People have always been good at imagining the end of the world, which is much easier to picture than the strange sidelong paths of change in a world without end.
—REBECCA SOLNIT, FROM HOPE IN THE DARK: UNTOLD HISTORIES, WILD POSSIBILITIES
JOURNEY BACK WITH ME TO 1989, TO THE SOUTHERN HIGHlands of Papua New Guinea. I’m 19 years old. I’m bird watching and bumming around this magnificent land, working as a trekking guide among the country’s indigenous people. A road called the Highlands Highway, which had been built just a year before, snakes through forest, where clouds of butterflies explode from fragrant bushes and stunning birds of paradise display each evening as the dirt strip winds down into Tari. I’ve spent the past three ...