New Reports Document Accelerating Wildlife Extinctions, Global Deforestation Trends
While public attention in recent weeks and months has understandably focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice shockwaves triggered by George Floyd’s tragic death, another disaster continues apace. This week the New York Times published two alarming stories documenting the accelerating decline of our global environment. The first, entitled “Extinctions Are Accelerating, Threatening …CONTINUE READING
Why the fight against deforestation is more urgent than ever
Long before the wet markets of Wuhan became the focus of worldwide attention, scientists have pointed to tropical deforestation and habitat destruction as key factors facilitating the spread of zoonotic viruses such as Ebola and the Coronaviruses as well as other infectious and vector-borne diseases. The obvious lesson from this research is that protecting intact …CONTINUE READING
From California to Brazil, state and provinces around the world are stepping up to fight tropical deforestation. They need and deserve more support.
The fires burning in Brazil and the broader Amazon basin have shined a spotlight on the role of forests and land use in the climate change challenge. For the first time in many years, the fate of tropical forests and their connection to our common future have captured the public imagination around the world. There …CONTINUE READING
Why Stopping Deforestation May be the Hardest and Most Important Part of the Climate Change Challenge
When contemplating the enormous challenge of global climate change, it is sometimes helpful to think about a simple model of the global carbon budget (see figure below). These admittedly reductionist schematics distinguish between sources, sinks, and reservoirs. Fossil hydrocarbons from the geological reservoir–call this dead carbon—are extracted and burned to generate energy, emitting vast amounts …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
Post #6 in a Series on California Climate Policy by Ken Alex, Senior Policy Advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown
[This is the sixth post in a series expressing my view of why California’s actions on climate change are so important and how they will change the world. The introductory post provides an overview and some general context.] Roughly 80% of California land is protected or agricultural. That includes deserts, forests, wetlands, foothills, and multiple vegetative types, …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
Recent satellite studies indicate a major decrease in the rate of deforestation in the Amazon. The journal Science reports: The Brazilian government says that a preliminary survey by a low-resolution satellite shows that deforestation in the Amazon declined by 47.5% over the past 12 months. The figure is the largest decline since measurements began in …CONTINUE READING
On Friday, the day Waxman-Markey passed the U.S. House, another significant legal development took place — one that may also bear on climate change. President Lula of Brazil signed a bill providing legal title to squatters on Amazon land. Opponents argue that it will spark speculation in Amazonian property and increase deforestation.CONTINUE READING
An obvious question about the raging wildfire in Santa Barbara is whether climate change is the cause. While it’s impossible to blame any individual fire on increasing temperatures, we know that climate change is responsible for more frequent and more intense wildfires in the southwest. But less obvious and at least as troubling is that …CONTINUE READING