In working to change the world, there’s always a need to keep asking ourselves whether we’re focusing on what’s most important. This certainly applies to the effort to end tropical deforestation, which is why I and my UCS colleagues have put a lot of emphasis on figuring out what causes—and in particular, which businesses—are the main drivers of deforestation. Unfortunately, a recent study indicates that that global corporations that have committed to ending the deforestation they cause, have got their priorities backwards. And it suggests that the NGO community—and that definitely includes me—may have had our priorities wrong too.
Doug's Latest Posts
November 14, 2016 4:21 PM EDT
As both scientists (in many published papers) and political leaders (in the Paris Agreement) have now recognized, to stop global warming—to keep the global temperature from increasing indefinitely—we need to peak and then reduce emissions rapidly. We need to get our release of global warming pollution into the atmosphere, down to a level below the amount that carbon sequestration by the biosphere takes out of the atmosphere. This means that we have to work incredibly hard on two parallel tracks, simultaneously. On the one hand, cut pollution drastically. And on the other hand, regrow the biosphere. Read more >
August 23, 2016 10:46 AM EDT
Recent data related to our global emissions of heat-trapping gases suggest that humanity may have reached a turning point, or even several. We may be moving from increasing emissions, to peaking and starting to decline. We could be close to such peaks, or even have passed it, for several of the main sources of greenhouse gases, including coal and deforestation—perhaps even for humanity’s total emissions.
If so, this would be a momentous occasion, reversing centuries of growing global warming pollution. But before we start celebrating, we should realize that peaking is not nearly enough.
July 27, 2016 3:29 PM EDT
There’s a lot to be learned from Cowed, by Denis Hayes and Gail Boyer Hayes. It’s about cows, but the eclectic topics range from the scandalous coverup of mad cow disease, to the origin of modern cattle from the legendary aurochs (i.e. the “Ur-ox”), to the gender politics of the cowboy, to the federal government’s subsidy of beef over-grazing on our public lands, to a visit to a dairy farm run by robots. Yet there’s a serious underlying theme as well—that the U.S. needs a fundamental transformation of its relationship to the cattle industry. Read more >
June 28, 2016 12:35 PM EDT
Defending Beef, by Nicolette Hahn Niman, paints a picture of a better beef system, less damaging to the climate and the environment generally than the current system is. This is a vision I applaud, and one that my colleagues in the UCS Food and Environment program are researching. However, the book also raises scientific issues that I feel are worth exploring, since the dominant beef production system we have in place today, both globally and domestically, has some real problems. Read more >