15 posts · 7,895 views
Human impacts on the environment, how to measure them, and what to do about it
Agriculture will play a critical role in how our society responds to climate change. One of the main obstacles keeping more farmers from participating in carbon markets is the difficulty of accurately measuring the carbon that is sequestered in their fields.In addition to the costs of field-scale monitoring, much of this difficulty can be traced to limited knowledge of how complex soil processes translate into the ecosystem service of interest: how much carbon is sequestered.A new paper in Ecolo........ Read more »
Dominati, E., Patterson, M., & Mackay, A. (2010) A framework for classifying and quantifying the natural capital and ecosystem services of soils. Ecological Economics. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.05.002
For those who have run out of patience for the promised benefits of ‘sustainable development,’ there is a new alternative paradigm: sustainable de-growth.The objective of sustainable de-growth is characterized by “an equitable and democratic transition to a smaller economy with less production and consumption,” with the goal of creating a “society built on quality rather than on quantity, on cooperation rather than on competition.”The authors of a new paper in Ecological Economics la........ Read more »
Martínez-Alier, J., Pascual, U., Vivien, F., & Zaccai, E. (2010) Sustainable de-growth: Mapping the context, criticisms and future prospects of an emergent paradigm. Ecological Economics. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.04.017
A major opportunity – worth $3 billion over the next half century – in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean may be lost by the tuna fishing industry, which risks declining profits in the face of declining tuna stocks.Capturing this additional economic value would more than double the industry’s profits by mid-century, according to a projection published in this month’s Conservation Letters: 'Bioeconomic losses from overharvesting tuna.' The authors developed a ........ Read more »
The agricultural sector stands to benefit from the use of markets to create value for the non-commodity benefits they provide to society. Researchers writing in Ecological Economics identify specific actions to be taken to shape the form and function of markets for ecosystem services provided by agriculture.To facilitate effective interactions between buyers and sellers, market actors must address issues of regulation, market design, program coordination (e.g., with other incentives for providin........ Read more »
Ribaudo, M., Greene, C., Hansen, L., & Hellerstein, D. (2010) Ecosystem services from agriculture: Steps for expanding markets☆. Ecological Economics. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.02.004
The ecosystem services concept has been a powerful metaphor for getting people to appreciate and value the services provided by nature, culminating in the 2005 Millennium Assessment, which deemed ecosystem services the “central framework for scientifically assessing ecosystem change.”Ever since, there has been an exponential increase in the use of the term “ecosystem services” in academic journals, with over 250 journal articles in 2007.But although the concept started as a metaphor for ........ Read more »
Norgaard, R. (2010) Ecosystem services: From eye-opening metaphor to complexity blinder. Ecological Economics, 69(6), 1219-1227. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.11.009
Will protection of natural capital ever be rewarded at the scale that the world's established economic interests currently reward resource extraction and depletion?The answer: Given the biophysical characteristics of climate change and biodiversity, “none of the existing schemes for providing global ecosystem services are adequate, given the scale of the problem.” This is the conclusion of a new paper published in a recent Ecological Economics special issue on ecosystem services. The researc........ Read more »
Farley, J., Aquino, A., Daniels, A., Moulaert, A., Lee, D., & Krause, A. (2010) Global mechanisms for sustaining and enhancing PES schemes. Ecological Economics. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.02.016
Despite the promise of payments for ecosystem services (PES) in supporting effective conservation, there are relatively few cases in which PES strategies have been used to conserve wildlife in developing countries. A paper recently published in the February issue of Conservation Biology – ‘Payments for ecosystem services as a framework for community-based conservation in northern Tanzania’ - highlights a group of tourism operators who are using a PES framework to address the “persistent ........ Read more »
NELSON, F., FOLEY, C., FOLEY, L., LEPOSO, A., LOURE, E., PETERSON, D., PETERSON, M., PETERSON, T., SACHEDINA, H., & WILLIAMS, A. (2010) Payments for Ecosystem Services as a Framework for Community-Based Conservation in Northern Tanzania. Conservation Biology, 24(1), 78-85. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01393.x
The U.S. military reported this month that peak oil may be closer than we think. Despite this fact, the environmental impacts of an abrupt move away from oil have not been studied and are not well understood. In fact, according to a new paper published earlier this week in Conservation Biology, “the impact of peak oil will be far more immediate, certain, and perhaps larger than that of climate change, although peak oil has received far less scientific scrutiny, press, and funding than climate ........ Read more »
CZÚCZ, B., GATHMAN, J., & McPHERSON, G. (2010) The Impending Peak and Decline of Petroleum Production: an Underestimated Challenge for Conservation of Ecological Integrity. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01503.x
Climate change is not a new concept. Indeed, many environmental problems either caused or made worse by human behavior are well-known, at least among the scientists who study them.But despite warnings from these same scientists over the last two decades, little has been done.Paul Ehrlich, the renowned Stanford biologist, is ready to change that. Ehrlich is launching a new initiative – the Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB) – to address the fact that, for some time scientists have........ Read more »
Ehrlich, P. (2010) The MAHB, the Culture Gap, and Some Really Inconvenient Truths. PLoS Biology, 8(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000330
Unbeknownst to them, the salmon of western North America achieve a significant feat in their annual upstream pilgrimage. In their selfish quest to return to their native spawning grounds, the salmon ‘transport’ millions of tons of biomass – protein – hundreds of miles inland, for the benefit of wolves and other creatures.Indeed, it appears the wolves of Denali National Park in Alaska rely on salmon, enabling them to live in places where large terrestrial prey is not abundant.This conclus........ Read more »
Adams, L., Farley, S., Stricker, C., Demma, D., Roffler, G., Miller, D., & Rye, R. (2010) Are inland wolf–ungulate systems influenced by marine subsidies of Pacific salmon?. Ecological Applications, 20(1), 251-262. DOI: 10.1890/08-1437.1
To answer the question of how to meet the food and fuel needs of a growing, increasingly prosperous human population without cutting down the world’s forests in the process, a research team literally drew a map of carbon stocks and crop yields for the entire globe. Based on the “strong differences in the carbon-crop tradeoff among regions,” increasing yield on existing tropical croplands is preferable to clearing new land. The authors used maps of crop distribution and average yields, toge........ Read more »
West, P., Gibbs, H., Monfreda, C., Wagner, J., Barford, C., Carpenter, S., & Foley, J. (2010) Climate Mitigation and Food Production in Tropical Landscapes Special Feature: Trading carbon for food: Global comparison of carbon stocks vs. crop yields on agricultural land. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(46), 19645-19648. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1011078107
Copenhagen drew lots of attention to Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). Much of the interest is based upon the fact that carbon-rich tropical forests happen to hold a majority of the world’s biodiversity, so money spent on combating climate change could potentially also benefit other things we care about; namely, biodiversity.However, REDD is designed to combat climate change – in particular, by making forest protection cost-competitive with alternati........ Read more »
Venter, O., Laurance, W., Iwamura, T., Wilson, K., Fuller, R., & Possingham, H. (2009) Harnessing Carbon Payments to Protect Biodiversity. Science, 326(5958), 1368-1368. DOI: 10.1126/science.1180289
A recent paper in Ecology Letters, “Understanding relationships among multiple ecosystem services,” addresses the relationship among multiple ecosystem services at a single site, addressing in particular one consequence of maximizing one ecosystem service: other services often decline substantially.
Despite growing interest in ecosystem services, the authors contend that much of the research literature is limited by only considering a single ecosystem service, or at most two service........ Read more »
Bennett, E., Peterson, G., & Gordon, L. (2009) Understanding relationships among multiple ecosystem services. Ecology Letters, 12(12), 1394-1404. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01387.x
A new study re-examines a famous bet, made in 1980, over whether natural resource scarcity would be reflected in increasing commodity prices over the ensuing decade. By expanding the time period of interest – to 1900-2008 rather than the 1980s only – the researchers find that commodity prices are in fact going up.Paul Ehrlich, a neo-Malthusian, was allowed to choose a basket of five commodities: chrome, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten. His speculation was that economic growth would........ Read more »
Kiel, K., Matheson, V., & Golembiewski, K. (2010) Luck or skill? An examination of the Ehrlich–Simon bet. Ecological Economics. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.03.007
Climate modeling is hard. The Earth’s climate system is complex, with infinite interactions and feedbacks that interact across scales. There is often uncertainty, and a result the models are inherently imprecise.Nonetheless, they’re a powerful tool, and they get better every day. Scaling down these models is critical to providing a better prediction of future climate and rainfall patterns. And a recent study in Environment, Development and Sustainability does exactly this to show wha........ Read more »
Ibarrarán, M., Malone, E., & Brenkert, A. (2009) Climate change vulnerability and resilience: current status and trends for Mexico. Environment, Development and Sustainability. DOI: 10.1007/s10668-009-9201-8
Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.
If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.
Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.
To learn more, visit seedmediagroup.com.