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National Geographic Magazine, December 2012


A tree-climbing scientist takes the pulse of a 3,200-year-old sequoia, the second-largest tree known on Earth; tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip and Egypt are explored; methane bubbles are given a closer look…are they the fuel of the future or a climate bomb?; spiritual healers are growing in number and renewing old traditions in Siberia, Central Asia and Mongolia; archaeologists dive into the ancient lost world of Doggerland; and all 39 species of birds of paradise are showcased.

Look for the December issue on digital newsstands (iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire and Nook) Nov. 16 and print newsstands Nov. 27.

Exclusive content for digital edition includes:

• Sequoia Photo Shoot video — Go behind the scenes of the photo shoot that took scientists and photographers to Sequoia National Park to study the tree known as the President.
• Tunnels of Gaza map — See a satellite image of the divided city of Rafah showing the corridor where tents mark entrances to some of the hundreds of smuggling tunnels.
• Fire on the Ice video — See scientists at work fracking for methane and arctic ice appearing to catch fire.
• Shaman Initiation Ceremony video — Witness a shamanic initiation ceremony in Mongolia.
• Photographing Birds of Paradise video — See how photographer Tim Laman captured a stunning treetop shot of a bird of paradise.
• Birds of Paradise Courtship videos — See seven videos of various birds of paradise species adorned with exotic accessories, ruffling their feathers, calling out and performing for females.

Giant of the Forest, by David Quammen, photographs by Michael Nichols (Page 28). Giant sequoias, found only on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, can grow taller than a 20-story building. New studies have yielded surprising information that explains how these trees can become such titans. Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols spent more than two weeks in the field photographing the President, the world’s second-largest known tree; it is 247 feet high and at least 3,200 years old. A photo mosaic of 126 of Nichols’s images is presented in a foldout poster. Quammen is available for interviews.

Gaza’s Tunnels, by James Verini, photographs by Paolo Pellegrin (Page 42). The heart of Palestinian resistance, Gaza is the launching area for attacks on Israel and the primary target of Israeli strikes on militants. Due to Israel’s land, air and sea blockade of Gaza, two-thirds of goods entering the Gaza Strip are smuggled from Egypt through a vast network of tunnels. For the 1.6 million Palestinians living in Gaza, this supply network is the lifeline for goods such as wheat and cooking oil as well as items like cars — and even a lion for the Gaza Zoo. Verini and Pellegrin descended six stories into the tunnels to interview the people who risk their lives to keep the flow of goods moving, pursuing economic opportunity and upward mobility in this tumultuous region. Verini and Pellegrin are available for interviews.

Paradise Found, by Mel White, photographs by Tim Laman (Page 70). Nine years ago, Cornell ornithologist Edwin Scholes and biologist and photographer Tim Laman began a quest to be the first to find and document all 39 species of the legendary birds of paradise. After 18 expeditions and 39,000 photographs, their vision is complete, and images of all 39 species are included in the article. Thanks to a remote habitat, abundant food and few predators, the birds have evolved with great diversity. The males’ exotic plumes, dazzling dances and remarkable colorations serve one purpose: to attract as many females as possible. White and Laman are available for interviews.

Good Gas, Bad Gas, by Marianne Lavelle, photographs by Mark Thiessen (Page 90). So much methane fizzes from Sherry Vargson’s kitchen tap that she can light it like a stove. Since 2008 she has leased her Pennsylvania land to a gas company for drilling, but, like some other landowners who have done the same, has had second thoughts. Testing in 2010 showed Vargson’s water contained more than twice the methane that’s considered an explosion threat. The natural gas boom has created thousands of jobs and paid millions of dollars to landowners. Although natural gas is cleaner than coal, its use has tradeoffs. Marianne Lavelle explores this issue, from the fracking process used to harvest gases to the impact that increased methane emissions may have on global warming. Lavelle and Thiessen are available for interviews.

Shamanist Revival, by David Stern, photographs by Carolyn Drake (Page 110). Called by spirits to heal bodies, minds and souls, shamans inhabit many roles: doctors, priests, mystics, psychologists, oracles and poets, and their numbers are growing. Minority groups throughout Central Asia are embracing traditional religious practices to reinvigorate their culture — even forming shamanic organizations to advocate for their interests. Carolyn Drake’s photos capture the shamans at work, from helping someone secure government documents to sacrificing a sheep to initiate novices. Stern and Drake are available for interviews.

North Sea Secrets, by Laura Spinney, photographs by Robert Clark (Page 132). Toward the end of the Mesolithic age in northern Europe some 8,000 years ago, a warming climate and rising sea levels forced the hunter-gatherer societies of Doggerland (lowlands situated between modern-day Britain and Denmark) to abandon their settlements and move to higher ground. Now completely submerged beneath the North Sea, Doggerland is an interesting case study for archaeologists interested in how pre-modern man dealt with a changing climate. Spinney and Clark are available for interviews.

National Geographic magazine is the official journal of the National Geographic Society, one of the world’s largest nonprofit education and scientific organizations. Published in English and 36 local-language editions, the magazine has a global circulation of around 8 million. It is sent out each month to National Geographic members and is available on newsstands for $5.99 a copy. Single copies can be ordered by calling (800) NGS-LINE, also the number to call for membership to the Society.


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