Ecosystems

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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(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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Top 10 Worst Environmental Decisions in California’s History

Ranking the lost landscapes and environmental features

California has a paradoxical history with its environment. On one hand, the state boasts incredible natural beauty, along with a government that is an internationally recognized leader for strong environmental policies. But the state’s residents have also caused severe environmental destruction, particularly in the late nineteenth century — some of which helped spur the mobilization …

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Despite COVID-19, This Earth Day Brings Animals Closer to Human Society

Sheltering in place during the pandemic has had dramatic impacts on various wildlife, raising questions about our relationship with animals in urban spaces.

Two months into a global pandemic, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on human society. But outside of the monumental human suffering and disruption to our livelihoods, Earth continues to turn at the same rate, and the natural ecosystem continues to operate as it normally does. Except this time, the human influence on the natural environment is …

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Andy and Dave Shoot the Breeze

An inside look at the Trump Administration.

[Open with a shot of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt at his desk with his phone to his ear. Ring tone in the background.  Split screen after EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler picks up.] Bernhardt:  Hey Andy, how ya doin’?  How’s life in the Inferior Department? Wheeler:  Not so bad, Davey boy, not so bad. B:  You …

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Post-Madrid, China And California Have An Opportunity To Lead

As international climate action falters, the two climate leaders can fill the void

Note: this post is co-authored with Fan Dai, director of the University of California’s California-China Climate Institute. With the high-profile failure of last week’s UN climate conference in Madrid, the focus of international action on climate change will need to shift to political leaders of key global economies. We attended the conference in Madrid on …

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Can Soils Solve Climate Change?

Carbon-rich soil, in eastern Pennsylvania, from Flickr user soilscience

Another dubious claim of natural climate solutions makes the rounds

A few months ago, I questioned a claim that planting trees could solve climate change. According to some scientists, reforestation “is by far the cheapest solution that has ever been proposed,” and for $300 billion it could sequester 200 gigatons of carbon (GtC, or 733 GtCO2). Many media outlets swooned, but the assertions were weak …

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Green Growth That Works

New book explores natural capital policy and finance mechanisms from around the world

Since the Industrial Revolution, growth in human numbers and economic activity has dramatically transformed our planet. Rapid economic development has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and raised the standard of living and life expectancies of many more, but these forms of growth have also deeply eroded the natural capital embodied in …

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