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
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 …CONTINUE READING
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
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
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
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