A mountaintop removal site in West Virginia. Source: earthjustice.org.

In Boone County, West Virginia, residents learn at a young age to avoid all contact with the tap water flowing from pipes in their homes. Ryan Hall-Massey, a seven-year-old boy, has had half of his teeth capped to replace enamel decimated from brushing his teeth with it. An 18-year-old neighbor fared even worse: he has only one tooth remaining. Ryan’s brother is covered with painful lesions on his arms, legs and chest from bathing in the water. In a span of 10 houses in his neighborhood, six people have had brain tumors. …

The Port Arthur oil refinery in Texas when it was flooded by Hurricane Harvey. Source: Earthjustice.org.

When Hurricane Laura made landfall in August 2020, on the Texas and Louisiana coastlines, it ravaged an area dotted with petrochemical plants, oil refineries, and industrial facilities, and predominantly populated by low-income communities of color. Refineries near Houston emitted plumes of over 4 million pounds of air pollution, including benzene and nitrogen oxides — carcinogens that can exacerbate respiratory issues. An hour east, in Westlake, Louisiana, the storm ignited a fire at a chemical plant, leaking plumes of chlorine into the air and forcing a mandatory stay-at-home order for residents. Two months later, toxic pollutants still linger in the air.

Drawing by Bruno Mallart depicting toxic conditions in American prisons. Source: nrdc.org.

Kenneth Hartman was three decades into a life sentence at the California State Prison in Lancaster when he contracted valley fever, a debilitating respiratory infection caused by breathing in fungal spores from the air.

“The severity [of my symptoms] kept increasing to the point that I clearly remember thinking, If I get any sicker, I’m going to die,” Hartman said. “In the space of two weeks of waking every night soaked with sweat, I lost 25 pounds and became increasingly mentally confused. My physical strength was near zero.…

Global industrial capitalism was put to the ultimate test, and it failed admirably.

The Pando Aspen colony in Richfield, Utah.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” -John Muir

I. Interdependence and the Global Industrial Capitalist World-System

The largest living organism on Earth is a colony of Aspen trees in central Utah — a grove of 47,000 genetically identical trunks originating from a single male parent. Connected underground through their root structures, the trees are deeply interdependent — nourishing one another through shared water and nutrients. A threat to one tree produces a ripple effect for neighbors in the stand. …

Transcript of a Speech I Delivered at the Youth Climate Strikes on September 20, 2019 — at the University of Virginia and in Downtown Charlottesville.

I almost didn’t make it here today. Two months ago, I stood shivering, drenched in rain, on a Himalayan mountaintop, as human-sized chunks of rock and full-grown trees plummeted down the cliffside I was hiking. It was random luck that I wasn’t in the path of the catastrophic landslide.

The summer rainy season had arrived a month later than normal. Nepal received its average July rainfall in the span of 3 days, killing over 90 people in landslides and floods.

That same month was the hottest month on record. That month, wildfires ravaged the Arctic; a heat wave killed thousands…

The Case for Environmentalism as the Ethical Value Set of the Millennial Generation

Environmentalism is more than just an academic discipline, a public policy arena, or a career path. It’s an ethos, a morality, a belief system, a value set, an ethical compass pervading every fabric of life, guiding all sorts of behavior. It’s more than a means of making a living — it drives how you go about living, what makes it meaningful, what excites and frustrates you, and what values you consider paramount. It is near impossible to come from a day of environmental work and put your subject matter aside — to carry on with your recreational life business-as-usual —…

2018’s Fate for Immigrants and Refugees

A firefighter rescues a child from a car aflame due to the Syrian Civil War (2018).

Seven Tidbits To Put Things in Perspective

In my 20 years, Environmental Science is the most complexly fascinating, interdisciplinary issue I have come across to date. Using data from biology, chemistry and the Earth Sciences, we draw conclusions to write policy that will shape economies, have ethical implications, and influence food, water, human health, and lifestyle choices for all of humanity for all of the foreseeable future. Because of its breadth, the subject merits pop-science explanations, especially to emphasize the dire straits in which we find ourselves and the urgency of taking strong, deliberate action. …

Reflections on an Italian-American upbringing

My hometown, as a location in space, has deep underpinnings governing a fundamental relationship: that between the food I intake, my body, and mind. I eat for fuel — to build my body strong and powerful — and for a number of other reasons.

This Thanksgiving break, I ate for my shortage of close friends in the area, for my introversion, my lack of recent movie knowledge and insufficient contributions in anti-Trump quotes and pithy remarks at the Thanksgiving dinner table. …

An Incidental Search for Order in a Disordered World

From what I’ve been told, introductory science courses are nightmarish — characterized by rote memorization, by endless vocabulary and drawings of molecular structures.

But, as I sit, craned over my Cellular Biology textbook, scrawling down chemical reaction formulas, I am overcome by a strange sense of comfort. I brim with a body-wide sense of contentment and joy.

I’ve spent much of my undergraduate career sampling what the humanities have to offer — existential questions of moral philosophy, the sociology of religion, how to employ ethics to think about climate change. Early in college, I was most intrigued by the nuances…

Allie Lowy

Aspiring human.

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