Articles By: Mitch Tobin

Mitch Tobin, the editor of ecowest.org, is communications director at California Environmental Associates. Prior to joining CEA, Mitch was a newspaper reporter at the Napa Valley Register, Tucson Citizen, and Arizona Daily Star, where he covered water, environmental, and border issues for five years. He was also a contributor to High Country News. Mitch's first book, Endangered (Fulcrum 2010), evaluates the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act and received a gold medal in the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

14 compelling graphics from new National Climate Assessment

14 compelling graphics from new National Climate Assessment

The federal government’s new National Climate Assessment paints a grim portrait of climate change’s impacts on the United States. The 841-page report is full of graphics explaining how the rise of greenhouse gas emissions is already transforming the American West and the rest of the country. I’ve extracted the 14 images that I found most […]

Sightsmap plots most photographed places on planet

Sightsmap plots most photographed places on planet

Governments around the world protect places for a variety of reasons. There are landscapes set aside for critters and memorials to fallen warriors. In the United States and elsewhere, one of the biggest motivations for creating national parks and other preserves is that they’re pretty to look at and photograph. Beauty may be in the […]

Deep brain freeze: visualizing the polar vortex

Deep brain freeze: visualizing the polar vortex

For the second afternoon in a row, a potent cold front has swept across Denver, marking the return of a deep freeze for much of the country. Yesterday, my weather station recorded a 32-degree drop in less than 90 minutes (here’s a chart). This latest cold snap is sure to revive talk about the polar […]

Snow jobs: America’s $12 billion winter sports economy and climate change

Snow jobs: America’s $12 billion winter sports economy and climate change

Full disclosure: I love to ski and snowboard, so before reading further, you should know that I’m more of a passionate participant than neutral analyst of America’s snow sports industry. But whether you’re a ski bum, X Games aspirant, or disinterested flatlander, it’s undeniable that a ton of money is changing hands when it comes […]

2013 wildfire season way below average

2013 wildfire season way below average

Wildfires were thrust into the national spotlight twice this year, first when 19 firefighters died in Arizona on June 30, and again in August, when the 257,314-acre Rim Fire burned in and around Yosemite National Park. But if you look at the federal government’s statistics, 2013 is on track to be one of the quietest […]

Trulia’s mapping tool goes far beyond real estate

Trulia’s mapping tool goes far beyond real estate

You may quibble with how Trulia values your home, but the real estate website provides an impressive interactive map with detailed views of social and environmental variables. In addition to offering a treasure trove of information on real estate down to the parcel level, Trulia’s mapping engine also visualizes high-resolution data on things like commute […]

Our SXSW Eco presentation and the PowerPoint paradox

Our SXSW Eco presentation and the PowerPoint paradox

I was in Austin last week, speaking at the annual SXSW Eco conference, so I wanted to share my presentation and a lesson or two I learned about PowerPoint. The presenter’s job is becoming even more difficult in a harried era of micro attention spans. With audience members carrying multiple Internet-enabled devices at all times, […]

Drop on the planet: 3 visualizations of Earth’s most precious natural resource

Drop on the planet: 3 visualizations of Earth’s most precious natural resource

Scarcity of freshwater is a defining feature of the American West, and planet Earth. Nearly 97% of the world’s H2O is in the oceans. More than two-thirds of the globe’s freshwater is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. Below are a trio of graphics to visualize water on Earth. I’ve found these slides useful […]

Up in smoke: federal wildfire suppression costs are rising

Up in smoke: federal wildfire suppression costs are rising

Federal spending to fight wildfires is trending higher. Not only is the overall, inflation-adjusted cost increasing, but the federal cost per wildfire and per acre burned are also on the upswing. Before the federal shutdown turned government websites into virtual ghost towns, I was snooping around the National Interagency Fire Center’s site, and I came […]

Video: mountain species, climate change, and the escalator effect

Video: mountain species, climate change, and the escalator effect

Mountains are especially vulnerable to climate change, so scientists are keeping a close watch on species such as the American pika (Ochotona princeps). This small mammal, which resembles a hamster and is a relative of the rabbit, lives in alpine and subalpine terrain across Western North America. Although relatively widespread and usually found in protected […]

Climate context for Colorado floods: heavy precipitation, wildfires are on the rise

Climate context for Colorado floods: heavy precipitation, wildfires are on the rise

The heavy rains and flooding here in Colorado have been off the charts, even prompting the National Weather Service to describe the precipitation as “biblical” in its proportions. At Discover Magazine, Tom Yulsman reports that areas with the highest rainfall totals have experienced a 1,000-year event–a storm that’s expected to occur once a millennium. Check […]

The black and blue marble: 10 whole Earth views from space

The black and blue marble: 10 whole Earth views from space

It’s been called one of the most famous and widely distributed images in human history. The “blue marble,” a 1972 color photograph of the Earth from the Apollo 17 spacecraft, has also been credited with expanding environmental awareness around the globe and highlighting the vulnerability of our home planet. In the four decades since the […]