biodiversity

Deferred Planetary Maintenance

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 …

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Public Lands Watch: Final Changes to Sage Grouse Protections

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 …

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Save the Monarch!

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 …

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Another Scary Election (But Not Here)

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. …

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Comments on proposed ESA rule changes

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 …

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CRISPR Approaches to Environmental Problems

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 …

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The science of the Anthropocene

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 …

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Where the Wild Things Are

For endangered species, don’t think Alaska or Montana. Think Hawaii and California. And Alabama.

When we think about preserving nature in the United States, we tend to think of the country’s great wilderness areas in places like Alaska and the Rockies. We don’t think about Alabama or Puerto Rico, for instance. But in terms of biodiversity protection, this is almost the opposite of the truth. By and large, the …

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What Threatens Biodiversity?

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 …

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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 …

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