Environmental Science

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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Trump’s Biggest Anti-Environmental Fail

He did his best to destroy EPA completely. But his devastating budget proposals got nowhere.

Trump was awful for the environment. But he wanted to be even worse. If Trump had had his way, only shreds of key environmental agencies would now be left. Although Trump has certainly succeeded in weakening them, the cores of the agencies remain intact.  Without them, Biden’s task would be much harder. Trump’s budgets unvaryingly …

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The IPCC Misses the Mark on Solar Geoengineering

Cover of IPCC's special report on 1.5°C warming

The Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change poorly portrays the “institutional and social constraints to deployment related to governance”

Not long ago, I re-read the top-level messages from the Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change (IPCC) on solar geoengineering’s governance issues. The Summary for Policymakers of most recent broad report, Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR1.5), says, in full: Solar radiation modification (SRM) [i.e. solar geoengineering] measures are not included in any of the available assessed pathways. …

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40 Legal Scholars Urge EPA to Withdraw Proposed Ozone NAAQS

EPA’s newest ozone rulemaking has failed to meet even the deferential standard of arbitrary and capricious review.

This blog is co-authored with Sean Hecht. On October 1, 2020, on behalf of 40 environmental and administrative law scholars affiliated with 33 universities in 18 states, Sean Hecht and I filed a comment letter urging EPA to withdraw its decision to keep the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone at the current …

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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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Enforcing NEPA’s Forgotten Mandate

The courts have failed to enforce a core requirement of NEPA. That leaves the White House.

The Democrats have adopted an ambitious platform for environmental protection, full of innovative legislative initiatives.  Here’s another idea Biden and Harris should consider, making use of the oldest of the modern environmental statutes. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is best known for requiring environmental impact statements. While they have enforced that requirement, the courts …

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UCLA Law Faculty Weigh In on Solar Geoengineering Experiment at Harvard

How to engage the public when everyone on Earth is a stakeholder?

  It’s been a surprisingly busy year for solar geoengineering research. In late December, Congress appropriated $4 million to NOAA to study the influence of atmospheric aerosols on climate, with an eye on assessing “solar climate interventions.” In March, Australian scientists ran a trial of a cloud-seeding technology on the Great Barrier Reef that may …

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The Danger of Climate Change Deadlines

deadline, by geralt at pixabay

Essential targets set by some of the world’s leading climate scientists and policymakers just passed. Now what?

Seven prominent figures in the global climate change policy discourse published an opinion essay in Nature. In “Three years to safeguard our climate,” they set a deadline for key targets to be met in order to stay on track to meet the Paris Agreement’s global warming goals. The notable thing is that the essay was …

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The Scourge of ERRD-16

Evident-Resistant Reasoning DIsorder can strike without warning.

A stubborn disagreement. A misguided tweet or facebook post. A lame remark. Those things can be normal behaviors. But they could be signs of something much more serious: a syndrome called Evidence-Resistant Reasoning Disorder or ERRD-16. This disorder has expanded explosively since a mutated form was introduced by a super-spreader in 2016. This super-spreader is …

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Environmentalists v. Cost-Benefit Analysis: What Does the Future Hold?

For now, at least, environmentalists and economists are aligned in criticizing Trump’s rollbacks. Will this alliance last?

If it’s true that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” environmentalists might want to take another look at cost-benefit analysis.  The Trump Administration is certainly doing its best to gut economic analysis of its rollbacks.  Both economists and environmentalists are resisting. Is this an alliance of convenience or will it be the start …

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