For many years, small farmers in developing countries have been blamed for deforestation because of the way that they make breakfast. While in developed countries nearly everyone cooks with fossil fuels, or with electricity generated by fossil fuels or hydroelectricity, in developing countries firewood still predominates, especially among the poorest people in rural areas. But is this really an important driver of deforestation—and thus a major contributor to global warming? A new study—the most in-depth and comprehensive look at the subject yet—says no.
February 26th, 2015
Co-founder, Borneo Futures Initiative
January 30th, 2015
The word “Borneo” has always evoked Jungle Book-like images for me: an idyllic place free of human intervention, covered with endless tropical virgin jungles and majestic trees, inhabited by amazing creatures, especially the “people of the forest” or orang-utan. Read More
January 27th, 2015
Today we’re releasing an important report on what the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases could do to reduce the global warming pollution released by their land sectors—that is, their agriculture and forests. It’s called Halfway There? What the Land Sector Can Contribute to Closing the Emissions Gap.
December 10th, 2014
You hear the phrase “we’re number one!” from Americans fairly often, usually in relation to sports or politics. Now new research from the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that there’s another domain where it applies. It’s not as an assertion of superiority, and probably never will lead to a chant at the Olympics, the World Cup or even the UN climate negotiations. Rather, it’s in terms of our potential to use our land sector – that is, agriculture and forests – to reduce our global warming pollution and avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
December 4th, 2014
December 1st, 2014
The new annual data on Amazon deforestation in Brazil has just come out, and it’s good news. For the latest year—August 2013 through July 2014—the annual total was 4,848 square kilometers. That’s 18 percent less than in the previous year, and the second-lowest figure ever. Read More
November 14th, 2014
Hold on to your hats because this coming Sunday is a day for parties. The Internet tells me that three different holidays fall on Sunday, November 16. First, it’s National Button Day which makes sense because who doesn’t love buttons? It’s also Have a Party with Your Bear Day. I’m thinking the best way to rejoice might be to listen to a classic childhood song. And lastly, it’s National Fast Food Day. Read More
November 5th, 2014
While this morning’s headlines naturally focus on the change in leadership in the U.S. Senate, nothing in the results should change anyone’s mind on these clear truths: we know Americans trust science, support cutting global warming emissions, and want help for communities struggling with the very real consequences of climate change. Read More
October 29th, 2014
On Monday Bunge, an agribusiness and food ingredient company based out of White Plains, New York, indicated its intention to ensure the palm oil that it sources will be deforestation- and peat-free. Coming from one of the largest traders of palm oil in the world, Bunge’s announcement is significant for what it means for both the world climate and for ecosystems at risk due to palm oil production. But to me it also signifies that the status quo—palm oil that is linked with deforestation and peatland destruction—is a sinking ship that is increasingly risky to stay aboard. Read More
October 8th, 2014
Thinking about trees often makes you think about your grandchildren. Both start small, can live for many decades, and will grow old in a world very different from ours today. And they’re connected. I expect that my granddaughter Esme, who just turned 1 ½, will probably live in a house made of wood, will write on paper, and perhaps will keep her house warm in the winter, as my wife and I do, with a wood stove. Have we thought about what trees that wood will come from? Read More