William Langewiesche appears regularly in the Atlantic, and I think his work is just fantastic–right up there with John McPhee. Here is a collection of my favorites:
Eden: A Gated Community: After making a fortune as founder of North Face and Esprit, Douglas Tompkins embraced the principles of deep ecology. Then, forsaking civilization, he bought a Yosemite-sized piece of wilderness in Chile, where only he and a like-minded few would live. They intended to show the world how an eco-community could flourish even as the ancient forest was kept pristine. Tompkins ran into one big problem: other people.
Profits of Doom: One of the most polluted cities in America learns to capitalize on its contamination.
The Ship Breakers: At Alang, in India, on a six-mile stretch of oily, smoky beach, 40,000 men tear apart half of the world’s discarded ships, each one a sump of toxic waste. Environmentalists in the West are outraged. The shipbreakers, of course, want to be left alone — and maybe they should be.
Langewiesche has a book out that I am going to go buy when I get a chance to walk over to the book store: The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom of Chaos, and Crime.