What is this?
An online source for original environmental reporting.
Newspapers are important, but this is not a newspaper. Axis Of Eco focuses solely on environmental and ecological issues, rather than the whole spectrum of social topics and trends. Music, architecture, and the like will be covered, but in their environmental context.
But, like a blog, Axis Of Eco has a stated and fiercely important mandate: to criticise those practices that are detrimental to our future, to promote the adoption of smarter alternatives, and to remind everyone why it matters.
But, like a newspaper, Axis Of Eco publishes original, accessible, and well-researched information. In other words: this is journalism. And journalism is in crisis: newspapers are folding, almost 90,000 print journalists lost their jobs in 2008 in the US alone, and science and environmental specialists – needed now more than ever – were among the first in the firing line.
As the esteemed writer Clay Shirky puts it: “Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.”
What’s the point?
To make a point: the need for ecological preservation is the only thing that everyone can agree on. We will never all agree on whether or not god exists, if capitalism is the ideal route to prosperity, or if democracy works. But we all know that we need clean air, safe drinking water and affordable food to live happily. And preventing the attendant wars, crimes and misery would be nice too.
Pursuing sustainable lifestyles means an increase in the quality of our lives, not the opposite. The solutions are sometimes difficult to implement, but pursuing them is also rewarding, exciting, and inspiring.
“Environmental” issues being labelled as the niche concerns of hippies, students and anxious middle class mommies is beyond antiquated: “environmental” issues are integral to economic prosperity, health and longevity, and human rights.
In fact, just using the word “environment” is antiquated. Everyone is a part of “the environment”, and everyone is an “environmentalist” – whether they know it or not.
What’s in a name?
The name axisofeco – a tongue-in-cheek reference to the “axis of evil” mantra of the Bush era – was chosen for many reasons.
It implies that we ought to approach ecological issues in the same way that we do the threats of war and terrorism.
It splits information into three digestible threads, just as Bush mantra labelled three nations as an axis. Triumvirates have always been an effective way to deliver powerful information.
And last, but certainly not least, because it contains the word “eco.”
Are you using the word “eco” because it is so painfully trendy?
No. Well, yes. The purpose is to give the word “ecology” back its original meaning.
Before the term “eco” became associated with greenwashed consumer junk jumping on the environmental bandwagon, the word carried a concrete meaning: the study of the interactions and interdependence between living things and their physical environment.
Though it has now been co-opted and robbed of its original weight, it is a legitimate term with roots in scientific research. It recognises that nothing we do occurs in a vacuum, and that everything – as hippy dippy as it sounds – is interconnected to a degree that we are only just beginning to appreciate. And everything we do has an unintended consequence, for good or ill.
What’s with splitting it three ways?
For clarity’s sake. We need immediate action, but we are awash in confusing and conflicting information. This site is intended to make easier the task of knowing what to do – and why it’s worth doing.
It doesn’t mean that the answers are always easy to figure out – or that we always know what the questions even are. Choosing between solutions can be enormously difficult, and even the best ones can create other problems. This is not naive absolutism: the world is not split into simplistic black and white dichotomies, nor is this website.
But the situation is dire enough to warrant impassioned advocacy.
News items will be split solely on the basis of ecological goals determined by science, logic, and enlightened self-interest: to preserve the world’s biodiversity, to abate climate change, to minimise our exposure to hazardous chemicals, and to safeguard our fresh water supplies.
Simple example: eating less meat is advocated, but not because it is “wrong” for one animal to eat another – that’s a matter of opinion. But razing rainforests, filling the sky with climate-warming cow burps, and polluting our rivers with waste to farm armies of livestock (while growing obese ourselves the whole time) is wasteful and hazardous – that’s a matter of fact.
This has nothing to do with idealism, spiritualism, and most certainly not sentimentalism – this is about pure logic. Call it eco-rationalism (if you like your isms).
Who’s behind this?
Zoe Cormier, a freelance science and environmental reporter originally from Toronto and now living in London, England. She holds the copyright to all words and photos, except for the odd picture (photo credits indicated).
She has been shortlisted for the Canadian National Magazine Awards twice, most recently for an investigative feature into climate change spin doctoring by Canadian manufacturing and oil interests (and previously for a cover story for Shameless on cosmetic vaginal surgery).
Between 2007 and 2009 she penned a regular column on environmental news and trends for The Globe and Mail. She has featured in more than a dozen publications including The Ecologist, Plenty (RIP), The Toronto Star, and is the resident alternative science blogger for the New Internationalist. She is also the wordsmith and photographer for science outreach organisation Guerilla Science.
Zoe holds an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto, received with high distinction in 2005, specialist in Zoology, minor in English Literature.
Here’s the kicker: she didn’t actually want to be an environmental reporter. She wanted to be a wildlife documentarian – in other words, the next David Attenborough (don’t we all). But once you learn as much as you can about how dire the situation is, and how much needs to be done to preserve the biodiversity we are so lucky to have around us, you realise there’s no point in working on anything else.