Climate Change, California v. Trump Cases Lead the List
This is the second of three year-end posts on the most important environmental law decisions in 2020 from the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and California Supreme Court. (The key U.S. Supreme Court rulings were the focus of yesterday’s post, and tomorrow’s will feature California Supreme Court decisions.) Today, …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
The authors of a controversial, influential paper backtrack — again
Last summer, I pointed to a then-new paper in Science that concluded that planting trees could remove two-thirds of historical anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere at very low costs. At the time, I characterized the claims in it and the associated media communications as “misleading, if not false, as well as potentially dangerous.” …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
Trump has had a single-minded focus on eliminating any traces of Obama’s presidency. But it’s not too late to turn the tide.
We’ve now had nearly four years of Trump’s all-out war on environmental protection. Trump has single-mindedly tried to wipe out every trace of Obama’s legacy. It’s time to see what’s left of Obama’s achievements. And what could a new President do to revive his legacy? In a Legal Planet post a week before the last …CONTINUE READING
Why the fight against deforestation is more urgent than ever
Long before the wet markets of Wuhan became the focus of worldwide attention, scientists have pointed to tropical deforestation and habitat destruction as key factors facilitating the spread of zoonotic viruses such as Ebola and the Coronaviruses as well as other infectious and vector-borne diseases. The obvious lesson from this research is that protecting intact …CONTINUE READING
The president’s embrace of massive tree planting has a remarkable — and questionable — backstory
During last week’s State of the Union address, US President Donald Trump said: To protect the environment, days ago I announced that the United States will join the One Trillion Trees Initiative, an ambitious effort to bring together government and private sector to plant new trees in America and all around the world. Astute regular …CONTINUE READING