Jim Steele

About This Member:

I earned a BS Biology in 1982 and finalized my MA Biology in 1989, both from San Francisco State University. I was appointed Director of SFSU’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus by the Dean of the College of Science and Engineering in 1984 and retired as Director in 2010. In addition to administrative duties at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus, I taught university level classes in ornithology and botany, as well as serving as the Principal Investigator for the Neotropical Migratory Bird Monitoring of Riparian Habitats on the Tahoe National Forest project sponsored by the US Forest Service from 1991 to 2007.

While serving as director, I concurrently taught science in San Francisco’s underserved schools, first teaching general middle school science and then high school Advanced Placement Biology where I also developed a medical pathways program focused on teaching biotechnology and human physiology. Later I lectured the cell and molecular section of the introductory Biology for Majors course at San Francisco State University.

While serving as the Principal Investigator for the Neotropical Migratory Bird Monitoring of Riparian Habitats, to better understand the causes for a crash in bird populations at a monitored meadow I immersed myself in intensive independent studies of factors affecting landscape changes and regional climate change. This evolved into a deeper understanding of oceanography and the causes and effects of El Ninos/La Ninas and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and their effect on Sierra Nevada temperature, rainfall and snowfall as well as examining the landscape changes and hydrological changes within my research areas. Realizing it was landscape issues and not climate change that had degraded our meadows and reduced wildlife, I initiated a partnership with the EPA and US Forest Service to form the successful Carman Valley Watershed Restoration project for which I coordinated the biological monitoring activities. 

The realization that landscape changes and natural ocean cycles could account for most of the observed ecological disruptions, I began intensely investigating the evidence for other claims that disruptions in the ecology of butterflies and pika in our local region, as well as frogs, polar bears and penguins were due to global climate change. Determining that every disruption was more parsimoniously attributed to events other than climate change, I wrote the book Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism, and created the website landscapesandcycles.net on which I still post essays describing the natural and anthropogenic factors other than rising CO2 that can account for population changes and ecological disruptions.