Environmental Science

Helping Repair Our Broken Governance System

Our institutions have been battered. How will we be able to fix them?

Much of Trump’s damage to the environment is obvious: his efforts to increase gas and oil production, his regulatory rollbacks, and his efforts to gut the agencies charged with protecting the environment. But he has also done deeper damage to the institutions we need to address climate change and other daunting environmental challenges. These problems […]

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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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The Governance of Solar Geoengineering: Managing Climate Change in the Anthropocene

The Governance of Solar Geoengineering: Managing Climate Change in the Anthropocene

My book is now available!

I interrupt my ongoing blog series on new biotechnologies and their governance (1, 2, 3) to announce that my book The Governance of Solar Geoengineering Managing: Climate Change in the Anthropocene is available today from Cambridge University Press. The brief description is: Climate change is among the world’s most important problems, and solutions based on […]

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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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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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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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What Else Should Congress Investigate?

Understandably, a lot of attention is focused on the White House. But other issues cry out for investigation.

Every day, it seems that there is a headline about some investigatiion  involving tcampaign finance violations, the White House, or the actions of some foreign power. Perhaps that’s all the bandwidth that Congress has. But there are other areas calling out for inquiry.  Here are just a few: CAFE Standards.  The car industry asked for […]

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California Adopts New, Welcome Wetlands Protection Rules

State Fills Void Left By Trump Administration’s Weakening of Federal Wetlands Standards

This week California’s State Water Resources Control Board adopted important new rules to protect the state’s remaining wetlands resources.  Enacted after over a decade of Board hearings, workshops and deliberation, those rules are overdue, welcome and critically necessary.  Their adoption is particularly timely now, given the Trump Administration’s wholesale assault on and erosion of federal […]

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Governing Geoengineering at the United Nations? No, at Least Not Now

UN Environment Assembly

A proposed resolution falters at the UN Environment Assembly

At this week’s UN Environment Assembly, countries’ representatives debated a draft resolution regarding climate geoengineering. Unable to come to agreement, it was withdrawn Wednesday. This is not surprising to me, as — for the most part — leaders presently lack political incentives to take action. I am also not particularly disappointed, because a counter-productive resolution seemed fairly […]

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