Forests

In Defense of Live Carbon

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 …

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Wildfires: Managing the Risks

How can we limit the spread of wildfires and save people and property?

Wildfires are already a serious problem, and climate change will only make the problem worse, as I’ve discussed in my two prior posts. Reducing carbon emissions can help keep the problem from growing, but we need to deal with the risks we’re already facing. That is going to require a portfolio of risk management strategies.  We …

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The Steadily-Dying Sierra Nevadas

Drought, Bark Beetle Infestation, Climate Change Imperil Sierra Pine Forests

Like over 600 other environmental lawyers, professors, law students and regulators, I attended the 25th annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite last weekend.  As always, the Conference–sponsored by the California State Bar’s Environmental Law Section–was a big success, filled with inspirational speakers and thought-provoking panels. But the major topic of conversation–during the Conference proceedings, in …

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Conflicting Visions of the Future of the American West

The GOP favors the Old West of ranching, logging, mining, and oil. The Democrats have a different view.

The Democratic and Republican parties have very different ideas about the 640 million acres of land owned by the federal government, mostly in the West. It’s not just that the party platforms disagree about the balance between preservation and resource exploitation. It’s also that Democrats have a much different vision of the future of the American …

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Is There Really No More Room For Forests?

If you have even a passing interest in things environmental, and you keep yourself relatively well-informed, then no doubt you saw Justin Gillis’ superb page one NYT story on Saturday, about the decline (and at times possible increase) of forests; how forests provide critical carbon sinks to mitigate climate change; and how that climate change …

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Millenium Development Goals Report 2011

We’re a little late on this, but early last month the United Nations issued its 2011 Millenium Development Goals report, which really should be at the top of the environmental community’s focus.  Usually, the MDGs are thought of simply as concerning poverty and development, but of course these issues deeply concern the environment.  More directly, although not …

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India Coal Tax to be Used for Carbon Sinks and Clean Energy Technology

This is how you are supposed to do it.  Via the Hindu, Indian Finance Minister Mukherjee’s Budget uses carbon charges to combat climate change: The [tax] slapped on coal in last year’s budget will help pay for schemes to protect and regenerate forests and clean up polluted sites announced in this year’s Budget. Finance Minister Pranab …

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An Invitation to Review the Supreme Court’s Environmental Record

This has been a blockbuster year in the U.S. Supreme Court for environmental law and policy. In the Term that concludes this month, the justices have decided five major environmental cases, involving many of the nation’s most important environmental laws. Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE), one of the sponsors of …

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Conservation in a warming world

The latest issue of the journal Science includes another reminder that our current approach to conservation is ill-suited to a world where the climate is changing rapidly.  A study led by Phillip van Mentgem of the U.S. Geological Survey (323 Science 521 (Jan. 23, 2009), subscription required) finds that trees are dying more rapidly in …

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