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While it may sound nice to live in a world with fewer roaches, environmental writer Oliver Milman says that human beings would be in big trouble without insects. That's because insects play critical roles in pollinating plants we eat, breaking down waste in forest soil and forming the base of a food chain that other, larger animals — including humans — rely upon.
SUZANNE SIMARD says trees are "social creatures" that communicate with each other in cooperative ways that hold lessons for humans too. Simard grew up in Canadian forests as a descendant of loggers before becoming a forestry ecologist. She's now a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia. She explains her research on cooperation and symbiosis in the forest, and shares her personal story in the new memoir Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest.
An Alabama native, Flowers has been awarded a MacArthur fellowship for her work on behalf of rural Americans living without proper sewage treatment. She says the hookworm study was a "smoking gun," that highlighted the sanitation and environmental problems the rural poor face.
Climate change has put organisms on the move. In her new book, The Next Great Migration, Science writer Sonia Shah writes about migration — and the ways in which outmoded notions of "belonging" have been used throughout history to curb what she sees as a biological imperative.