Misrepresentation of business-as-usual emissions: The red herring of RCP8.5

The Breakthrough Institute has been busy. Their director of climate and energy has published a critique of the use of RCP8.5 as BAU.* While it is true that many papers misinterpret RCP8.5 as being the worst case scenario and that this is equivalent to BAU, the authors of the RCPs recently reminded the climate community that RCP8.5 assumed maximum burning of coal , which is not what is … Continue reading Misrepresentation of business-as-usual emissions: The red herring of RCP8.5

Methane bubbles and other surreal observations

Recently researchers have noticed several areas where large amounts of methane are bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean. The press has quoted one of the observers as saying that this is “terrifying.” Another recent report has declared that the Arctic tundra is now a net source of carbon emissions. Perhaps. Has the Arctic passed a tipping point? Circumstantial evidence is pretty scary, but … Continue reading Methane bubbles and other surreal observations

Dorian and his family welcome you to the Anthropocene

It is obvious that all weather now occurs in a human-altered climate. Thus, the question is not if a weather event has been caused by climate change, but rather which features of that event are attributable to climate change. Attribution is a rapidly growing branch of climate science that is showing us how features of extreme weather, floods, droughts, and fires are likely connected to climate change. … Continue reading Dorian and his family welcome you to the Anthropocene

So, what do we do now that we know we are probably screwed

“The IPCC report demonstrates that it is still possible to keep the climate relatively safe, provided we muster an unprecedented level of cooperation, extraordinary speed, and heroic scale of action.”— Mario Molina. 2018. IPCC Nobel Laureate Science does not blink. The special report issued by the IPCC in October 2018 is unequivocal in its warnings. We are out of time to take action to reduce … Continue reading So, what do we do now that we know we are probably screwed

Community Adaptation in the Anthropocene

Updated 29 June 2019. A version of this appeared as a special to the Gainesville Sun on 23 September 2018.

Lake Okeechobee algae bloom caused by phosphate pollution. Taken from space July 2016. NASA Earth Observatory.

Ecological collapse in Florida is not hypothetical. It has been growing worse each year in south Florida where population pressure and the interests of agriculture have resulted in the annual recurrence of the biggest pollution catastrophe in the history of the Southeastern US. It is happening now in our springs, streams, and lakes where pollutants have disrupted the normal ecological processes that kept these bodies of water crystalline. It is happening now as political and financial interests continue to delay and derail our ability to respond to ongoing climate and ecosystem disruptions.

Continue reading “Community Adaptation in the Anthropocene”

A confluence of crises in higher education

I am preparing to give a presentation at the Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences annual meeting in Orlando in the spring. The following is an essay that will form the basis of my presentation.


Higher education is undergoing an accelerating transformation driven by financing and student demography. At the same moment in history, our species is facing rapidly cascading unprecedented crises of climate change and sustainability. Although considered by most to be part of the Public Trust, public colleges and universities are no longer funded as such. As budgets have become tighter, many states are experiencing a decline in available students. Although the challenges facing students today include traditional concerns such as preparing for a career, learning transferable skills, and getting good grades, over recent decades these changes have influenced the character and viability of the college experience. Career pathways have become more diverse, expensive, and confusing. Higher education has responded to our environmental imperative in a fitful and inconsistent manner. There are no common standards for ecological literacy. Continue reading “A confluence of crises in higher education”

It is time to panic – a lecture on climate change and sustainability

Attached is a pdf of my lecture for Monday. I will outline the case for panic and action and provide the students with a sequence of lectures for the remainder of the semester. This is for BSC2862 Global Change Ecology and Sustainability at the University of Florida. Planetary Boundaries, Regime Shifts, and Sustainability   Continue reading It is time to panic – a lecture on climate change and sustainability