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Articles by Eric de Place

Eric de Place is a senior researcher at Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based sustainability think tank.

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  • 10th birthday for Yellowstone’s wolves

    Next Monday will mark precisely 10 years since wolves re-appeared in Yellowstone National Park, from where they had been absent since the 1920s. The re-introduction program was a smashing success, far exceeding even optimistic predictions.


    On March 21, 1995, federal biologists finally opened the acclimation pens holding 14 gray wolves, sometimes called timber wolves, brought from Alberta. Earlier that year an additional 14 wolves had been set free in central Idaho's mammoth wilderness. And the following year, 17 more wolves were released into Yellowstone and 20 more into Idaho.

    A decade later, Yellowstone's wolf population has grown more than five-fold and expanded into adjacent areas of Wyoming and Montana. Idaho's wolf population expanded even more spectacularly--by thirteen-fold--with an estimated 452 animals in the Gem State at last count in 2004. All told, over 850 wolves now roam the US Rocky Mountains. It's only a matter of time until they begin returning in numbers to Washington and Oregon, where they are now only rare visitors. [Click on the chart at left for state-by-state trends.]

  • Oily to rise

    Hot off the presses, crude oil futures are trading above $53 a barrel today. An Associated Press article is rife with worrisome notes. Here are some:

    "Those people who think we've entered a new paradigm where high oil prices don't affect economic growth are wrong," said Lawrence Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation in New York.

    "I believe oil prices and the economy are on a collision course and that it's only a matter of time," [Peter] Beutel added, [president of Cameron Hanover Inc. of New Canaan, Conn., a provider of petroleum market analysis].

    On the other hand, optimists point out that the US economy is drastically more energy efficient than it once was. And in inflation-adjusted terms, oil would have to reach $90 a barrel to match prices in 1980. They're (partly) right.