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I’m a researcher and writer in ecolinguistics and environmental communication. Get my weekly digest of nature writing ideas/tools:

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents
About me
My Writing
- Ideas in Ecocultural Communication
Nonfiction & Science Writing Strategies
Book Summaries: Key Ideas
Tools I Use For Research and Writing
Work with me
Stay in touch

About me

Hi there! My name is Gavin. I have an M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. My main research examines how language and culture shape human relationships with threatened species and places, with most of my work focused on Hawaiian green sea turtles in Hawai‘i. …

Ed Yong on the Craft of Science Writing and Communication

Photo by Rana Sawalha on Unsplash

When it comes to science writing and communication, there are few writers as skilled at their craft as Ed Yong. He’s something of a science writing prodigy. His writing spans topics ranging from the microbes that inhabit our bodies and orca conservation to language genes and most recently, the current global pandemic.

In fact, Yong’s coronavirus reporting has been widely praised as some of the most well-researched, compelling, and informative coverage on the pandemic. He currently covers science as a staff writer for the Atlantic, and his work has appeared in National Geographic, Nautilus, Scientific American, Wired, Aeon, Nature, the…

Photo by Havilah Galaxy on Unsplash

James Nestor’s book ‘Breath’ chronicles the new science on the ancient art of better breathing.

“If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe better.” — Dr. Andrew Weil

When I first started reading James Nestor’s new book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, I was curious but skeptical. Why do I need to learn to breathe better? I’ve been breathing my whole life. It seems like I’ve been doing it pretty well so far. On average about 25,000 times a day. After all, I’m still alive.

Perhaps if you meditate or practice yoga, you are aware of how…

“The game is to listen, not so much to the full orchestra as to the separate instruments, and to try to locate the players.”

Photo by Rogean James Caleffi on Unsplash

In 1992, philosopher Christopher Manes wrote an influential essay entitled “Nature and Silence.” He argues that modern Western society has lost the ability to listen to nature. Today, we have become enraptured by a powerful anthropocentric myth that humans are the only source of consciousness, subjectivity, and intelligence. Plants, animals, and the wider natural world we inhabit are ‘resources’ whose sole value is based on their utility to humans.

This powerful belief in a ‘silent nature’ — inherited from Western Enlightenment thinking about human exceptionalism – justified human exploitation of a mute earth.

Rennaissance and Enlightenment ‘influencers’ of their time…

3 books that transformed how I think about environmental storytelling and communication.

Photo by Hitoshi Suzuki on Unsplash

Summer reading lists are popping up all over the internet lately. So I thought I’d put a short one together of my own!

As a researcher in environmental communication, I think a lot about the role of language and culture in shaping how we think, feel, and interact with the natural world. What ideas influence the kind of human relationships with nature we value and care about, and therefore the kind of future we hope to create?

Below I’m sharing three books I read this year (so far) that inspired me to think about human-environment relationships in new ways.

#1 Underland, by Robert Macfarlane


Tracing the origin story of the modern public zoo from its birth during the French Revolution to today

Photo by Omar Ram on Unsplash

Intro: The Captivity Paradox

If a zoo were modeled first on serving the ‘spatial needs’ of wildlife, rather than the entertainment needs of humans, then the very commodity zoos depend on for their existence would likely slip away into the less controlled, less displayable wild spaces of a more spacious refuge.

This is the ‘captivity paradox.’

In other words, the ‘captivity paradox’ is the challenge zoos face in giving people the impression animals are ‘wild’ and ‘free,’ while at the same time, making sure animals can’t escape the gaze of a paying audience wanting to be entertained.

For example, John Hammond faces the ‘captivity…

Hellah Sidibe Ran Across The United States And He’s Still Going. His Advice On How to Prioritize Minimum Pressure Habits To Achieve Your Goals

Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

“Ten minutes a day, no matter the circumstances.”

— Hellah Sidibe

Hellah Sidibe has run every single day for more than 1500 days in a row. Most days he clocks in 5 -7 miles. He hasn’t missed a single day.

In a recent episode of the Rich Roll podcast, Hellah tells Rich about the serendipitous journey that led him to become one of the most inspiring runners in the world.

Hellah was born in Mali and came to the United States as a teenager with his parents who were pursuing graduate degrees at Northern Illinois University. Hellah went on to…

A new study examines how ExxonMobil copied the communication playbook of the Tobacco Industry to justify fossil fuels and blame customers

Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation. Dr. Brian Stacy, NOAA veterinarian, prepares to clean an oiled Kemp’s Ridley turtle after the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Credit: NOAA (Creative Commons). Accessed on Climate Visuals.

A new study published by Harvard researchers Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes is the first computational linguistic study examining the entire history of ExxonMobil’s climate communications. The authors meticulously show how ExxonMobil’s

• “…public climate change messaging mimics tobacco industry propaganda.”

• “Rhetoric of climate ‘risk’ downplays the reality and seriousness of climate change.”

• “Rhetoric of consumer ‘demand’ (versus fossil fuel supply) individualizes responsibility”

• “Fossil Fuel Savior frame uses “risk” and “demand” to justify fossil fuels, blame customers.”

The researchers examine ExxonMobil’s use of language in public communications and advertising over the past two decades. They find that…

Since wolves were delisted from the Endangered Species Act other states are looking to copy Wisconsin’s wolf ‘killing spree’

Photo by Eva Blue on Unsplash

Over three wintery days in late February this year, Wisconsin hunters killed 218 wolves, nearly double the state’s “wolf harvesting” quota of 119 wolves.

That’s in addition to around 100 wolves killed over the winter since the Trump administration declared wolf populations “successfully recovered” on October 29, 2020. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service then delisted grey wolf populations in the lower 48 states, except for a small population of Mexican grey wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. …

The 3 Writing Techniques Michael Pollan Uses In His Storytelling

A ladybug in Oregon. Photo courtesy of the author: Gavin Lamb

In a recent episode of the Joe Rogan podcast, writer Michael Pollan visited the show to discuss his new book, This Is Your Mind On Plants. Pollan has made a name for himself as a journalist by writing about the wildly diverse ways humans interact with the nonhuman world of plants.

Pollan is especially skilled at weaving together the cultural, historical, economic, scientific, and personal dimensions of how we use plants, and especially, how plants use us.

Gavin Lamb, PhD

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