Or, how many megatons do we need to cut to prevent one extinction?
Economists often talk about the social cost of carbon, which basically translates the harm done by a ton of CO2 into dollars. The dollar metric is less useful as applied to ecological impacts like species extinctions than impacts of humans. It may be better to skip the dollar conversion, and just ask how much a …CONTINUE READING
Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book asks what it means to protect nature in the Anthropocene.
Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book, Under a White Sky, opens with the story of the battle to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The problem exists because of two earlier interventions with nature. A century ago, we reversed the flow of the Chicago river to keep the city’s pollutants out of Lake Michigan …CONTINUE READING
Get ready for a rough ride, with sudden weather reversals and climate shifts.
Steady predictable changes in climate and weather would be easier to adapt to. Instead, we may well see some very sudden shifts, both in terms of short-term weather and longer-term climate regimes.CONTINUE READING
It’s easy to put off long-term problems when there’s a crisis. Much too easy, actually.
Long-term problems get short shrift in a crisis. That’s true of infrastructure repair; it’s also true of climate change. Like deferred maintenance, climate change just gets bigger the longer it’s put off. I often see the fruits of deferred maintenance on the Berkeley campus. Building conditions are a huge problem at Berkeley. Whenever there’s a …CONTINUE READING
BLM announces final version of revisions to protections for sage grouse on Western federal public lands
This blog post was drafted by Jamie T. Martinez. On March 15, the Trump administration finalized its plan to loosen protections on federal lands for the habitat of the greater sage-grouse, a near-threatened species that lives in sagebrush country across the western United States. The final plan amends the resource plans adopted in 2015 to …CONTINUE READING
The plight of California’s iconic butterfly highlights the need to overhaul the state’s endangered species law
The Monarch butterfly is an iconic species for Californians. And it is heading rapidly towards extinction within the state, as the population counts for the California population this year indicate that butterfly numbers fell 86% in a single year, over a 99% drop since the 1980s, and the size of the population is now small …CONTINUE READING
An election next Sunday has implications for the entire planet.
I hate to give you something else to freak out about in our current Age of Anxiety, but there’s a very worrisome presidential election next Sunday. No, I haven’t completely lost it – the presidential race isn’t here, it’s in Brazil. The election pits a dangerous populist against a highly competent but colorless Establishment candidate. …CONTINUE READING
Law professors submit detailed comments on proposed changes to regulations that implement the Endangered Species Act
I’ve posted earlier about proposals by the Trump Administration to make significant changes to the regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act, some of the most substantial revisions to those regulations since they were overhauled in the early 1980s. A group of environmental law professors (including me) submitted comments on those proposed rules last month, with …CONTINUE READING
Breakthroughs in gene editing might open the door to improved environmental protections. Or maybe not.
CRISPR is a breakthrough gene editing method. (I can’t refrain from noting that a key role in the discovery was played Jennifer Doudna at Berkeley.) There are potential risks from gene editing to the environment, similar to other types of GMOs. But there may be environmental benefits too. Here are a few that have been …CONTINUE READING
Human impacts on global natural systems are large and diverse
Climate change is well known now as a major impact of humans on the planet. But climate change is only one of a wide range of ways in which humans are dramatically changing natural systems at the regional, continental and planetary levels. For instance, greenhouse gas emissions are the driver of anthropogenic climate change. But …CONTINUE READING