Biodiversity & Species

Going, Going, Gone

sixth extinction

Despite it’s depressing subject, Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction is a great read.  She travels around the world, from a “hotel” for endangered frogs in Panama to an outdoor biodiversity experiment in the Peruvian rainforest to an endangered rhino’s rectal exam in Cincinnati.  Yet, there’s no denying that the topic is a downer.  The title implies that we […]

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Protecting Marine “Wilderness”

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A new study shows how to strengthen marine preserves.

The Bush Administration is not remembered fondly by environmentalists, but one important exception came at the beginning of 2009.  That’s when President Bush created an additional 195,000 square miles of marine reserves, on top of the 140,000 miles he had created previously.  Such marine reserves are not unique to the United States, of course.  Yet, […]

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It’s Not Waste, It’s An Ecosystem

Letting rivers flow supports ecosystems and people

One thing that droughts in the West provoke are political battles over water.  The drought that California is currently in is no exception.  Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have just passed a bill that would – more or less – exempt farmers in the Central Valley from environmental laws like the Endangered Species […]

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Pine Beetles, Environmental Law, and Climate Change Adaptation

Inflexible laws may be the best response to climate change

Anyone who lives or has visited the Intermountain West over the past decade or so has noticed the devastating impact of a mountain pine beetle epidemic on the pine forests from Arizona and New Mexico all the way up to British Columbia and Alberta.  As a result of warmer winter weather because of climate change, […]

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Celebrating A Half Century of Federal Environmental Law!

50th

Later in this year, we will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the first modern environmental statutes, the Wilderness Act of 1964.  NEPA followed five years later and then in quick succession came the creation of EPA, a slew of laws regulating pollution and toxics, the Endangered Species Act, and reforms of public lands laws. It’s […]

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California Headed for Record Drought: Will Critically-Needed Reforms Follow?

Photo credit: Randall Benton, Sacramento Bee

Confronting a Looming Environmental Disaster

The Sacramento Bee’s fine environmental reporter, Matt Weiser, yesterday reported on a looming, major drought facing California and its regional neighbors. The figures aren’t pretty.  A persistent high-pressure front stretching over the Gulf of Alaska and most of the Northern Pacific has diverted the normal fall and winter storm track away from California and other […]

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Are Polar Bears Really Endangered?

Is the polar bear really endangered?
(Wikimedia Commons/Ansgar Walk)

"Glib contrarianism" in environmental journalism

The news web site Slate is known for its counterintuitive articles – so much so, that the term “slatepitch” has been coined.  But sometimes trying to write a counterintuitive article leads you to write something, well, just wrong. Today, Slate ran an article about “Five Species You Thought Were Endangered That Really Aren’t (Including the […]

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Executive Order calls for climate adaptation

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Presidential directive holds potential to move federal adaptation efforts forward, but implementation will be the key.

Cross-posted at The Berkeley Blog. Today, President Obama issued an Executive Order intended “to prepare the Nation for the impacts of climate change by undertaking actions to enhance climate preparedness and resilience.” In some respects, this order simply continues ongoing efforts. Under this administration, the executive branch has already been doing a great deal of […]

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Tackling Plastic Pollution in the Oceans

Plastic litter, Kure Atoll. Image courtesy of Claire Fackler, NOAA/NOAA Photo Library.

New Emmett Center report recommends top ten solutions for marine plastic debris

Ever wonder where the plastic crap that we generate winds up?  Much of it ends up in the oceans.  An estimated 20 million tons of plastic litter enter the ocean each year, much of it from land debris but also coming from fishing and aquaculture operations, shipping, and other marine sources.  The stuff takes a really […]

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