Doug Boucher

Scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

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Doug Boucher is an expert in preserving tropical forests to curtail global warming emissions. He has been participating in United Nations international climate negotiations since 2007 and his expertise has helped shape U.S. and U.N. policies. He holds a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan. See Doug's full bio.

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Photo: Angelo Cavalli/Corbis

Are Business’ Zero-Deforestation Palm Oil Pledges Being Kept? Here’s How We’ll Know

One important development of the past decade is the large number of corporate commitments to eliminate deforestation and exploitation from their supply chains. In response to the demands of civil society, and recognizing the critical value of their brands’ images to their bottom lines, dozen of companies have pledged to become deforestation- and exploitation-free by specific dates—often 2020 or sooner. But how can we—the consumers who buy their products and insisted that they act—know whether they’re actually doing what they promised?

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Ending Tropical Deforestation: Have We Got Our Priorities Backwards?

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.

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Restoring U.S. Forests by Mid-Century

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 >

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Peak Oil, Peak Coal, Peak Deforestation, Peak Emissions…. and Why They’re Not Nearly Enough

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.

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Book Review: Cowed’s Message is Less but Better Beef

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 >

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