BOBBY MAGILL

Journalist • Photographer

Bobby Magill is a senior science writer for Climate Central in New York and a journalist who has covered fracking and the environment in Colorado and New Mexico since 2001. 

Searching for airline-free skies: A plug for Morgan Maps

I've often found myself in discussions about the wildest places in the contiguous United States, places where silence and the unadulterated forces of nature pervade. It's a futile discussion, because wildness really is a matter of perspective considering that anthropogenic climate change necessarily means the hands and machines of humankind have affected every square inch of the earth one way or another. I think it's easy to argue that wildness can even be found even in the most urban of places, when you see wildlife appearing to flourish among the bustle of city life or a fox devouring a bird in a park across from my house. Some former enviro friends of mine defined the degrees of wildness by distance from the nearest road — a scale of remoteness of sorts. While I was living in New Mexico a decade ago, the Albuquerque Journal took on the challenge of finding the most remote spot in New Mexico, which turned out to be in the middle of the state's largest wilderness area, the original wilderness, the Gila.

I thought about all this when my partner, Jacob Morgan, began work on a GIS project for Backpacker Magazine a few months ago, which attempted to define wildness in the Lower 48 in part by distance not merely from a road, but from flight paths. Jacob developed a pretty awesome map of the country's commercial flight paths, and he has just published it on his new geography blog on his new website, www.morganmaps.com.

If you're interested in geography, you'd do yourself a big favor by subscribing or regularly checking out Jacob's blog. I've learned a few things from it in just the few days since he began blogging, and I'm confident you will, too.