Biodiversity & Species

Engineering Biological Diversity

In a new paper, I introduce the international governance of synthetic biology, gene drives, and de-extinction for conservation.

In addition to climate change — the primary topic of my academic writing — biodiversity loss is the other major global environmental challenge. Like climate change, efforts over the last three decades keep failing to meet agreed-upon objectives. And like climate change, scientists and others are considering novel technologies that would intervene in natural systems …

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 “Whole of Government” Climate Policy

We need the help of far-flung parts of the federal government to deal with climate.

President Biden will have to rely on administrative action to do much or all of the heavy lifting in climate policy. It’s clear that EPA has a central role to play in climate policy, but EPA does not stand alone. Other agencies also have important roles to play. Fortunately, the Biden transition team seems to …

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Gene Drives, Biodiversity Conservation, International Law, and Emerging Politics

gene drive inheritance

My latest article is published by Global Environmental Politics

A set of new biotechnologies are being developed that will force many of us, especially those concerned about biodiversity loss, to re-examine how we understand the relationship between biotechnology and conservation. These are “gene drives,” which would be used to genetically modify, reduce, or eliminate populations of species. My paper “Governing New Biotechnologies for Biodiversity …

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Taking Technology Seriously in Global Environmental Politics

Global Environmental Politics cover

A special issue on new technologies is now available

I am proud to announce a special issue of Global Environmental Politics on new technologies, edited by Simon Nicholson of American University and me, is now available. We write in the introductory essay: Human beings are at once makers of and made by technology. The ability to wield tools was an essential ingredient in propelling an …

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The Whipsaw Effect

Get ready for a rough ride, with sudden weather reversals and climate shifts.

Steady predictable changes in climate and weather would be easier to adapt to.  Instead, we may well see some very sudden shifts, both in terms of short-term weather and longer-term climate regimes.

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Yes, It’s That Time of Year Again

If you read Legal Planet, you know why the work we do matters.

Like everyone else, I’m sure you find fundraising appeals annoying. That’s why we only do them twice a year.  But there couldn’t be a more important time for the work we do, given the urgency of the climate crisis and the ongoing policy disaster in D.C. Yes, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and …

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Deja Vu All Over Again

There’s a new GOP Platform, same as the old one.

It appears that the GOP won’t have a new platform this year. Instead, they’re going to stick with their 2016 platform. You could see that as steadfastness or a lack of new ideas. In the environmental arena, 2016 is still where the GOP is stuck today, celebrating fossil fuels and rejecting climate action. Here are …

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Surprise! Major Land Conservation Bill Poised to Pass Congress

Republican-Led Senate Prepared to Preserve Public Lands–and Political Careers?

Over the past decade, we’ve become resigned to the sad fact of congressional gridlock: a hopelessly partisan and paralyzed Congress, seemingly unable to pass major legislation on the environmental protection, natural resource conservation or, indeed, any number of other policy fronts. So it has to come as a  shock to most observers that this week …

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Trump’s Latest Deregulatory Ploy: Emergency Waivers

Shaky legal authority, poor analysis, dubious benefits. What else is new?

In an Executive Order issued last Thursday, Trump told agencies to use emergency waivers to avoid environmental safeguards. The order is legally shaky and unlikely to accomplish much.  Still, it provided a nice photo op. Maybe he should have signed it in front of a church. I’ll talk later about the specifics, but first I’d …

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(Still More) Bad News on the Doorstep

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 …

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