Shifting Baselines

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A Lame Duck Screwing The Environment

During Clinton’s 11th hour, he initiated a number of policies that protected the environment; some of those regulations have remained in force, including the protection of almost 60 million acres of roadless areas. According to an article in Nature this week (and the OMB Watch, a Washington DC-based advocacy group), Bush is gearing up to…

The New York Times ran an excellent profile of naturalist and local Vancouver legend Alexandra Morton. She has spent her life studying orcas and salmon near the Broughton Archipelago off the coast of British Columbia. But over the last decades, her attention was forced toward fish farms and sea lice, which threaten the future of…

“A new global deal on climate change will come too late to save most of the world’s coral reefs…major ecological damage to the oceans is now inevitable.” This according to The Guardian, which reports the finding of a new study in Geophysical Research Letters. The authors of the study found that the risk posed by…

Last week, a smack of moon jellies jammed the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant off the California coast. The rise of slime and the closure of power plants. Just another shifting baseline.

Barcelona Blues

I just returned from the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, where 8,000 of conservation’s “best and brightest” (along with plenty of the “most important”) gathered to discuss, talk, and work toward a more diverse and sustainable world. I wish I had good news to report – but it is mostly more along the lines of…

The mislabeling and renaming of fish is a problem. It means that consumers are often paying more than they should for their seafood. Plus, it impedes the consumer’s ability to make environmentally or health conscious choices. I also really like the twin problems of renaming and mislabeling because they are unconventional sources of signs of…

The “Best Of” Some Good Reading

Every year Houghton-Mifflin puts out a edited volume entitled “The Best American Science and Nature Writing”. The latest volume looks like some delightful bedtime reading (although I may be biased because I was chosen as one of the authors). It includes works by Freeman Dyson, Edward Hoagland, David Quammen, Oliver Sachs, and many others. Editor…

Catfish: Lackluster No More

Say hello to delecata, a high grade specially filleted piece of North American farmed catfish. This new name was created with hopes of boosting the profile and profits of a struggling industry. In The New York Times Magazine, Paul Greenberg tells the story of U.S. southern fish farmers competing in a global marketplace and a…

Et Tu Pollock?

Pollock, the poster child for sustainable fishing, appears to be on the brink of collapse. I have more on the state of Bering Sea pollock fishery in my guest post at the Gristmill…

Mislabeled Fish

In 1992, Consumer Reports published an article titled, “The label said Snapper, the lab said baloney”. Fifteen years later, the mislabeling of red snapper is, if anything, more widespread. A 2004 study in Nature showed 75 percent of red snapper sold in the U.S. is some other fish. Menus offer up red snapper despite that…