Natural Inheritance

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Robert Paine is a super-famous ecologist, the first person to really nail down the process known as a “trophic cascade,” by which top predators have a forcing effect that deeply impacts the entire food web.   Many years ago Paine did an experiment off the North Atlantic coast, removing sea stars (formerly […]

The End of Love

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Marilyn Yalom proposes How the French Invented Love, giving us “Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance,” and then she brings us up to the present day, in which the French have seemingly lost the recipe.  Yalom is the prolific elucidator of many feminine-oriented fields of inquiry, including A History of […]

How to Save Nature

By Mary Ellen Hannibal The subtitle of my book, The Spine of the Continent, is:  “The most ambitious wildlife conservation project ever undertaken.” Now that the book has been out for a few months, and I’ve given a bunch of radio show interviews (most recently on KQED with Michael Krasny), slide presentations, and readings about the […]

Take Note

 By Mary Ellen Hannibal The connections between art, science, and detective work are no more apparent than in the field journal.  Through the mostly hand-written notes recorded by botanists, novelists, and police officers, the raw materials of who, what, when, and where are documented over time so that eventually patterns can be discerned and the big […]

Red-Hawks in Coffins

By Mary Ellen Hannibal When I first visited the Bay Area more than 25 years ago, my future husband, a San Francisco native, took me around to the sacred spots.  There was the site of the Mabuhay Gardens, several Chinese restaurants, Land’s End and Ocean Beach.  In Berkeley, there was the university itself, and the […]

The Elephant, and Everything Else, in Room after Room after Room

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Even though I have written a book about evolution, I confess to kneeling in awe at the concept.  And indeed, having read literally hundreds of papers and books explaining evolution from many a vantage point, I suspect that even brainiac scientists who can sketch out on cocktail napkins the molecular transfer […]

The Writer’s Life

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Groping In post-modern fashion, Michel Houellebecq’s novel The Map and the Territory includes a character  named Michel Houellebecq.  The character Houellebecq comes on the scene well into the action of the book, which follows artist Jed Martin, a mostly disaffected guy who escapes his own anomie at several key junctures only […]

Time’s Up

By Mary Ellen Hannibal The bromide “age is just a number” is likely to refer with frequency to triple digits, according to David Ewing Duncan in his new TED publication, When I’m 164: The New Science of Radical Life Extension, and What Happens If It Succeeds. Veteran biotech journalist Duncan purposes a new e-book format, brought […]

Changing Shadows, Unchanging Dreams

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Documentary photography trains its shutter on the “real,” capturing things as they are in a specific moment in time – and that’s what makes it often seem unreal to me, and even more intriguing. Whatever else is going on here on this Earth, time is ticking by and making changes, changes, […]

The Writer’s Life: Mob-sourcing extinction education (and fun!)

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Our own version of Charles Dickens’ famous opener to A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” might go something like this:  On the one hand, we are choking off our life-line to biodiversity, big time. If you really want to know […]