Misunderstanding the Law of Causation

Trump’s NEPA proposal flunks Torts as well as Environmental Science 101.

Last week’s NEPA proposal bars agencies from considering many of the harms their actions will produce, such as climate change. These restrictions profoundly misunderstand the nature of environmental problems and are based on the flimsiest of legal foundations. Specifically, the proposal tells agencies they do not need to consider environmental “effects if they are remote …


De-Extinction Conference

Last month, I participated in a conference on the topic of de-extinction — efforts to resurrect all or part of the genome of extinct animals. The goal would be to have something very much akin to the wooly mammoth or the passenger pigeon, perhaps released into the wild. (And no, this isn’t going to work …


Putting a NEON Light on Ecosystems

New sensor technology and IT may transform our understanding of ecosystems.  Big Science is coming to ecology, which was once the domain of individual naturalists.  The Economist reports on NEON, the National Ecological Observatory Network: Ground has already been broken at three sites—in Colorado, Florida and Massachusetts. Eventually, 60 places across the country will be …


Climate Change Lesson #3: Everything is Connected to Everything Else

This is the third in a series of short homilies about the lessons of climate change. Barry Commoner called this the first law of ecology.  Because “everything is connected to everything else,” he said: the system is stabilized by its dynamic self- compensating properties; these same properties, if overstressed, can lead to a dramatic collapse; …