Our contributors offered expert ideas and perspective about pandemics, climate change, the Trump administration and more.


This was the year of Tiger King and COVID-19. But that’s just scratching the surface.

Every month The Revelator invites top experts from around the world to share their insights into the environmental issues defining the news — and sometimes the topics people should be talking about but aren’t.

This year the pandemic dominated our Ideas section, as did the damaging impacts of the Trump administration. We also addressed the science and policies of environmental justice, climate change and more, including a few moving personal narratives from people directly involved in those efforts.

Here are 12 of the essays and op-eds that stuck with us as we closed the door on a very difficult year:

Picking Up the Pieces: My Search and Rescue Mission for Fallen Songbirds — A personal scientific story that shows how success is possible, even if it takes more time than we’d like.

A Crop Pandemic Would Be as Devastating for Biodiversity and Food Security as COVID-19 — A little-known threat that could destroy plants much as the coronavirus destroyed communities.

Tiger King: 5 Lessons From Beneath the Mayhem — The famously salacious docuseries left reality on the cutting-room floor. Two conservationists filled us in on what the producers missed.

Working From Home During the Pandemic Has Environmental Benefits — But We Can Do Even Better — And let’s hope this remains our work reality for as long as possible.

COVID-19 Reveals a Crisis of Public Spaces — Always ask yourself: Who’s left out of the conversation?

200 Years Ago My Family Built a Dam — Now My Organization Is Tearing It Down — You never know what you’re going to find in your own family history.

Don’t Look Away — Our editorial about why justice matters.

Food Waste in the Time of COVID-19: The Real Reason to Cry Over Spilt Milk — A shocking news story leads to a call for change.

How COVID-19 Took Hold and Why We Must End the Wildlife Trade — A cry for action.

Coronaviruses and the Human Meat Market — A grisly look at the human factor behind the pandemic.

EPA Enforcement in Distress — and More Trouble Is Brewing — An insider reveals what those in power would prefer to remain hidden.

How to Make Climate Refugee Protections a Reality — A framework for helping the most vulnerable being affected by the climate crisis.

The new year will undoubtedly bring new discoveries — and some opportunities.

Would you like to be a part of the conversation in the year ahead? We’re always looking for new voices. Find out how to contribute here.

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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.