completely random order, are a dozen Revelator articles from the past year that we feel reflect that attitude. You’ll find interesting characters, difficult conundrums, some terrible losses, and also a few roadmaps to the future.


Dr. Robert Bullard: Lessons From 40 Years of Documenting Environmental Racism — The “father of environmental justice” looks back and offers lessons for today and the future.

We’re Just Starting to Learn How Fracking Harms Wildlife — We need to know more, quickly.

Hawaii’s Snail Extinction Crisis: ‘We’re Just Trying to Stop the Bleeding’ — A sad story from the “extinction capital of the world.”

What Laws Work Best to Cut Plastic Pollution? — Sometimes the tools we need to protect us are already in place.

Rise of the Extinction Deniers — Climate deniers don’t have a monopoly on disinformation.

Are We Ready for Shark Conservation to Succeed? — The same question needs to be asked for just about every conservation project.

Drones, Algae and Fish Ears: What We’re Learning Before the World’s Largest Dam-removal Project — and What We Could Miss — Many dams need to come down, and science will help guide how they do and what happens next.

Naomi Klein: Gearing up for the Political Fight of Our Lives — The pioneering activist and writer shares her perspective on the Green New Deal and other topics.

Why Don’t We Hear About More Species Going Extinct? — Important context for the ongoing extinction crisis.

Cigarette Butts: The Most Littered Item in the World — A fun/scary video examining something many of us might overlook.

Steal of a Deal: How Ranchers Take Advantage of Public Lands — Another entertaining video that helps illuminate a serious topic.

What Losing 1 Million Species Means for the Planet — and Humanity — It hurts.


What were your favorites? Did anything you enjoyed reading on The Revelator this year not make the list? Let us know in the comments.

And stay tuned for more great articles — good news and bad — in the New Year to come, starting with a look at the most important environmental stories we’ll be following in 2020.

John R. Platt

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.