Tuesday, December 22, 2009


The avalanche of plastic that is being produced, used and discarded across the planet has grown exponentially since these polymers first became popular during the 1950s. But this is one problem that we can truly address as individuals--though we also need to push for regulation to protect both our own health and that of a planet that is drowning in plastic.

Check out my editorial "Solutions Exist for Taming the Plastic Monster" (not my title.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Big Coal is Worried

You know they're in a corner when the dogs start snapping.

The recent discovery that the coal industry was forging letters to Congress trying to herd them away from climate legislation shows how worried they really are.

Check out this article in yesterday's NY Times: Congressman Demands Answers on Forged Letters

The last administration handed over our national parks, coastlines and mountaintops to mining and drilling, having a fossil fuels party and ignoring the growing spectre of climate change. It's more than time that we step and take serious action to mitigate greenhouse gases--and for once, put corporate interests aside for the good of the planet.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Drugs, guns, gangs--and turtles

It is wild here, the stories are intense. Guns and drugs, lots of both.

Hit the ground running yesterday--4:30 rise, drove across the country and got on a Navy gunboat to explore a deserted island for hawksbill turtle nests--with an armed soldier.

Only two years ago, researchers discovered the last, best population of Eastern Pacific hawksbill sea turtles. Researcher J Nichols has jumped in here to try to quickly protect them--perhaps 100 turtles. Earlier this year, egg collecting was outlawed--up until now 95+ percent of the eggs were harvested and sold.

The big issue here is dodging the drug traffickers--some beaches and islands are totally off-limits. The police won't even enter these areas.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Am in London at the 6th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ): I was lucky enough to be given a Laura Van Dam Fellowship from the National Association of Science Writers to come here. Have attended great sessions on the state of science writing, journalism, book publishing, and new media, as well as specific issues like how science innovation will be needed to address burgeoning global needs for food, water and energy amidst the growing spectre of climate change. I was thrilled to hear John Beddington, the UK's Government Chief Science Advisor, bring up the need for population control and education of women--and identify big barriers to that as one world religion that still prohibits contraception and another that discourages the education of women. This issue is one that most governments and NGOs will not touch, and to me, is the pink elephant in the living room.

Fascinating to hear a global perspective on these and other issues from European, African, Asian, Australian journalists. Particularly interesting to hear differences in health care and health care costs and marketing (particularly pharmaceutical marketing) from European and Canadian journalists.

Also had some personal time with Darwin today: stepped into Westminster Abbey and saw his tomb, and in the evening, attended a WCSJ gala at the Natural History Museum. They just moved a huge marble statue of Darwin to the head of the main stairway to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth and 150 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species. Later this year, the museum will open a brand new building named for Darwin. I had the honor of attending the event with a colleague, Victoria Costello, who was the other Van Dam recipient.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Water Wars

Some say that freshwater is the new oil. Many predict that with growing population overshadowed by the spectre of climate change, wars of the future will be fought over water, not crude.

In the U.S., battles over water rights have a long history in the West, but conflicts over water--and particularly groundwater--are now occurring across the country.

Check out my recent syndicated editorial. Welcome to the Water Wars.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More dead tigers in India

There's more bad tiger news from India. Nine tigers have died in Kaziranga National Park, in Assam, in the past few weeks.

Kaziranga is one of eight new tiger reserves established by the Indian government over the last year. They were created in reaction to a grim report documenting a stunning 60 percent drop in tiger numbers from just five years ago: At most 1,411 tigers—perhaps as few as 1,165—still inhabit the country, marking an all-time low.

Kaziranga was considered to be one of few places in India where the cats are safe from poachers. Apparently not, although some of the deaths were attributed to natural causes.

Read more about the state of tigers in India in my recent article: Tigers in the Tank: Can we halt the decline of India's big cats before it's too late? It's the cover story in the current issue of Defenders Magazine.