All good things must come to an end—or at least to a time of change.
That’s the case with “Extinction Countdown.”
No, don’t worry. This column isn’t going extinct, like so many of the species that I write about. It’s just going somewhere else.
Yes, after eight incredible years here at Scientific American, a place I have been proud to call home, I am moving “Extinction Countdown” to a new environmental investigative news site affiliated with the Center for Biological Diversity. I will also be editing the site, which premieres soon. Look for announcements in the near future.
Until the new site launches, I will continue posting plenty of news about endangered species and related topics on Facebook and Twitter. Please feel free to follow me there and keep up with the ongoing conversation.
The past eight years would not have been possible without all of my editors here at Scientific American, starting with Ivan Oransky and David Biello, who first invited me to blog for the magazine long before the launch of the official Scientific American Blog Network and just after the death of my previous publisher, Plenty magazine (you can read the full history of “Extinction Countdown” here). Other invaluable editors over the years have included Robin Lloyd, Philip Yam, Curtis Brainard, and Michael Lemonick. There’s also an entire team of copyeditors, IT people and other experts that make this magazine the award-winning powerhouse that it is.
I also want to thank each of you for reading. Extinction is a heady subject and the news isn’t always good—okay, it rarely is—but knowing that my readers care is always enough to keep me going.
And keep going, I will. The new site will allow me to take “Extinction Countdown” forward while also giving me the opportunity to dive deep into a whole host of related environmental topics and drive the conversation forward during these troubling times. I can’t say much yet, but it’s all pretty exciting.
Before I go, let’s take a moment to look back. Here are a few of what I found to be the most memorable “Extinction Countdown” articles from over the past eight years. It’s hard to boil this down from nearly 900 articles—and this list doesn’t include any of the conservation-related pieces I have written for other publications—but it should give you a good perspective on what’s been covered here and what you’ll see more of in the future.
- Only 4 Northern White Rhinos Remain in Africa: Inside the Last Attempts to Breed and Save Them — I write an obituary every time one of another member of this species dies. (We’re now down to three, by the way.)
- The Amazing Biodiversity within an Elephant's Footprint – A reminder of what we’re losing in the current elephant poaching crisis.
- Giraffes under Threat: Populations Down 40 Percent in Just 15 Years – I was one of the first journalists to report on this threat, something the rest of the world is finally starting to notice.
- Once Extinct in the Wild, Kihansi Spray Toad Returns to Tanzania (by Way of the Bronx and Toledo) – An incredible success story.
- Can the Most Interesting Man in the World Help Save This Critically Endangered Wombat? – Too much fun, interviewing a fake person for a very real cause. Speaking of fakes...
- Film Fakery: Does Shark Week Harm Conservation Efforts? – This raised all kinds of important issues. You’ll never look at nature documentaries the same way again.
- Apps for Apes: Engaging Orangutans with iPads – A great, positive story that’s not exactly about conservation but it’s definitely about cool people doing interesting things to help endangered apes.
- How the Western Black Rhino Went Extinct – In which I correct the record by digging back into history.
- Nextinction: Ralph Steadman Goes Gonzo for Endangered Birds – One of the most enjoyable interviews of my life.
- Microjewels: Stunningly Beautiful Snails Going Extinct As Soon As They Are Discovered – Beauty and tragedy, all rolled up into one.
- Lion Meat Tacos (You Read That Right) Are the Latest Threat to Conservation – Ick.
- Puppeteer Helping to Save Real-Life "Big Bird" from Extinction – One of my earlier articles for SciAm, and one that I think about all the time.
- Meet the Pangolin, Another Animal Threatened by Traditional Asian Medicine – Again, I was one of the first people to regularly report on the threats facing the world’s pangolins. I could have picked any of a dozen articles about these incredible creatures for this list, but this was one of my earliest.
- Shocking Study Finds Lions are Nearly Extinct in West Africa – I have written about lions so many times over the years. This one was the worst news of the bunch.
- The Surprising (and Mostly Legal) Trade in "Mermaid Ivory" — It’s not what you think it is.
- Lawsuit to Remove Plant from Endangered Species List Completely Backfires – A nice twist.
- Stowaway Snail Helps Save Species from Extinction – A great success story.
- Found: A Snake Species No One Believed Existed – A decades-long mystery solved.
- Unfair Trade: A Week in the World of Illegal Wildlife Trafficking – I have always wanted to do something like this again. The impact sure adds up.
- What's in the Box? A Long-Lost Species – Science takes a lot of twists and turns.
- Rare Naked Ladies Crocus Infected with Even Rarer Smutty Fungus – My best headline ever or my best headline ever? Also, a chance to write about the tiny things that so often get neglected.
- When Did the Barbary Lion Really Go Extinct? – It took me six months to report this interesting story, which combines both history and a modern-day mystery.
Well, that’s it for now. I look forward to seeing you again in the very near future. Once again, thanks for reading, stay in touch, and thanks for caring about the endangered plants and animals around us.