From electronic “noses” that can detect the scent of native Australian lizards to the DNA of individual trees to acoustic devices that capture the sound of gunshots, new technologies are helping investigators track down and prosecute wildlife traffickers and poachers.
But they also raise some troubling ethical questions.
In a new article in the environmental magazine Earth Island Journal, Knight Center director Eric Freedman explores the role of scientific advances in fighting global wildlife crimes, the theft of endangered plants and illegal fishing.
In 2018, a band of poachers who had been illegally loggng in the national forest poured gasoline on a wasp nest near the base of a prime maple, set it afire, and fled when they were unable to put the flames out. The fire grew into a massive blaze that ravaged more than 3,300 acres of public land. Photo by US Forest Service-Pacific Northwest.
Knight Center director Eric Freedman is the lead author of a package of stories on the possibility of climate migrants moving to the Great Lakes region to escape forest fires of Western states, flooding along the saltwater coasts and ever-rising temperatures causing drought in different corners of the continent.
His main story for Crain’s Detroit Business, Crain’s Chicago Business and Crain’s Cleveland Business tackles the question of who may make the move and how well-prepared – or ill-prepared – Great Lakes communities are to accommodate them.
His sidebar looks at how changing environmental, social and economic climates have long fueled other migrations to the region, including settlement by European immigrants and their descendants in the 1800s and the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the factories of Detroit, Youngstown, Akron, Chicago, Gary and Cleveland in the first half of the 20th century.
By Eric Freedman
Professor Eric Freedman
These early days of 2022 are an opportune time to look back and assess last year’s press freedom environment in the United States and abroad.
It’s a troubling picture for journalists and news organizations pursuing their obligation to provide fair, balanced and accurate coverage of public affairs, to hold institutions of government and power accountable. to give voice to the voiceless and to act ethically amid a sea of misinformation and disinformation.
As the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) recently reported: “The number of journalists jailed around the world set another record in 2021. Invoking new tech and security laws, repressive regimes from Asia to Europe to Africa cracked down harshly on the independent press.”
The numbers tell a grim story: a record 293 journalists jailed because of their work – including a Michigan journalist jailed in Southeast Asia – up from 280 in 2020. At least 24 journalists killed because of their work. Another 18 dead “in circumstances too murky to determine whether they were specific targets,” according to CPJ, a U.S.-based press rights defender organization.
It’s no surprise that ultra-authoritarian regimes like those in China, Myanmar, Egypt, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Belarus appear in the top ranks – or the dark depths – of the bad guys’ roster of free speech violators. In Kazakhstan, another dictatorship, authorities detained at least eight journalists and blocked at least two news sites covering the first few days of anti-government and price hike protests in early January. Continue reading
By Rachel Duckett
In 2019, Michigan State University alum Tremaine Phillips was appointed to the three-member Public Service Commission, making him one of the country’s public service commissioners at 33 years old.
The PSC’s mission is to “serve the public by ensuring safe, reliable and accessible energy and telecommunications services at reasonable rates.”
That includes regulation of landlines, cable television and energy infrastructure. While it’s not an environmental agency, the commission oversees clean energy operations and sometimes assesses the environmental impact of existing infrastructure in its decision-making.
I spoke with him about alternative energy, protecting communities and more. Here’s our conversation, lightly edited:
What have you learned since being appointed to the commission in 2019?
I thought I knew a lot coming into this job, but it’s just made me learn and appreciate the complexity and the amount of devotion and commitment it takes to sustain all this good stuff we have going. So I never take for granted the light switch when I turn it on. Reliable energy is not a guarantee for many people across the world.
I think of the complexity and how many thousands and tens of thousands of people are waking up every day to make sure the system is safe and reliable. Continue reading