The battle for Bristol Bay isn’t over

By David Aplin, interim managing director of WWF’s U.S. Arctic program

Time and time again, the people of Bristol Bay, the State of Alaska, and the United States have said overwhelmingly that the risks associated with development of the Pebble Mine are too great. Bristol Bay’s sustainable ecosystems and all of the values they support should not be compromised. Local business leaders don’t want it. The region’s tribes don’t want it. And more than a million Americans have gone on record demanding that this national treasure be protected.

A journey through Earth’s history by canoe part 2: Rivers keep flowing and life goes on

  From the beginning of life, rivers experiment, trying new directions and invariably taking the easiest path. Everything follows the line of least resistance, a river, a vein cutting through rock, animals crossing a hillside, people on their way to work. As we go in search of some of the earliest life, passing through layers…

What’s the cost of a surf-and-turf dinner? 1,795 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

What’s the cost of an average shrimp-and-steak dinner? If it comes from the loss of mangrove forests to aquaculture and agriculture, it’s 1,795 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s about the same amount of greenhouse gases produced by driving a fuel-efficient car from Los Angeles to New York City. Clearcutting of tropical mangrove forests to…

Adding an Indigenous Perspective to a Global Scientific Effort

In an exciting collaboration to better understand the world’s most complicated watersheds, the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have joined forces to create the Global Rivers Observatory (GRO)—an ambitious effort committed to the continuous study of watershed health around the world. So how cool that they recently invited us…

Enviromedics: Our Marble Needs to Stay Blue

The following is an excerpt from the book “Enviromedics: The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health” that was recently published by Rowman & Littlefield. By Jay Lemery, MD, and Paul Auerbach, MD As any astronaut who has gazed down during spaceflight can tell us, Earth is a planet of water. But only 1 percent…

Journey through Earth’s history by canoe part 1: Hunting for early life in Arctic Canada

  It was early morning on the Coppermine River in Nunavut, Canada. A gentle mist rose from the surface of the glassy water, the sun’s first pink rays sparkling in the moving current. In the distance, the gurgling sound of faster flowing water was punctuated by birds waking in the trees, dragonflies chasing the buzz…

WHAT THE RIVER KNOWS: Chaobai River, 潮白河, Beijing, China

Thanks for assistance from Dr. Fei Xue, University of Technology, Beijing, China; and Dr. Changwoo Ahn, George Mason University, and Principal Investigator for the panel, “EcoScience+Art: Interdisciplinary Collaboration Between Ecosystem Science and Art to Enhance Ecological Communication and Resilience,” at the International Association of Ecology, Beijing, China, 2017, funded by the National Science Foundation. Photos…

‘Planetary Boundaries’ a flawed mechanism to safeguard Earth’s biodiversity, scientists warn

The notion that human impacts will be fine, so long as we keep them within “planetary boundaries” is seductive, but deeply flawed scientifically. Worse, though well-intentioned, it encourages harmful policies, three of the world’s leading ecologists argue in a peer-reviewed commentary published this month in Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

“A critical question is how should we manage human actions that harm the natural world,” said Stuart L. Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “Do we really want to operate under the assumption – as the notion of a planetary boundary for biodiversity purports – that humans can go about business as usual so long as the impacts of our actions remain within some arbitrary ‘safe operating space’?”

A Displaced Spirit: The Uncertain Future of Africa’s Greatest River

When the Bujagali dam was erected on Uganda’s White Nile in 2011, the World Bank hired local witch doctors to relocate the river’s spirit gods. The deities that dwell in the Nile’s massive rapids were moved to cataracts on different, unaffected stretches of the river. This struck me as remarkable: the entity responsible for funding construction of the colossal Bujagali dam was also responsible for appeasing and relocating displaced river spirits.

The Short Yet Dramatic Lifecycle of The Patagonian Flightless Crane Fly

Flightless (Patagonia’s Untold Stories) It has finally pushed itself through the entangled root mats. Months of development feeding on wet detritus have come to an end. It will now emerge as a full-fledged adult. The upper portion of its body hangs perpendicular to the rock wall, exposed to the elements. It begins to break free…

How we can do more with less water – and then give some back to nature

In her just-released book, Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity, Sandra Postel makes the case that building water security in the 21st Century requires that we enlist nature’s help in preparing for floods, droughts, wildfires and water shortages.  In this Q&A, Sandra talks about our false narratives around water, why she refrains from using the term “water resource,” and what gives her hope for solving society’s big water challenges.

Projeto Tamanduá in the Pantanal

My work in Brazil focuses on invasive species on islands, but to see a different side of conservation I have joined the Projeto Tamanduá 2017 course in the Pantanal. The Pantanal is the largest wetland in the world with the highest concentration of species in the Americas.

Global Handwashing Day: Reflecting on handwashing under the Ethiopian sun  

One hot afternoon last year, there was dancing and singing as a young girl named Nigisti stepped forward to wash her hands. Other students at the Abi Adi School in Trigray, Ethiopia stood in line behind her, grinning widely as they awaited their turn. As Nigisti scrubbed the soap between her fingers, the school’s principal…

Preparing for Floods, Droughts and Water Shortages by Working with, Rather than Against, Nature

Decades ago, Albert Einstein reminded us of a fundamental lesson that’s hard to learn: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Fortunately, just when it’s crucially needed, a new mind-set about water is taking shape. It’s one that blends engineering, ecology, economics, and related fields into a more holistic approach that recognizes the fundamental value of nature’s services.

Wildlife on Islands of the Rio Negro

Touring through the Amazon I had the unique opportunity to spend a day visiting the small seasonally flooded islands of the Rio Negro. This dynamic landscape plays a huge role regulating local biodiversity.