ES Fall Colloquia 2008
Environmental Studies Lunchtime Colloquia
Fall 2008Lunchtime Colloquia are the following Wednesdays in the Fairchild Room in Dana from 12:00 – 12:50.
“The Dangers of Environmental Parables”
Felicity Barringer, NY Times environmental reporter, Elijah Parish Lovejoy Visiting Journalist-in-Residence
“ES Students Return with Tales from Summer Internships”
Tucker Gorman ‘10, Sarah Sorenson ‘11, and Lia d’Hemecourt ‘11 n
“Making Maine’s Environment a Political Priority”
Maureen Drouin, Executive Director of the Maine League of Conservation Voters
Ms Drouin will discuss Maine’s extraordinary environment as the foundation of our health, our jobs, and our identity, both as individuals and as a state. Our clean water, clean air, and natural beauty sustain much of our economic base. How Maine is changing rapidly, and its natural heritage, economy and sense of place are all at risk. Sprawling development patterns degrade wildlife habitat and our quality of life. Skyrocketing energy costs challenge us to develop renewable power sources and increase energy efficiency. Global warming will change our lives and the state in innumerable ways.
As Executive Director of the Maine League of Conservation Voters, Maureen makes protection of our environment a political priority. Before coming to MLCV, Maureen was the Northeast Regional Representative – Manager for the Sierra Club in Portland where she advanced conservation at the state, regional, and federal levels. Maureen has worked for National Audubon Society on their Wildlife Refuge Campaign and served as Regional Outreach Director for the Northern Forest Alliance. She graduated with honors from Bowdoin College with a coordinate major in Geology and Environmental Studies and completed a one-year fellowship program with Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizing.
“Renewable Energy and the Small Business”
Scott Cowger, Owner of the Maple Hill Farm B&B, which has been awarded with Maine's first "Environmental Leader" Green Lodging Inn Certification by the Maine DEP.
“Negotiating Adaptive International Institutions for Transboundary River Governance”
Catherine Ashcraft, Visiting Professor of Environmental Studies and Government
Catherine’s research and teaching focus on negotiation processes and institutions for making environmental policy. At Colby, she teaches courses on environmental negotiation and dispute resolution, international environmental regimes, and transboundary environmental governance. Catherine’s research focuses on adaptability and flexibility of international water management institutions. She recently co-authored a book chapter with Lawrence Susskind in the forthcoming IUCN publication Negotiate, How to Reach Fairer and More Sustainable Agreements that draws insights from a number of international water negotiations. Catherine consults with the Consensus Building Institute and works with partners in intergovernmental organizations, multilateral development agencies and civil society in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America to build negotiating skills and to help address environmental and development problems. She is also a certified mediator with the Harvard Mediation Program. Catherine will earn her PhD from MIT in 2008. She earned her Master of Environmental Science in 2002 from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and her B.A. in 1998 from the University of Pennsylvania. Catherine holds dual citizenship in the USA and the European Union (Germany)
‘The State as a criminal enterprise’: a survey of illegal logging in tropical forested countries”
Janette Bulkan, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in International Human Rights
The bulk of forestlands in tropical forested countries are State Forests, not privately owned. It is the State that issues and supervises forest concessions, and so it is almost impossible for illegal logging to take place on a large scale without the connivance of State agents or agencies, and their political masters. This is because forest logs (and forest-sawn timber) are heavy and bulky and their transport to processors and markets cannot be concealed easily; unlike diamonds, gold or plutonium. All the way along the market chain, from tree stump to consumer, people must be induced to keep their eyes averted. This is the State in passive mode, neglecting to enforce its own policies, strategies, laws, regulations and procedures.
But what of the State in active mode, where elected and non-elected politicians, ministries, government departments and agencies are directly involved in promoting illegal logging? Until quite recently (the East Asia FLEG Ministerial Conference in Bali in September 2001), governments of timber producing countries would flatly deny that they were involved actively or passively in illegal logging. The 2001 Bali meeting was the first time that governments (such as Indonesia) frankly admitted that illegal logging was rife, that indeed a majority of timber in the natural forests was felled illegally, and that government agencies had been involved systematically, on a large scale and over a long time. That admission did not in itself result in any curbs on illegal felling or international trade in illegally harvested timber, but it provided environmental NGOs and other responsibly minded stakeholders with a basis for working together towards reducing forest crime. These stakeholders included government agencies in both producer and consumer countries and the private sector.
Nevertheless, illegal logging remains hugely profitable. Logs with a value of US$ 120 per cubic meter at export may be valued at US$ 550 per cubic meter when landed in a port on the other side of the world, although ocean freight and insurance may cost only US$ 130 per cubic meter. So there is a clear undeclared illegal profit of US$ 300 per cubic meter through Customs fraud alone. When an ocean-going log ship may carry 10,000 cubic meters, that fraud pays for a lot of bribes.
Her talk will explain how this and other forest crimes are carried out by and through government agencies, by what kinds of people, and why forest criminals will fight to sustain their illegal work as hard as reformers will fight to stop them.
Janette Bulkan is a doctoral candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Her dissertation focuses on the slippages between forestry policies and practices in Guyana. Before going to Yale, Janette Bulkan was the senior social scientist at the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development in Guyana (2000-2003), senior lecturer at the University of Guyana (1985-2000), and First Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana (1978-83). She has two decades of work experience with indigenous peoples and local communities in Guyana.
Evening Lectures on the following Tuesdays at 7:00 pm in Olin 1
"Who Cares if Bangladesh Drowns? (The Politics of Climate Change)"
Afsan Chowdhury, 2008 Oak Institute for the Study of International Human Rights Fellow
Afsan' work has focused on a number of issues including sex education (for which he was named an Ashoka Fellow), sexual abuse, AIDS/STD awareness, children's rights, refugee rights, minority identity, media rights, and, most recently, environmental rights. He has written books on human rights as well as numerous newspaper and journal articles. Most recently Chowdhury worked as a director of advocacy and human rights for BRAC, the world's largest NGO. His latest work to receive critical acclaim is a documentary film about climate change, Who Cares if Bangladesh Drowns?
“Boots on the ground: Lessons from renewable energy development in SE Asia, from concept to contract”
Gijsbert Nollen, Principal Consultant, ICE BV
Mr. Gijsbert Nollen holds a Masters in Law from Leiden University, and now focuses on project management and development as his professional specialty. He has ten years of work experience in Asia, seven of which were with ICE BV in Sri Lanka, where he headed and directed the local office and projects. Gijsbert is inspired by a wide range of varying interests and opinion that drive his passion to advance sustainable development causes.
“Maroon and Gold and Green: Moving one of the nation’s largest universities toward sustainability”
Jonathan Fink, Director for the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University
Jonathan Fink is Director of Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and University Sustainability Officer in the Office of the President. He is ASU’s lead strategist for developing a comprehensive, university-wide approach to issues of global sustainability, which includes overseeing the nation’s first degree-granting School of Sustainability and a set of programs designed to help make the university’s business practices more environmentally and socially responsible.
Prior to taking over ASU’s sustainability portfolio in July 2007, Dr. Fink served for ten years as vice president for research and economic affairs, and before that he was chairman of ASU's Geology Department, where he has been a faculty member since 1982. In 1992-93 he was Director of the Geochemistry and Petrology Program at the National Science Foundation.
“Mercury Exposure in Terrestrial Birds”
Scott Freiedman, ’00 Environmental Scientist and Ecotoxicologist
Scott received a Bachelors degree in biology in 2000 from Colby College and a Masters degree, also in biology, in 2007 from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Prior to starting graduate school, he worked for the Bronx Zoo as a Wild Animal Keeper. Currently Scott is working for a consulting firm in Massachusetts, Coneco Engineers and Scientists. Originally from Larchmont, New York, he now resides in Charlestown, Massachusetts with his girlfriend, Melissa Bradbury, who is also a member of the Colby College class of 2000.
Mercury is a persistent global pollutant and is known to have adverse effects on humans and wildlife. Traditionally, research on mercury pollution has concentrated on fish and fish-eating species. From 1930 to1950, the South River in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia was polluted with mercury by an industrial source. We recently showed that terrestrial foraging songbirds nesting along the South River are also at risk of bioaccumulating mercury. To accomplish this, we compared the blood mercury levels of songbirds caught within 50 m of the contaminated South River to aquatic foraging birds and a reference population. Finding that terrestrial feeding songbirds were also accumulating mercury was novel and warranted the question: through which prey items were terrestrial birds accumulating mercury? To determine this, we studied the diets of Carolina wrens, house wrens, and eastern bluebirds, nesting along the South River and at the reference sites. To ascertain their diet we used the ligature method to collect prey items gathered by adults and delivered to their nestlings. The diets of all three species consisted primarily of spiders, caterpillars, crickets, and beetles. All three species ate diets consisting of approximately 25% spider biomass. Spiders, being predators, sit atop food chains and thus potentially biomagnify mercury. Consistent with this hypothesis, we found that the majority of the mercury ingested by wrens and bluebirds came from spiders. The extent to which point source mercury in this river is transferred to adjacent terrestrial food webs through biological or hydrological processes was unknown until our recent discovery. Our findings have implications for the health of unstudied terrestrial ecosystems bordering mercury-contaminated rivers worldwide.
“Biodiversity: Buzzword or Fundamental Concept”
Mac Hunter, Professor of Wildlife Biology, University of Maine Orono
It is easy to define biodiversity conceptually, e.g. "the diversity of all forms of life at all levels of organization," and such definitions clearly imply that biodiversity includes plants, animals, and microbes at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level of classification. Unfortunately attempts to define biodiversity with quantitative indices are not so straightforward and can often lead conservationists into misguided attempts to maximize biodiversity by increasing species richness. The goal of conservationists should be to maintain natural assemblages of species, or in cases where ecosystems have been degraded, to restore natural assemblages of species. But the question remains, how can this be done efficiently.
Malcolm "Mac" Hunter is the Libra Professor of Conservation Biology in the Department of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Maine. A native of Damariscotta Maine, he earned his B.S. in Wildlife Science at UMaine in 1974 then went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar where he received his Ph. D in Zoology. He joined the UMaine faculty in 1978 and has pursued research on a wide range of organisms and ecosystems--birds, plants, mammals, amphibians, lakes, peatlands, grasslands, and especially forests. He has produced six books, most recently: “Fundamentals of conservation biology” and “Saving the Earth as a career.” His interests are also geographically broad; he has worked in over 25 countries, mainly in Africa and the Himalayas. He has served in many public service roles such as the Governor’s Council on Sustainable Forest Management and as President of the Society for Conservation Biology, a professional organization with 13,000 members in 140 countries.