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Editor’s Letter: Our well-being is elemental

If the past year made us aware of anything, it’s that well-being is a collective experience – and that science matters. After all, the lives of everyone in the world were upended by a microscopic organism never before known in the human population. And it’s thanks to the astonishing speed of vaccine development that life as we knew it is returning to some semblance of normal. We hope.

The public health and economic catastrophe of the pandemic may be slowly receding, but there’s something else that continues now and forever to impact our health, happiness and prosperity. It’s something elemental to our existence – the environment.

And that’s what this issue of our premium magazine for subscribers is all about.

From the mountains to the ocean and the desert in between, Southern Californians have an intimate relationship with Nature’s elements. Much attention goes to the crises happening as a result of the complex problems of climate change – more frequent and intense wildfires, drought, storms, rising sea levels and warming oceans – as well as ongoing issues such as habitat loss of our native flora and fauna. And earthquakes – let’s not forget earthquakes.

But crises aren’t the only stories to tell.

Let me back up a moment. There was once a beloved teacher of mine who also happened to be a Zen Buddhist priest. His name was Bill, and he’d grown up in the Appalachian region of Virginia. (Maybe not what you were expecting when I said Zen Buddhist priest.) Anyway, when I would get into a doom-and-gloom headspace, Bill would always quote me the following lines from the Heart Sutra:

“Light and darkness are a pair,like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.”

It was his way of saying that as bad as things are, there is always also a powerful good.

Bill’s words inspired our approach to this magazine. Using the four classic elements of fire, water, earth and air, these pages explore the fascinating research, innovations and activism bent on finding solutions to the challenges facing our local environment. We offer thoughtful essays, digestible research news and profiles of local leaders who are innovating to solve the problems facing us today. Along the way, you might find a new idea or two for ways that you can engage in the elements and a few fresh avenues to help support our local ecosystems.

A roster of award-winning authors and our own talented photographers and graphic artists helped make this magazine possible. And we were aided in no small way by members and emeriti of The Loh Down on Science Hive from the graduate division at UC Irvine. The Hive is a unique fellowship program that supports young scientists from a variety of specialties who have a passion for science communication. Formed by producer Sandra Tsing Loh, The Hive normally works on radio segments heard on NPR stations across the nation, but they turned their talents to the written word for this magazine – with great success, I think.

Please drop me a line and let me know your thoughts about Elements. After all, we’re all in this together.

Samantha DunnSenior editor, premium content and engagementsdunn@scng.com


Source: Orange County Register

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