Unlocking the “Virtual Cage” of Wildlife Surveillance
Henry Lininger & Tom Lininger
The electronic surveillance of wildlife has grown more extensive than ever. For instance, thousands of wolves wear collars transmitting signals to wildlife biologists. Some collars inject wolves with tranquilizers that allow for their immediate capture if they stray outside of the boundaries set by anthropocentric management policies. Hunters have intercepted the signals from surveillance collars and have used this information to track and slaughter the animals. While the ostensible reason for the surveillance programs is to facilitate the peaceful coexistence of humanity and wildlife, the reality is less benign—an outdoor version of Bentham’s Panopticon.
This Article reconceptualizes the enterprise of wildlife surveillance. Without suggesting that animals have standing to assert constitutional rights, the Article posits a public interest in protecting the privacy of wildlife. The very notion of wildness implies privacy. The law already protects the bodily integrity of animals to some degree, and a protected zone of privacy is penumbral to this core protection, much the same way that human privacy emanates from narrower guarantees against government intrusion.
Policy implications follow that are akin to the rules under the Fourth Amendment limiting the government’s encroachment on human privacy. Just as the police cannot install a wiretap without demonstrating a particularized investigative need for which all less intrusive methods would be insufficient, so too should surveillance of wildlife necessitate a specific showing of urgency. A detached, neutral authority should review all applications for electronic monitoring of wildlife. Violati ons of the rules should result in substantial sanctions. The Article concludes by considering—and refuting—foreseeable objections to heightened requirements for the surveillance of wildlife.
Modern energy policy aims to ratchet up the manufacture and use of biofuels, i.e. any fuel produced from biological materials. Yet biofuels derived from agricultural crops and residues, wood, forest residues, or other kinds of plant-based biomass feedstocks can be as environmentally and socially devastating as the finite fossil fuel resources they seek to replace. Often overlooked are their globalization impacts on land grabs, food security, greenhouse gas emissions, drought, deforestation, interference with climate change adaption measures, population displacement, desertification, sea level rise, biodiversity, and scalability. These environmental and social consequences result in food shortages, violent conflicts, urban riots, rural protests, and rising food costs. There is, however, hope for biofuels. Certain other types of biofuels, known collectively as second generation biofuels, are a more suitable alternative for global and regional energy needs because of their availability as well as their significantly reduced public health, environmental, and climate change impacts on society. These new biofuels are derived from algae, seaweed, food waste, and other plant and animal residues.
While these biofuels are a more appropriate replacement for fossil fuels than first generation biofuels, they too carry with them potentially significant impacts. Therefore, a cautionary analysis of regulatory and governance regimes for second generation bio¬¬fuels is critical for improving innovation and investment for this energy resource. To that effect, I provide an inquiry into biofuel law and policy through the theoretical framework of science, technology, society, and the environment (STSE) to assess the hurried development of biofuels and how this biofuel gold rush has had adverse social, economic, and environmental consequences globally. This article concludes with two correlative policy interventions to counter the negative consequences of conventional forest- and agriculturally-based biofuels. First, I question the environmental efficacy of all biofuels as clean energy as defined by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), including those derived from natural resources that compete with food and timber supplies.). Second, I argue that the more stringent Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), as implemented in California and British Columbia, would provide better social and environmental outcomes as a part of the national energy policy plan.
Globally, the shark population is under extreme stress, primarily due to the rise of China and a growing middle class with a taste for a cultural dish: shark fin soup. Sharks play an important ecologic role and can be extremely beneficial to the local economy. They can also be an important food source for people if harvested sustainably and not in a manner that challenges the morality of humans’ relationship with the ocean; something the current shark finning practices do. Approaches to sustainable shark fishing at the international and domestic level have met some success. Even so, China and Hong Kong have become major markets for shark fins. Because of economic prowess and experience in shark finning regulatory schemes, the U.S. and EU are in a unique position to induce China to draft a similar set of rules and policies through a series of incentives. These rules would look similar to the ones in the U.S. and EU and would ban shark finning, only allowing the landings of fully intact sharks. This strategy could provide much needed relief to global shark populations. While challenges to implement this may arise from Hong Kong, the WTO and Japan, there are still pathways to successful implementation.