ENVIRONMENT

Contemplating the Death of Mice

I sit in my living room on a quiet winter morning dimmed by an opaque, gray sky. I hear crunching, first thinking a squirrel is playing on my roof, or winter snow and ice is starting to slide. The intermittent sound is persistent and peculiar. I walk toward it. It…

Making Maple Syrup

What is this? — syrup, maple syrup in a quart jar, syrup my grandfather made twenty-​five years ago for the last time.

The McKeesport Kid

I had always been fascinated by birds but never thought about owning pigeons until Fred Zoerb and I began palling around together. We were neighborhood teenagers in McKeesport when one of Fred’s uncles, who raised homing pigeons, gave him a pair.

Air Quality Regulation: A Primer

Air quality in the United States is governed by a complex regulatory structure that sets pollution limits and authorizes federal, state and local agencies to enforce them. The regulations which agencies enforce vary with the source of pollution, what they emit and the air quality in the region where they…

Mobile Source Pollution

Creeping into the Fort Pitt Tunnel, angling for space at the Parkway East’s Grant Street exit, or elbowing into a gap in traffic on the Veterans Bridge, tens of thousands of people drive or ride into and out of Downtown nearly every day.

Air Rules

Bluer skies over southwestern Pennsylvania owe a debt to local, state and federal regulations that have evolved over decades to spur technological advancements and investment in controlling air pollutants from industrial plants to the cars we drive.

Up in the Air: The Final Chapter

Air polllution’s place in the history of southwestern Pennsylvania is as prominent as the region’s mighty rivers and the steel industry that once crowded their banks. For nearly a century, it was a defining characteristic in the eyes of visitors, who pulled no punches when describing the grim conditions they…

A Mountain in the Winter

People often hike through landscapes without having a real sense of the place. In the Laurel Highlands, there is an opportunity to get a “sense of place” before or after your trek, by taking advantage of a sweeping bird’s-eye view of the east flank of Laurel Hill and the Laurel…

The Cedar Waxwing

Pittsburgh has produced some renowned birders and ornithologists. Our hills and rivers attract a wide variety of birds, and they, in turn, inspire generation after generation to look to the skies — from John James Audubon, who painted the long-​extinct Passenger Pigeon while passing through the Gateway to the West (an old…

Winter Patterns

“Where, twisted round the barren oak, The summer vine in beauty clung, And summer winds the stillness broke, The crystal icicle is hung.” —From “Woods in Winter,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Pittsburgh Quarterly Readers’ Top Garden Photos

We asked our readers and the Pittsburgh community to submit photos of their gorgeous gardens and unique backyards. The results are in! Below is a selection of our favorites.

Hornets’ Nest

Anyone looking at the back of my house would see it — the lamp just outside my back door stuffed with hornet accretions, the nest shaped like a rugby ball but twice the size.

Garden Warfare

Having a vegetable garden sounds like a gentle, relaxing and easy hobby. Dig a few holes in the dirt, put a few plants in, water, and before you know it — bushels and bushels of pest-​free, perfectly ripened vegetables in the summer.

Give a Little Whistle

It’s not until chapter 10 of Harper Lee’s famous novel that we are told of the magic of mockingbirds. Atticus Finch, lawyer and father extraordinaire, says, “Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Benevolent Miss Maudie explains,…

Cokeless Steel?

Power companies aren’t alone in their shift away from coal. Steelmakers, industry groups and the federal government are spending millions looking for a way to make steel without coke, the carbon-​rich form of coal used to fuel blast furnaces. Like coal-​fired power generation, coke production is a major source of…
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