Category Archives: Biodiversity

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 […]

Disdain for the Future

I first encountered the idea that the future was something one could study in 1971 from historian Roger Howell Jr.  In one way or another, thinking about the future informed much that I have written about since, including here in Stirring the Pot. In my way of thinking about the future, I believe there should […]

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 […]

Pennies for Puffins

In the last two decades of the 20th Century, environmental economists made tremendous strides in developing techniques to measure economic values when there are no markets (they call these “non-market valuation”).  These efforts grew out of the criticism of the environmental statutes adopted in the 1970s like the Clean Air Act or the Endangered Species […]

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:   […]

Open Season on Chickadees

It was an honor to give the Geddes Simpson Memorial Lecture at UMaine last week.  In the lecture I put forth the proposition that the State of Maine adopt an open firearms season on chickadees under which every holder of a hunting license could shoot an unlimited number of chickadees during the year.  After all, the […]