biodiversity

The Case for Farmed Fish

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 …

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The “Northern” Bias in Biodiversity Protection

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 …

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Attack of the Killer Blob

A weird patch of warm weather is killing sea lions and poisoning crabs.

There’s a weird area of warm water, which has come to be known as the Blob, sitting offshore of the West Coast.  That doesn’t sound too significant, except perhaps in terms of making things more pleasant for swimmers.  But actually, it’s causing a whole cascade of impacts on wildlife and humans. As the Chronicle explains: “The …

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The Brazilian Deforestation Puzzle

Deforestation went down for a decade. Now it’s going up. The reasons aren’t clear.

Brazil’s rate of deforestation went down dramatically over the last ten years. It’s not completely clear why that’s happened. The trend now seems to be reversing (or at least encountering an upward blip). But it’s not clear why that’s happening either. I wish I had a clear explanation to give you. A big part of …

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The Wilderness Act and climate change

Changing the Wilderness Act to respond to climate change is a terrible idea

The Wilderness Act is one of the iconic pieces of environmental legislation, and it is 50 years old this year. It created a process and management standard by which millions of acres of relatively undeveloped federal land were protected from development and most forms of active human management. These lands are to be managed, as …

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Going, Going, Gone

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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Are Polar Bears Really Endangered?

“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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Logging, tropical forests, and biodiversity — what we don’t know

Cross-posted at The Berkeley Blog. A new paper in Conservation Biology (subscription required) from researchers at UC Berkeley and elsewhere provides an important reminder that we often don’t know as much as we think we do about ecological systems and the effects of human actions on those systems. Lead author Benjamin Ramage and colleagues evaluated …

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Should we revive an extinct Galapagos tortoise?

Cross-posted at CPRBlog. The Washington Post reports today that scientists think they can resurrect the Pinta Island subspecies of Galapagos tortoise whose last remaining member, “Lonesome George” (pictured), died this summer. Scientists at Ecuador’s Galapagos National Park say they have found enough Pinta Island genetic material in tortoise on another nearby island that an intensive …

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Lawyerly Greenwashing from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative

A few weeks ago, I argued that only wood and paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council really should be called a sustainable product.  Much to my surprise, the post got a robo-comment from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the paper industry’s group, claiming that it, too, was a legitimate certification organization.  Given SFI’s pretty shameful …

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