Environment

Clouds gathering over Pittsburgh

by Nick Keppler
As his rowboat swept over Penn Avenue, Charles H. Allard looked for the bronze tablet on the Horne’s building. The object commemorated the high water mark of the Flood of 1907, previously the most severe flood to ravage Pittsburgh. Allard, reporting for the Pittsburgh Post-​Gazette on March 18, 1936, couldn’t…

Neither, Either, Or

by John Allison
If you want to explore the vexing subject of global climate change, Seamus McGraw is the guy to have as a tour guide. He will not torture your brain with elaborate science, tax your patience with lectures about evil consumer habits, or bash you over the head with partisan arguments.…

Nature’s Comeback

by Matthew John Milligan
Every year, while spring was busy prying away the season from winter’s grasp, my family would make the trek down to Deep Creek, Maryland, to visit my grandparents’ cottage. The drive from our Long Island home was just over seven hours, which, to a kid with very little concept of…

Sudden goodbye

In 1967, we arrived at our island cottage in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and of course, the first thing we kids did was explore our distantly familiar summer home. On that particular day, we found a bat inert on the dining room floor.

Is better good enough?

A standing-​room-​only audience has packed the Avalon Municipal Building on a rain-​soaked April evening to hear Allegheny County Health Department officials explain the latest consent decree to correct air quality violations at the coke works across the river. It’s a tough crowd.

What we say (and do) about the environment

Lori Rieger and Kim Haynes are strolling Point State Park on a July afternoon that is sunny, hot and humid enough to notice. It’s the kind of day that invites ozone pollution to accumulate at levels that violate federal air quality standards, which is something Pittsburgh and the region do…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

A sustainable aesthetic

What is sustainable, or green architecture, anyway, and what is it supposed to look like? The fact remains that the operation of buildings uses 40 percent of the earth’s energy resources, so construction aimed at reducing that consumption is both admirable and necessary. But do you know it when you…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Warning signs

On the first warm day of May, Jim Chestney cuts through thickets of black huckleberry and laurel and ponders his impending climb to a timber rattlesnake den on a central Pennsylvania mountain.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Greening the region

It was 1868 — when looking down from the Hill District to smokestacks belching fire and smoke, a riverbank littered with coal barges and railroads, and a bottomland saturated with muddy streets and gritty row houses pressed hard against the Allegheny River, Boston writer James Parton described Pittsburgh as “Hell with the…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

A world leader

Sitting in the bright, airy café at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Richard Piacentini stamps his foot on the floor. The tiles he thuds against are simple white squares. However, that hardly noticed floor has proven to be both bane and catalyst to a sea change in thinking about every…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Was Rachel Carson right?

Patricia DeMarco, Director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University, has heard the question before. Has history — and science — proven that Springdale, Pa., native Rachel Carson was right in her book, “Silent Spring”? Not just about the most celebrated of her attacks — the impact on the environment of the widely used herbicide…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Bring back the Paddlefish

A century ago, as work neared completion on the region’s locks and dams and Pittsburgh was producing half of the nation’s steel, paddlefish disappeared from the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Facing extinction

Wildlife biologists Greg Turner and DeeAnn Reeder slip into the sort of coveralls you would expect to see on an infectious disease ward and enter the cold, musty confines of an old Fayette County mine.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

High-​tech Sylvania

On a cool morning late in 2006, the phone rang in Esther Barazzone’s office, a suite overlooking Chatham University’s cozy Shadyside campus. Preoccupied by the re-​accreditation of the undergraduate women’s program and preparations for new graduate degrees, the president was unprepared for the question she heard on the line from Dan…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Our endangered river

It’s a crisp November morning, some 25 years ago. Bob Ging and Don Gales are hunting on a ridge in Lower Turkeyfoot, Somerset County, where green hemlocks mingle with bare winter hardwoods. “Boy, this is beautiful,” says Ging as sunrise reveals the emerald waters of Laurel Hill Creek in the…
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