Environmental Science

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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A Time For Privacy: California Legislature Moves to Protect Academic Research

In an era defined in Washington by lies and the suppression of scientific research, California is positioning itself as a defender of facts and free inquiry.  Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D, Los Angeles) this week introduced Assembly Bill 700, a bill sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) to address the harm inflicted on public …

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Does the Fossil Fuel Industry Support Geoengineering?

Fuel to the Fire

A misleading new report from Center for International Environmental Law and the Heinrich Boell Foundation demeans the discourse

Geoengineering is controversial in the climate change community, and understandably so. Proposed interventions like negative emissions technologies (a.k.a. carbon dioxide removal) and solar geoengineering (a.k.a. solar radiation management or SRM) — which some writers group together as “geoengineering” — involve large-scale intervention in the climate system that could have adverse physical or social impacts. At …

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No Restrictive Language on Gene Drives

Convention on Biological Diversity

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity reject a moratorium-like decision

The recent news in international environmental negotiations has been dominated by this month’s  Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. (See UCLA’s Ted Parson setting the stage, the New York Times article, and Carbon Brief’s detailed report.) The recent COP of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) flew somewhat under the …

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Supreme Court Issues Narrow Decision in Dusky Gopher Frog Case, Leaving Key Questions About the Scope of Critical Habitat Unresolved for Now

Fifth Circuit Must Now Review Whether Designated Critical Habitat is “Habitat,” & Whether Agency’s Assessment of Costs and Benefits of Critical Habitat Designation Was Arbitrary

The U.S. Supreme Court filed its opinion in Weyerhaeuser v. U.S. Fish and WIldlife Service today. I’ve posted about this case previously here (when our clinic filed its brief on behalf of preeminent scientists) and here (on the day of the oral argument in the case). (Note that this blog post, like all my posts on this …

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Don’t Believe Everything That You Read

CNN solar geoengineering tweet

Solar geoengineering is often inaccurately portrayed in the media

If you had followed the climate change news over the weekend, you might have been shocked to see headlines such as “Scientists Prescribe a Healthy Dose of Sulphate Particles to Promote Global Cooling on the Cheap.” CNN tweeted that “Harvard and Yale scientists are proposing that we tackle climate change by dimming the sun.” And …

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