Some scientists call our present moment the Anthropocene—a theoretical new epoch defined by humanity's massive and unprecedented influence on the environment. No matter what terms you use, one thing is clear: "Nature" doesn't seem so natural anymore. Geoengineers are dumping iron into the ocean and sprinkling clouds with salt to reverse global warming. Animal species are dying off at unprecedented rates. And a rise in sea level is threatening the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who live in coastal areas.
Our May issue investigates the natural world in a moment of flux, a time of uncertainty and strangeness. Who are the key players redefining the environment for good or for ill? Who is suffering from the consequences of these massive changes? More fundamentally: Can humanity survive?
The stories in this issue reflect the urgency of our times: Nathaniel Rich investigates a deadly plague causing sea stars to tear themselves apart. A group of prominent scientists and writers each share one thing we can do to reverse all the harm we've done to the planet. Christopher Ketcham writes about suing the government because they won't let him watch their slaughter of bison in Montana. A photographer and a writer travel along the proposed route of the Keystone XL Pipeline to meet the people who'll be affected if it ever gets built. Raven Rakia looks into the case of a prison near a coal-ash dump in Pennsylvania where many inmates have gotten cancer.
If you want to learn more about why we put this issue together, read this letter from VICE co-founder Shane Smith. Then move on to the issue's introduction, which explains the Anthropocene in greater detail and why our poor Earth will never be the same because of our greed. Enjoy!