Biodiversity & Species

What Threatens Biodiversity?

Silverback mountain gorilla in Rwanda (2007)

Are we too worried about climate change to focus on the other problems we know about?

Yesterday, Nature published a noteworthy comment on the biodiversity crisis, written by researchers at the University of Queensland and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The piece is based on a study of 8,688 species that are classified on the IUCN’s Red List either as threatened (vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered) or near-threatened. The main […]

Continue Reading

Conflicting Visions of the Future of the American West

map of west

The GOP favors the Old West of ranching, logging, mining, and oil. The Democrats have a different view.

The Democratic and Republican parties have very different ideas about the 640 million acres of land owned by the federal government, mostly in the West. It’s not just that the party platforms disagree about the balance between preservation and resource exploitation. It’s also that Democrats have a much different vision of the future of the American […]

Continue Reading

Oak woodlands and wine

A recent controversy highlights the impacts of wine industry on native California oak woodlands

A popular San Luis Obispo county winemarker is suffering a backlash in restaurants after press reports that the winemaker bulldozed oak woodlands to expand production—possibly in violation of a county land grading ordinance. The dispute (as this Wine Enthusiast piece makes clear) is not a novel one.  There is a long history of winemakers in […]

Continue Reading

Let Us Now Praise Famous Plants

Lace Lichen

Taking environmental law education outdoors

Lawyers spend their lives among tree slices (using 20,000-100,00 sheets of paper per attorney annually), but distressingly little time among whole trees. This became evident when I hauled a class of bemused clinical environmental law students up a wooded slope near the UC Berkeley campus this spring for a lesson spanning ecology, agency jurisdiction, and […]

Continue Reading

Finding Least-Conflict Lands For Solar PV In California’s San Joaquin Valley — And Beyond

A PATH FORWARD May 2016 COVER

New CLEE report identifies 470,000 acres of ideal land for solar PV, with 4pm webex briefing with state officials

To achieve California and the post-Paris world’s climate goals, we’re going to need a whole lot more renewable energy. Given current market trends, much of it will come from solar photovoltaic (PV), which has gotten incredibly cheap in the last few years. But deploying these solar panels at utility scale will mean major changes to […]

Continue Reading

The Case for Farmed Fish

fish-farms

Aquaculture could help save wild fisheries from devastation.

It’s time to take a second look at fish farms. Environmentalists, not to mention foodies, tend to turn up their noses at fish farms.  It’s true that badly managed fish farms can be a source of water pollution and other environmental problems.  But sustainable fish farming would have major environmental benefits. To begin with, fish […]

Continue Reading

The “Northern” Bias in Biodiversity Protection

Tropical rainforest2

We focus heavily on U.S. endangered species. But the real action is elsewhere.

American environmentalists are deeply invested in protecting endangered species in the U.S.  That’s natural, and U.S biodiversity is worthy of protection. But focusing on the U.S. gives a misguided sense of the relative importance of U.S. biodiversity. But in the grand scheme of things, biodiversity in the global South is far, far more important. A […]

Continue Reading

Legacy Goods and Environment Preservation

the future

The value of some goods like wilderness today depends on their futures.

Normally, economists imagine, equal experiences become less valuable as they recede further into the future.  But some types of goods don’t have that kind of relationship with future experiences.  They can become more valuable as they extend farther into to the future. Take this blog post, for example.  I’m really happy that you’re reading it […]

Continue Reading

That Takes the Prize!

national science medal

National Science & Technology Medals for Renewable Energy Research

The White House announced the names of the scientists and engineers who will be receiving National Medals next year.  I was very pleased to see that one of the winners of the National Medal of Science is Paul Alivisatos from Berkeley. Dr. Alivisatos is a chemistry professor who is also Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory […]

Continue Reading

TPP or not TPP? Understanding the Environmental Debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

Leaders_of_TPP_member_states

The Obama administration recently notified Congress of its intent to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) and released the text to the public. The TPP has proven extraordinarily contentious, splintering political party lines, with likely more Republicans supporting the agreement than Democrats, and dividing environmental groups, as well, with the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and NRDC opposed […]

Continue Reading