Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Statistical Inquiry into Vincent van Gogh

July 21, 2014 | Uncategorized | Permalink

 A vegetation map models the climatic water deficit around Pepperwood Preserve over the last 30 years. (Stuart Weiss, TBC3) This is a blog adding a fillip to a piece I wrote about the TBC3 Initiative and Pepperwood Preserve in the July issue of Bay Nature. Biodiversity scientists tend to love the outdoors. Ironically, most of their work occurs […]

Dig Deeper

June 25, 2014 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Over the past couple of months I’ve been immersed in researching and writing a piece on indigenous burning practices, particularly in California.  My mind is blown! I’ve long kept tabs on the Northern California Prescribed Fire council, which is a very interesting consortium of fire ecologists, state and federal agencies, tribal members and all sorts […]

Sleeping with the Enemy

May 31, 2014 | Uncategorized | Permalink

It’s strange to see a subject you know a lot about treated by another journalist.  “Green is Good,” T.D. Max’s story mostly about The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in the May 12 New Yorker, starts out covering TNC’s current strategy to partner with big polluters to get them to mitigate in the interest of their own […]

Facts of Life

May 8, 2014 | Uncategorized | Permalink

“What is citizen science?”  I’m at my desk in San Francisco, on a conference call.  Surrounded by books and papers and a cup of cold coffee, and otherwise writing a book on what some people call “public participation in scientific research.”  Past my computer screen on the deck outside, a hummingbird zips around a passiflora.  […]

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 […]