Periodically in the spring, I have the pleasure of teaching Plant Taxonomy to students at a small college in Asheville, North Carolina. Among other things, I love the way that teaching this class forces me to pay close attention to what is coming out of the ground, leafing out, or flowering at any particular point of the season in the Blue Ridge Mountains where our campus is nestled. Read more >
July 7, 2017 9:24 AM EDT
April 13, 2017 3:32 PM EDT
Back in December, I wrote a blog post about the importance of beef as the largest driver of deforestation. The following month, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council wrote a blog on their site, TheOilPalm.org, arguing that my blog proved that palm oil had been unfairly blamed for deforestation, and demanding an apology. Here’s why they’re wrong. Read more >
January 24, 2017 2:39 PM EDT
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?
December 14, 2016 4:30 PM EDT
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.
October 11, 2016 4:23 PM EDT
I recently returned to the United States from Cali, Colombia where I worked for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (or CIAT, its Spanish-language abbreviation) for a couple years. CIAT is part of a global network of 15 agricultural research centers in the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research), which have traditionally focused on crop breeding to raise yields of staple crops around the world. Read more >