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Doug Boucher

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About the author: 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.

Land Sparing, Water Saving, and the 2012 U.S. Drought

The drought of 2012 has reminded us that water is a scarce resource, even though we pay fractions of a penny per gallon for it and expect that it’ll be there every time we turn on the tap. We depend on it not only for our drinking and washing and especially for the food we eat, but also for generating the electric power on which our economy depends. Read More

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Will the 2012 U.S. Drought Burst the Farmland Property Bubble?

The Midwest drought continues to intensify. As you can see in this animation of how the 2012 drought has spread and deepened over the past 12 weeks, we’re witnessing a major climate impact on our agricultural system that is leading to record corn and soybean prices, among other significant and costly consequences. Lately I’ve started considering the potential long-run impact of this drought on the region and on the entire structure of U.S. agriculture. Read More

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Watch What You Say (or Don’t Say!) about Food

There have been several new reminders in the past couple of days that you have to be really careful with what you say about eating. We all do it, we all like it, and we all talk about it, but sometimes it can touch a nerve. Just yesterday we saw employees at the Department of Agriculture get into trouble for making suggestions about what to eat in the cafeteria. And now Michelle Obama is being criticized too – not for what she’s said about food, but for what she hasn’t said. Read More

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Beef, Tropical Forests, Our Climate, and Our Health

In preparing our new UCS report on meat and deforestation, I’ve been surprised at how often people think you’re saying “meat” when you actually said “beef.” Beef is meat, of course, but it’s not the only kind, and in fact it’s not even the most popular kind. Worldwide, pork actually has the largest share of meat consumption (40 percent) with poultry second at 34 percent. Beef makes up only 24 percent, and is continuing to decline in relative terms. Read More

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Negotiation Nostalgia: How Diplomats Negotiate International Agreements

I’m not in Rio de Janeiro. I’m in DC now, although as the weather heats up to the 90s today, and maybe up to 100 tomorrow, I’m thinking more and more that I should have found some excuse to go to the Rio+20 meeting. Even on the warmest days the beaches and the breezes, not to mention the great music and culture, make Rio a wonderful place to be. Even if you’re there to try, against all odds, to get the world’s leaders to take the environment seriously. Read More

Categories: Global Warming, Uncategorized  

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“My Mother Told Me to Eat All My Dinner” and the Global Food Market

When I was young, my mother used to tell me to eat all my dinner and would remind me that there were hungry children who would be happy to have what I was leaving on my plate. I’m sure lots of you heard the same thing. And if you were like me, it may have been the first time you actually doubted your parents’ wisdom, since it was obvious that whether I cleaned my plate or not, there was no way that the food would  go to those hungry children. It would end up in the garbage, or at best in a plastic container for me to eat the next day. But it certainly wouldn’t feed the hungry.

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Categories: Biofuel, Food and Agriculture  

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Girl Scouts in Washington and Peat Forests in Malaysia – What’s the Link?

What  do these two things have to do with each other? The connection is palm oil, which is a major threat to tropical forests. This week brought important developments on both fronts: a whirlwind visit to political leaders in Washington by the two Girl Scouts who are leading the campaign to make Girl Scout cookies deforestation-free, and a scientific paper showing just why their work is so important — not just for orangutans, but for global warming as well.

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Five Good Reasons to Eat Food (and One Not-So-Good One)

For most of my life I never thought much about what I ate. Generally I’ve been dependent on others – first my mother, now my wife – for good meals. My foraging philosophy has been simple: When I feel hungry, I search for something close at hand and do whatever is necessary to make it edible. Like the Checkers ad says, “ya gotta eat,” so I do.

However, in the last few years I’ve started to think about what I eat, and why. Read More

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