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.

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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

Higher Education and the Gift of Desperation

A version of this appeared in Medium 17 July 2018. 

1_l4G88i80VlcMfTcpvkRpOQ.jpegA fully integrated complex adaptive system. Angel Oak, S. Carolina


“….. a faltering economy has raised questions in the public’s mind about the value of a college education and every revenue stream upon which institutions of higher learning depend has come under pressure.” – Drew Faust, President of Harvard 2013


 

I recently helped to conduct a workshop for a group of faculty facing large program cuts at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. UWSP will eliminate 13 majors, including English, history, philosophy, art, sociology, political science, geology, geography, Spanish, German, and French. Layoffs of tenured faculty are unavoidable and imminent. To justify the cuts, system administrators cited large budget shortfalls and falling enrollment. My colleague and I brought current thinking on curriculum design and program development to help this coalition of the willing envision a future. The situation is dire and it is legitimate to ask why upper administration had not long ago taken steps to cushion the blow of downsizing. Continue reading “Higher Education and the Gift of Desperation”

The Long Game: Facing Reality in the Environmental Century

170907084916-01-golf-wildfire-trnd-super-teaseGolfing while the mountains burn. Photo from Beacon Rock Golf Course.

Personally, I would rate the likelihood of staying under two degrees of warming as under 10 percent. – Michael Oppenheimer 2017

Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.  – Thomas Merton


Under a concrete sky on 5 November 2014, Michele and I awoke to realize that Paul LePage had been re-elected as governor of Maine. Once again, Mainers had split their votes three ways and LePage was elected by a minority of the voters to another four-year term. We were deeply disappointed because during his first term LePage had made clear his disdain for environmental concerns. Little did we know that the next few years would make LePage’s first term look like the good old days. Continue reading “The Long Game: Facing Reality in the Environmental Century”