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Editor’s Note

While on deadline, our staff received some wonderful news. The American Society of Magazine Editors, for the second time in four years, has named Audubon a finalist for a national magazine award in the general excellence category. This is the industry’s equivalent of an Oscar for best picture and puts us in esteemed company with such fellow finalists as New York, Texas Monthly, and The Atlantic.

We strive to maintain the same high standards in this special global warming issue, starting with “Smoke Signals,” our dispatch from ground zero, 160 miles north of the Arctic Circle. “Rising temperatures are already melting the Arctic’s permafrost, and an all-out failure of the frozen foundation would not only irrevocably change this fragile landscape but also speed up warming across the earth,” reports senior editor Alisa Opar. Still, if you think wind and other kinds of renewable energy are a silver bullet, read Michelle Nijhuis’s “Balance of Power” “In Wyoming the roads, construction activity, network of pipelines and transmission lines, and noise that accompany energy development are thought to threaten the greater sage-grouse along with scores of other species that depend on sagebrush habitat.” Fortunately, an innovative wind power plan hatched by public officials and conservationists may safeguard sensitive areas in Wyoming and other states and confine energy development mostly to places that are already developed. Unfortunately, this collaborative approach is not the guiding principle in Pennsylvania, where, as Ted Williams reports in “Gas Pains” largely unregulated natural gas drilling is ravaging the landscape.

However hopeless this all may seem, “Have Faith”—that’s the headline of a story by Kiera Butler on a growing movement of young evangelicals who espouse the “idea that the earth is a gift from God, and that Christians are called to protect it.” Meanwhile, reporting from the mountains outside of Albuquerque, senior editor Susan Cosier profiles two college students in the seventh year of a bird-banding project to learn about rosy-finches, among North America’s least studied species (“Band of Brothers”). Their work could shed light on how alpine species are particularly affected by a hotter climate. Pikas and other species disproportionately feeling the heat are highlighted in our Photo Gallery.

Postscript: In January, Ken Gehle, our photographer for both “Guardian Angels” and “Have Faith” lost a battle with cancer. “I know he was particularly excited about our evangelical story,” says photo editor Kim Hubbard. “He took his 16-year-old daughter along as his assistant, and it turned out to be his very last assignment. Even after he was admitted to the hospital a couple of weeks after the shoot, he was offering to send images to me as soon as he could. He was a great guy as well as a great photographer.” We all extend our sincere condolences to Ken’s family.

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