Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fake Fights about Big Forces

March 10, 2014 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Oh dear, I thought this morning upon reading “Is the Wolf a Real American Hero?,” an op-ed piece in the New York Times by Arthur Middleton, a post-doctoral student.  This is going to make lots of people hopping mad, and for no good reason.  It comes on the heels of another challenge to the trophic […]

Sixth Extinction

February 8, 2014 | Uncategorized | Permalink

“There is grandeur in this view of life,” concludes Charles Darwin in his opus “On the Origin of Species.” “… From so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.” Darwin was right about many things, including the mechanism by which the plenitude of life we know as biodiversity […]

The Constant Gardener

December 12, 2013 | Uncategorized | Permalink

One of the reasons I’m slightly obsessed with botanic gardens is that the earliest impulse to create them integrated science and religion within their leafy bowers. The 16th century monks who planned and planted Europe’s first botanic gardens did so as an act of devotion to God.  They collected seeds and specimens from all over the […]

Watering Holes

November 5, 2013 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Climate change provokes not just water rising up over our heads but emotional flooding as well.  If I had heard only William Collins and Chris Field at the 2013 Philomathia Forum on “Water, Climate, and Society,” last week, I would probably have gone out and bought a Barcalounger and tried to develop a taste for […]

Eyes Wide Shutdown

October 16, 2013 | Uncategorized | Permalink

I hated that Kubrick movie but I love the title.  It’s pretty apt for what this government paroxysm is doing to science all over the world.  Take stalled scientific expeditions to Antarctica, where expensive instruments tuned to the pulses of melting ice caps stand in danger of going unmonitored this year.  This doesn’t represent just […]

Flying on the Umwelt

September 6, 2013 | Uncategorized | Permalink

On Wednesday Allen Fish and I talk umwelt up at Hawk Hill.  Fish is the director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory and commandante of its annual hawk watch – in which more than 300 volunteers cycle through shifts to daily count raptors commuting across the Golden Gate Bridge on their Southern migration.  While Fish […]

The Snake, the Seeker and the Smartphone

August 8, 2013 | Uncategorized | Permalink

  Effective communication about the environment, check.  Inspiration to address threats to Earth processes, check.  Community of like-minded people who want to help, check check check check.  The subtitle was:  can tech save biodiversity? The members of the panel I moderated last night at the Commonwealth Club of California were Ken-ichi Ueda and Scott Loarie […]

Core of the Core

July 22, 2013 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Looking out over Coyote Valley, the built environment of San Jose is visible.  I can see the literal outlines of “Silicon Valley”: buildings and “campuses” housing Genentech, IBM, AMD, Yahoo, etc. Measured by the billions of people who are virtually linked through just two of these behemoths, Google and Facebook, it’s fair to say this […]

If You Mow It, They Will Come

June 7, 2013 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Stu Weiss and I are strolling at Edgewood Park and Preserve, a bucolic swath of greenery just south of San Francisco in San Mateo County, California.  Here, Weiss and his fellow scientists from the Creekside Center for Earth Observation aid and abet the citizenry in helping to resuscitate populations of the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly and […]

The Powers that Be

May 20, 2013 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Sometimes climate change seems like a downright good idea.  The global re-boot of conditions on Earth is a take-all-prisoners phenomenon.  Confronting its challenges requires absolutely everybody into the pool.  I wondered, for example, at the sheer marvelous variety of the speakers lined up at the Bay Area Open Space Council‘s annual conference last week.  Other […]