Biodiversity & Species

Governing New Biotechnologies for Biodiversity Conservation

Cover of "Genetic frontiers for conservation" from the IUCN

The fourth in a series examines how international institutions have responded

The previous two posts in this series described how and why genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be introduced into wild populations, either “typically” modified ones that would transmit their altered genes ineffectively or those with “gene drives” whose changes would quickly propagate through the entire population. In both cases, their potential applications include helping conserve […]

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Genetically Modifying Wild Populations

Gene drive inheritance. Image from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

The third in a series examines powerful new gene drive tools

In my previous two posts, I introduced what I call first, second, and third generation genetically modified organisms: (1) GM bacteria for diverse, mostly indoor purposes; (2) GM crops and agricultural animals; and (3) GMOs that would be intentionally placed into natural environments, where they would live, reproduce, and transmit their modified genes to offspring. […]

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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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Could Genetically Modified Organisms Help Conserve Biodiversity?

Oxitec GM mosquitoes are released in the Cayman Islands. Photo by Taneos Ramsay of the Cayman Compass.

The second in a series examines GMOs intentionally released into the wild

Last week, I introduced what I call “first generation” genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – altered bacteria for diverse, mostly indoor purposes – and “second generation” ones – GM crops and agricultural animals. Here, I describe third generation GMOs, which are those that would be intentionally placed into natural environments, where they would live, reproduce, and […]

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Climate Change and Your Family’s Future

How much climate change will you see in your lifetime? How about your kids? 

If you think about yourself and the two generations after you, a lot depends on your current age, whether you already have kids, etc.  To keep this from getting too complicated, let’s focus on someone who was born in the US at the start of the millennium, in 2000.  To simplify, I won’t specify gender […]

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Genetically Modified Organisms Return to the International Policy Agenda

March Against Monsanto, Vancouver, May 25, 2013. Photo by Rosalee Yagihara, CC BY 2.0

This first in a series begins by looking back at GMOs and environmental law

Although the big news in international biodiversity this week was the release of the summary of the first global assessment from a relatively new UN-affiliated body, the topic of another report warrants attention as well. Yesterday the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published its findings on “the potential positive and negative impacts of synthetic […]

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Trump Administration’s Cold Water War With California Turns Hot

Feds’ Curious New Lawsuits Against State Water Board Likely Just the Opening Litigation Salvo

When it comes to California water policy, the federal-state relationship has always been both strained and challenging.  That intergovernmental tension harkens back at least to the Reclamation Act of 1902.  In section 8 of this iconic federal statute that transformed the American West, Congress declared that the federal government “shall proceed in conformity with” state […]

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Reviving LBJ’s Vision

Maybe What We Need is a Green Great Society

Talk about a Green New Deal is rife these days, but perhaps what we should be talking about instead is a Green Great Society. Actually, Lyndon Johnson’s vision of the great society was green from the get-go, so maybe we could just call for a renewed Great Society. What the Great Society is known for […]

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Public Lands Watch: Final Changes to Sage Grouse Protections

BLM announces final version of revisions to protections for sage grouse on Western federal public lands

This blog post was drafted by Jamie T. Martinez. On March 15, the Trump administration finalized its plan to loosen protections on federal lands for the habitat of the greater sage-grouse, a near-threatened species that lives in sagebrush country across the western United States. The final plan amends the resource plans adopted in 2015 to […]

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More on saving the monarch butterfly

Both federal and state action are needed, and it will take more than milkweed planting

Eric posted an excellent analysis last month of the desirability of protecting the monarch butterfly under California’s Endangered Species Act (CESA). I wanted to add a brief coda (as well as a couple of pictures) to his post, to emphasize the need for federal as well as state action, and to expand on the steps […]

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