The $77 billion bug invasion

David Colgan

Ten species of invasive insect account for $77 billion in annual global economic damages, according to the first in-depth study on the subject, published today in Nature Communications. Even that estimate is extremely conservative. Author Franck Courchamp, a French conservation biologist who researched the paper as a visiting professor at UCLA, said reliable studies on…



A planetary perspective from Kathryn Sullivan, head of NOAA

David Colgan

Sullivan is Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the first American woman to walk in space. She’ll be at UCLA on October 18 to deliver the keynote speech of EARTH NOW: EARTH 2050, a massive, three-day environmental symposium at the Luskin Conference Center. I recently spoke with Sullivan to get her…



Pacific Ocean’s response to greenhouse gases extends California’s drought

Alison Hewitt

Clues from prehistoric droughts and arid periods in California show that today’s increasing greenhouse gas levels could lock the state into drought for centuries, according to a study led by UCLA professor Glen MacDonald. The study, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, looked at how natural climatic forces contributed to centuries-long and even…



A fresh water perspective from Africa

Claudia Flores

The borehole well has an electric-powered pump, so power outages also mean water outages. I had bottled water to drink, but then I realized that no power means I can’t bathe, so I panicked. Outages are common in rural Uganda. I was lucky it was my first. And it quickly occurred to me that my…



Human tales on extinction and endangered species

David Colgan

Ursula Heise was surprised by the animal’s intelligence and ability to communicate. She began observing birds and other animals in nature and thinking about their survival through the lens of her literary expertise. Twenty years later, she shares a home with three green-cheeked Amazon parrots. And she has just written Imagining Extinction—a book that explores…



Hetch Hetchy gushes over wetlands

Belinda Waymouth

A different story is unfolding at Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National Park, where water is being released to conserve and restore wildlife. In a state wracked with drought, the Hetch Hetchy is an exception to the rule. Further west, California’s chinook salmon is battling to survive in the Sacramento River, where two dams—Keswick and…