Category Archives: Anthropocene

One Lesson NOT to Take from France’s “Yellow Vest” Protests

One narrative about the Yellow Vest protests in France is that politicians should not adopt energy taxes to change behaviors that lead to climate change.  In this telling, the political costs of wise energy policy are too high.  This is an overly simple reading of the French experience and is a convenient excuse for those […]

What Climate Change and the U.S. Federal Deficit Have in Common

Let’s start with two facts. First, the human population continues to change in unprecedented ways how the Earth’s systems function.  Originally this was called global warming.  The realization that changes in the global climate included more than just temperature changes led to use of the term climate change.  Now we understand that more in nature […]

Inequality and Concern for the Environment

If you have read Stirring the Pot blog very much (thank you), you will have noticed two persistent themes —  inequality and the environment. Examples of bogs on inequality include: Class Warfare? Shame on Us The Crisis of Our Age: Part II Welfare Economics Among those on environmental issues are: When Did We Stop Worrying […]

Lessons From Seaweed

Most Mainers know something about seaweed, some of what they know might even be true.  My mother sang the praises of dulse in her diet, though I recall that she rarely ate it.  My father used what we called rockweed from the shores of Penobscot Bay to enrich his vegetable garden.  R.P.T. Coffin describes the […]

The Northern Bobwhite Calls for a New Ethic

For the past few weeks we have heard a Northern Bobwhite singing in our neighborhood. This is a bird we associate with Southern New England, so we were surprised to hear it in Eastern Maine.  My first thought was,  here is yet another bird whose range has moved north in response to climate change, a […]

Lessons from Japan for Imagining Sustainable De-growth

Cornell University ecologist David Pimentel and colleagues estimated that the earth might be able to sustain only 2 billion people by the end of the fossil fuel era.  There are about 7.5 billion humans on the planet right now.  It seems counterintuitive that there is nearly 4 times the sustainable population now living on the […]

Rewilding Maine’s Southern Beaches

Before last weekend, the last time I had spent any time on Maine’s Southern beaches was a field trip for a geology class in my first year of college (don’t ask the year).  Professor Hussey used the trip to immerse us in the patterns of coastal geology.  In early April we spent a couple of […]

When Did We Stop Worrying About Population Growth?

In the environmental debates of the 1970s, one common name hurled at environmentalists was to call them “neo-Malthusians.”   This dismissive insult was meant to imply that the concern for environmental issues was nothing more than the contemporary application of the failed analysis of Thomas Malthus (1766-1834).  Malthus was a classical economist in the tradition of […]

What It Means When Humans Impoverish Nature

In Henry Beston’s eloquent classic of nature writing, The Outermost House, he worried about the decline in birds he was seeing on the Great Beach of Cape Cod.  Even in the 1920s when he spent his year on the Beach, humans were adversely impacting birds and other parts of nature.  Beston identified a “new” danger:   […]

312 & 2,600,000,000

I am inspired by students from Dalhousie University in Halifax who have been getting tattoos.  These are simple tattoos, just three digits, placed somewhere conspicuous.  The number is the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere in their birth year.  Were I inclined to get a tattoo, mine would be 319. Since my birth […]