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Articles by John McQuaid

John McQuaid is a journalist specializing in science, environment, and various forms of government dysfunction. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Smithsonian, Slate, U.S. News, Wired, and Mother Jones, among other publications. His reporting at the New Orleans Times-Picayune won shares in three Pulitzer Prizes. He is also the co-author of "Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms."

Featured Article

If the the future of food is hazy right now due to overconsumption, globalization, and climate change, the future of seafood is even murkier. The global fish catch topped out sometime in the 1990s, leaving many fish populations more or less permanently overstressed. Aquaculture has grown to satisfy rising global demand – but fish farms have brought environmental devastation to many a coastal zone.

Is the answer to pack up those coastal operations and move fish farming offshore? That’s the question I attempt to answer in this Yale Environment 360 piece. I started out with the assumption that, whatever the environmental hazards, a big move into deeper waters is inevitable someday – the economic and political pressures pointing in that direction, now weak in the United States and elsewhere, are only going to rise as the world’s demand for protein goes up.

And, on the surface anyway, offshore aquaculture is promising. The entrepreneurs and advocates I talked to seemed environmentally responsible and thoughtful. If you locate a fish farm in deep water (employing large pens or cages designed to withstand the stress of the open ocean), many of the ... Read more

All Articles

  • Down the bureaucratic rabbit hole with the Corps of Engineers

    In a post last week on the bureaucratic inflighting over Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts, I took a “the system’s broken” point of view. Chris Macaluso, a spokesman for the state’s coastal restoration efforts, sent me an email that elaborates on some of the ways the system is broken. The state government — which ought to […]

  • Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts hit a costly snag

    It seems that in the fraying marshes of southern Louisiana, we can’t afford to maintain both shipping and coastal restoration at the same time. Louisiana’s biggest freshwater diversion project — essentially, a set of gates in the Mississippi River levees that let river water to flow over marshlands, depositing much-needed silt — must be closed […]

  • How did so much water get into a New Orleans canal?

    Here’s a question I’d like to know the answer to. Hurricane Gustav dealt New Orleans a glancing blow, passing it by to the west. Yet as the world saw, the city’s Industrial Canal — a large ship channel running north-south close to neighborhoods — filled nearly to the top, and there was some alarming, if […]