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10 Reasons, 5 Years: What’s Changed about Deforestation

From time to time we take a look at things we published several years ago, to see whether they’re still up to date. We often need to decide whether to reprint them as is, revise them first, or simply decide to stop using them. This requires figuring out whether the information they contain is still valid, or has become somewhat obsolete in light of new science and recent political developments. Read More

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Deforestation and its Drivers: What Does ALL the Science Say?

Over the years that we’ve worked on reducing the global warming pollution, we’ve delved quite a bit into the scientific studies on what drives tropical deforestation. We’ve looked at major causes, such as palm oil and beef, and tried to keep up with the new literature on deforestation so that our actions and the policies we suggest are based on the latest science. Most recently, this is reflected in our review of cases in which tropical countries have significantly reduced deforestation or even reforested. Now, there’s a new report out that is an important step forward in summarizing what the science – all the science – tells us about the causes of deforestation and what can be done about it.

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Successes in Reducing Deforestation and the Global Warming Pollution it Causes

I’m now in Bonn at the United Nations climate negotiations, where the big news is that in the last week the world’s two biggest emitters – China and the United States – have announced important actions to cut their carbon pollution, especially from the coal that they burn. These steps are welcome, but they are plans, not accomplishments, and they come late compared to other countries that have already acted to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

Ironically, most of these successes are in tropical developing countries, where countries’ reductions in rates of deforestation and in some cases their reforestation of cleared land have cut their net emissions of global warming pollution. Their actions have already accomplished more for the climate than the actions of many developed nations have.

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Palm Oil, Deforestation, and the Fast Food Industry: Would You Like a Side of Forests with That?

I travel a lot for my job and after long days on the road the one thing that gets me through is constancy. I pack basically the same clothes for every trip and try to keep up the same workout routine, but the one place it’s hard to keep things constant is in what I eat. Read More

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Peat Soils vs. the Forests Above: Which Holds More Carbon?

At first glance, tropical peat soils might not seem all that exciting. Dead branches and leaves that have not fully decomposed because of waterlogged conditions? Once upon a time, even I might have found this, well, boring. Read More

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Global Agriculture As Part of the Climate Solution

For quite a while, agriculture was dismissed as a possible way to mitigate climate change, because it’s where our food comes from, and we can’t live without food. From this obvious fact came the misinterpretation that we couldn’t cut agricultural greenhouse gas emissions without threatening food security. Read More

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Cows Are the Real Hogs: The IPCC and the Demand Side of Agriculture

One small but important breakthrough in the new IPCC report on climate mitigation, released Sunday in Berlin, is that the chapter on agriculture, forest, and other land use (AFOLU) looks at the demand side, not just supply. In other words, it not only asks how we can create less global warming pollution in producing food and wood products, but also what kinds of food and wood products we ought to be producing and consuming if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change. Read More

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What do Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Indonesian Forests All Have in Common?

The answer, of course, is Harrison Ford. He stars in Showtime’s new dramatic documentary series on climate change Years of Living Dangerously, and deforestation due to palm oil is Ford’s latest crusade. Read More

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Why Should We Conserve Southeast Asia’s Peat Swamp Forests?

Guest Bogger

David S. Wilcove, Professor & Xingli Giam, Ph.D. candidate
Princeton University

Princeton, New Jersey

A fetid swamp filled with dangerous animals and diseases.  A vast expanse of muck serving no useful purpose.  A century ago, that was the way people viewed the Everglades in the United States, and they went about ditching and draining this amazing wetland until much of it had been converted to “useful” cropland and pastures, and the wildlife had been decimated.  Read More

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How Many Products with Palm Oil Do I Use in a Day?

I’ve heard it. You’ve heard it. We’ve all heard it. In fact, I’ve even written it, “While most U.S. consumers have never gone to the supermarket and purchased a bottle of palm oil directly, as they would, say, canola or olive oil, chances are good that they use a product containing palm oil every day.” Read More

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