The discussion around the catastrophe in Texas is politically informative but it misses the main point. The strong polar cold that has dipped into the south of North America is a manifestation of climate change. Texans should plan to upgrade their grid and improve the ability of their power sources to function in cold because this will happen again. Methane pipelines and pumping stations failed as the system froze. As has been explained in the media, in the 1930s Texas decided to build its own grid and supply its own power to avoid federal regulation and collaboration with other states…

Wikimedia Commons 2020

As a novice backpacker in the Pacific Northwest there were several times when I mistook the peak in my near field of view to be the top of whatever mountain that was my destination. The phenomenon of the false summit is something that most people have experienced as a metaphor for life’s challenges. Present progress on addressing climate change is a false summit unless we fully understand the nature of any perceived progress and the extreme danger of ongoing climate and biosphere disruption.

As a member of the post-war generation the current environmental crises have carved an arc through my…


“Geo-engineering holds forth the promise of addressing global warming concerns for just a few billion dollars a year.” Newt Gingrich 2008

“Solar geoengineering solves everything! It’s great! We don’t need to bother to cut emissions.” President Trump 2017

“The main findings are that any implementation of stratospheric geoengineering could end catastrophically for many species. Although if geoengineering were ever done, it would not make sense to abruptly end it, there are credible scenarios where this might happen. Should society ever take that risk?” Alan Robock, Rutgers University

It is obvious that climate change will be the biggest challenge of this…

Dandelions — a ubiquitous European invasive in North America

“An invasive species is defined as a species that is: 1) non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and, 2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.”

- USDA legal definition

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

- Aldo Leopold

In a geological time frame there is little meaning to the terms alien or invasive. The vast majority of species on Earth have some degree of vicariance, i.e., mobility through…

NRDC 2019

As a nation we have passed a political tipping point. The effects of decades of divisive rhetoric from right wing media and craven zero-sum political manipulation of race and economics by the GOP will be with us for decades to come. With the election of Trump our nation has been consumed by the negativity of his corruption, denial of science, overt racism, outright lies, and steady stream of illiterate demagoguery.

The divisions in American culture are deeper than ever and unlikely to be healed by a general election. We have paid a horrific price for not standing up to tyranny…

Graphic from The Conversation

Indelible in my memory is that day that I lost my political virginity. In March 2007 I was just beginning to deliver an invited talk on the science of climate change to a joint committee of the Florida legislature when a conservative senator rose from his seat and called me a charlatan and demanded that I be dismissed. I was asked to step down.

The good news is that I finished my talk on time. The bad news is that the Florida legislature made it abundantly clear that the topic of my talk would be censored. Only one newspaper in…

Poster from the WPA

I am an economist. As a professional ecologist I have been trained in the economy of nature. It is only those economists that service the financial industry who treat the human economy as if it is separate from the economy of nature. Since the time of Adam Smith the evidence has been overwhelming that they are tragically wrong.

I continue to be impressed by the twisted economic logic that has been applied to the mitigation of climate change and now to the management of COVID-19. In both cases governments and the financial industry have acted on the assumption that growing…

Photo by Anthony Quintano, via Flckr

There are several parallels between the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, but perhaps the most disturbing is the intentional disregard of the value of human life in favor of money. This is hardly the first time since the end of WWII that money vs. lives has defined our daily lives. From the institutionalized denial of the damage from smoking tobacco, to the utter failure of the war on drugs, to the brutal promotion of addictive opiates by Big Pharma, financial gain by big corporations and wealthy individuals has defined the market based reality of modern existence. …

Tropical storms forming near the Intertropical Convergence Zone (Wikipedia)

It is obvious that all weather now occurs in a human-altered climate. Thus, the question is not if a weather event has been caused by climate change, but rather which features of that event are attributable to climate change. Attribution is a rapidly growing branch of climate science that is showing us how features of extreme weather, floods, droughts, and fires are likely connected to climate change. As much as 30 percent of the mortality associated with the European heat wave of 2003 is attributable to climate warming.

Hurricane Dorian is indicative of how the features of cyclones can be…

Stephen Mulkey

Environmental scientist and educator; forest and climate change ecologist.

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