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Robert J. Cabin
Robert J. Cabin is a professor of ecology and environmental science at Brevard College. Before returning to academia, he worked as a restoration ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service and the National Tropical Botanical Garden. His first book Intelligent Tinkering: Bridging the Gap between Science and Practice was published in 2011 by Island Press. His new book, Restoring Paradise: Rethinking and Rebuilding Nature in Hawaii was published by the University of Hawaii Press.

Entries by Robert J. Cabin

Green Light in the Southern Appalachians: How We Became the First Institution Below the Mason Dixon Line to Divest From Fossil Fuels

(0) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 3:01 PM

On February 20, Brevard College pledged to divest its endowment from fossil fuels by 2018. Our small college (I have been on the faculty here since 2005), located in the mountains of Western North Carolina, thus became the first institution of any kind in the American Southeast to...

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"Fixing" Higher Education Requires a Diversity of Assessments and Reforms

(1) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 11:00 AM

Note: This blog was conceived and written in a truly collaborative fashion with four of my colleagues at Brevard College: Megan Kaiser (education professor), Laura McDowell (music professor), John Padgett (English professor) and Charles Wallis (math professor).

There is much hand-wringing these days about how higher education...

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Scientists Urge EU To Rethink Burning Southern US Forests To Fight Climate Change

(4) Comments | Posted September 9, 2013 | 11:04 AM

A group of over 60 US scientists, including such luminaries as E. O. Wilson, Tom Lovejoy, Gretchen Daily, and Reed Noss, recently sent a letter to EU decision makers urging them to take swift action to "develop and adopt sustainability criteria and carbon accounting requirements to ensure adequate...

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Quantify This!

(11) Comments | Posted January 28, 2013 | 3:08 PM

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." Albert Einstein

A first-generation college student stays after class to talk with his professor about something he found particularly interesting, even though this topic will not be on the test. An introverted student slowly...

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Message to Fast Food Titan KFC/Yum: Yuck!

(4) Comments | Posted June 7, 2012 | 5:53 PM

Greenpeace recently discovered a key ingredient in KFC's secret recipe: Indonesian rainforest fiber. In fact, KFC's disposable packaging is driving the destruction of this critically important ecosystem, harming its people, accelerating climate change, and threatening wildlife such as the last remaining Sumatran tigers, elephants, and orangutans. Consequently, Greenpeace...

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Carbon Canopy: A Model for Solving Problems by Protecting Rather Than Destroying Our Natural Resources

(1) Comments | Posted March 1, 2012 | 6:25 PM

A consortium of forward-thinking environmental groups led by the Dogwood Alliance, major corporations such as Staples and Coca Cola, and large and small private landowners is demonstrating that even in today's tough economic times and post-post partisan political landscape, it is possible to create...

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The Environmental Consequences of Religious Scientism

(62) Comments | Posted July 22, 2011 | 9:31 AM

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." --Albert Einstein

In my previous blog I introduced the problem of scientism -- the religious-like belief that science is necessarily the best or only valid approach to learning more about the physical world...

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EPA's Decision Not to Regulate Biomass Carbon Emissions Is Another 'Clean Energy' Smokescreen

(6) Comments | Posted July 20, 2011 | 4:27 PM

Under the guise of what EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson described as "renewable, homegrown power," her agency just gave the green light to yet another destructive, unaccountable industry that unnecessarily threatens our climate, forests and health.

Earlier this month, the EPA announced that it will give biomass-burning facilities a three-year...

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Blinding Ourselves With Scientism

(116) Comments | Posted July 13, 2011 | 4:29 PM

Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion is weak, men mistake medicine for magic.

Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (1973).

I once gave a talk at a research university in which I illustrated some of...

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As Government Fails to Protect Endangered Species, One Grassroots Program Quietly Succeeds

(3) Comments | Posted June 17, 2011 | 3:27 PM

The renowned Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson once wrote that the current human-caused extinction spasm "is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us." If so, then perhaps today's unsung heroes who are preventing some of these extinctions will turn out to be the people our descendants are...

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Thank God Environmentalism Is Dead

(39) Comments | Posted May 18, 2011 | 3:55 PM

Image courtesy Roberto Rizzato at Flickr

A recent Gallup poll found "historically low levels of public worry about environmental problems," and more than a third of those polled believe the environmental movement "has done more harm than good."...

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Kill The Frogs?

(1) Comments | Posted April 26, 2011 | 8:42 PM


Feeling overwhelmed by civilization? Dreaming of getting away from it all? Before embarking on your great escape, you should know that these days we intensively manage all our "wilderness" areas, the wildlife you encounter out there will undoubtedly include exotic...

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Bird Survey Suggests If You Plant It, They Will Come

(7) Comments | Posted April 14, 2011 | 12:37 PM


The results of last month's annual Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Bird Survey indicate that birds may colonize reforested areas much faster than experts had predicted. This year's surveyors spotted all five of the common native forest birds and four endangered forest...

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World's Most Unique and Endangered Forest Needs Our Help

(7) Comments | Posted April 4, 2011 | 7:45 PM


No, it's not in Brazil or Borneo. It's actually in the good old USA, literally and figuratively clinging to a steep slope in a drainage called Mahanaloa Gulch on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. We need to stop twiddling our thumbs and...

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The Wildfires in Hawaii Are a Loss for Our World

(10) Comments | Posted March 25, 2011 | 5:31 PM

The wildfire created by the recent eruption of the Kilauea volcano on the Island of Hawaii has already burned some 2,000 acres in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to 23 species of endangered plants and 6 endangered birds. Because this fire now threatens a relatively pristine native rain forest that...

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