Darci Palmquist

Darci Palmquist

Darci Palmquist is a senior science writer for The Nature Conservancy. Previously she served as editorial manager for nature.org, the website of The Nature Conservancy, as well as for the Conservancy's e-newsletter. She is based in Amherst, Massachusetts.



Darci's Posts

The Future of Energy in a World of 400ppm and Rising

When you think of the future of energy, do you think of hillsides blanketed with wind turbines, cars powered by batteries instead of gas, and solar-powered office buildings?

If none of that sounds futuristic enough for you — where are the flying cars, bioengineered “living” cities fed by the sun and algae-powered lights? — that’s because it really isn’t.

The future of clean energy technology is already here, according to Dan Kammen, Jigar Shah and Joe Fargione — panelists at The Nature Conservancy’s “Future of Nature” forum on energy held Monday, May 13 in Boston. These experts — representing academia, business and conservation — agreed: The world has all the technology we need for a clean energy future. The challenge is implementing it at scales that can make a difference for controlling the global greenhouse gas emissions caused by energy production.

And we need this now more than ever. Last week, scientists measured 400ppm of CO2 in Earth’s air — a level that hasn’t existed in millions of years, before humans were around. With the global population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050 and no uniformed effort to control emissions in sight, CO2 measures will likely surpass the 400ppm marker very soon.

Moderator Anthony Brooks of Boston radio station WBUR — a co-sponsor of the event — asked the panelists: Can renewable energies help make a dent in climate change while still meeting our energy needs? Here’s what they had to say.

Posted In: Climate Change, Energy
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New Study: Marine Protection Goals Are on Target, But Still Not Enough

According to a new report led by Nature Conservancy scientists and policy experts, the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) has increased fivefold in the last 10 years and the world is actually on track to meet its goal of protecting 10% of the oceans by 2020.

Sounds like something to shout from the rooftops, right? Not quite, say the authors. Instead, they want the marine conservation community to see this as an opportunity for reassessment: A call-to-action to step up and look beyond the numbers.

“It’s certainly progress and we should celebrate that,” says Mark Spalding, a Conservancy marine scientist and lead author on the report. “But there’s a lot of nuance behind these targets. More than that, is 10% really what we should be fixated on?”

The study — developed in conjunction with the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and published in the Ocean Yearbook — assessed the state of ocean protection efforts to date and provides recommendations for how to achieve real success for the future. The authors reviewed 10,280 MPAs, covering 8.3 million square kilometers or 2.3% of the world’s ocean area, and found:

Posted In: Marine, Science
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Discovery: New Cave Fish Species Sees “Light of Day”

Deep inside a remote cave in northern Vietnam, Craig Leisher aimed his headlamp at the water. Several small, strange-looking fish flashed by. He readied his butterfly net and quickly tried to scoop one up but missed. He tried again.

Leisher eventually caught four species of fish. Further analysis revealed that two species were already known to science, one was a new species and one was a mystery.

The new species, Schistura mobbsi, has no eyes, no pigmentation and a limited ability to sense motion. It is a type of loach — a river-dwelling genus that includes both subterranean and above-ground species.

Leisher and ichthyologist Maurice Kottelat recently published the discovery in Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwaters … 10 years after the fact.

Why did it take 10 years for Schistura mobbsi to make its public appearance in the scientific literature?

Let’s re-wind.

Posted In: Exploration, Fish, Science
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Heather Tallis Becomes Lead Scientist at The Nature Conservancy

Heather Tallis, one of the world’s foremost analysts of the connections between nature and human well-being, has agreed to join The Nature Conservancy as lead scientist.

Tallis, 36, will become the first woman to serve as lead scientist in the Conservancy’s history. She joins M. Sanjayan as one of two lead scientists for the organization.

“Heather brings incredible expertise in understanding and measuring how conservation impacts people,” says Peter Kareiva, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy. “She will be leading new efforts that conservation desperately needs — a scientific focus on how our work can both improve human well-being while also protecting biodiversity.”

Tallis comes to the Conservancy from her position as lead scientist for the Natural Capital Project, a path-breaking scientific collaboration based at Stanford University that seeks to understand and measure the economic values of nature. Measuring these ecosystem services — the benefits that nature provide people in the form of clean water, fertile soil, clean air and much more — has become increasingly important as human activity stresses natural resources and extreme weather events push communities to consider how healthy nature can buffer and protect us.

Posted In: Science
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Forest Dilemmas

Too many deer. Logging one tree to save another. Beavers versus old growth. Welcome to forest conservation in the Anthropocene. Beginning Monday, July 21, join us for a provocative 5-part series exploring the full complexity facing forest conservation in the eastern United States.

What is Cool Green Science?

noun 1. Blog where Nature Conservancy scientists, science writers and external experts discuss and debate how conservation can meet the challenges of a 9 billion + planet.

2. Blog with astonishing photos, videos and dispatches of Nature Conservancy science in the field.

3. Home of Weird Nature, The Cooler, Quick Study, Traveling Naturalist and other amazing features.

Cool Green Science is managed by Matt Miller, the Conservancy's deputy director for science communications, and edited by Bob Lalasz, its director of science communications. Email us your feedback.

Innovative Science

Investing in Seagrass
Marine scientists and fishers alike know that grass beds are valuable as nursery habitat. A new Conservancy-funded study puts a number to it.

Drones Aid Bird Conservation
How can California conservationists accurately count thousands of cranes? Enter a new tool in bird monitoring: the drone.

Creating a Climate-Smart Agriculture
Can farmers globally both adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change? A new paper answers with a definitive yes. But it won't be easy.

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