Digging Deep

Autism rates have reached epic proportions in recent years—and the numbers continue to climb. Yet the majority of autism research still focuses on genetics, not environmental toxins. In this—E‘s 20th anniversary issue—we take a closer look at the environmental triggers that may be ushering in this new era of autism—air and water pollution, chemicals in plastic, mercury in fish and dental fillings—and how desperate parents are finding great success with natural treatments. We look behind the organics label in this issue, too, and how questions surrounding Chinese-grown organics are eroding our trust in that label’s chemical-free promise.

These are the types of need-to-know environmental stories that E has covered over its past two decades in print. Few publications, in fact, have tracked the growth of the environmental movement and shifting global environmental concerns like E has. That’s why, beginning on this page, we’re taking you back through our archives, to some of the hot-button topics we covered a decade or more ago—global warming, consumerism, overfishing, environmental racism, renewable energy, water pollution—and discovering where we stand today. We are finding that while environmental threats have grown, so, too has awareness.

In some cases, we can thank the mainstream media for taking the environment seriously, and covering issues—like mountaintop removal mining and chemicals in our water supplies—that have received scant notice in the past. But watchdogs are hardly relegated to these outlets alone. There are sophisticated online networks of activists now, major initiatives promoting green jobs, worldwide demonstrations featuring the number “350” calling attention to the parts-per-million carbon dioxide we need the planet to return to for all of our health and safety, and a growing chorus of voices calling for stricter regulations, renewable energy options and cleaner, greener transportation

The tide has turned, in other words, though it remains to be seen whether we can ride this momentum to an effective reduction in greenhouse gas emissions before we’ve passed the point of no return. Without the support of our readers, advertisers, syndication outlets and our numerous, generous funders, E could not have weathered the changing media landscape that has left so many worthy publications behind. We know we’re lucky to still be here, 20 years later, with so much serious environmental coverage ahead. And we hope you”ll appreciate the changes E has undergone, with its first major redesign since its inception—including a new logo, an updated briefs section and a column devoted to “eco style.” Please visit us on Facebook, too, for weekly updates and commentaries. We know you’ve got a lot to share.