Despite being halfway around the world amidst so much political turmoil at home in the US, I've tried to stay abreast of what's cooking. As you are probably already aware, dear reader, today's US news is filled with much hand-wringing over what the new president-elect is going to do about immigration, the war in Syria, Russia, and the Affordable Care Act. But farm and food policy and related environmental regulations need to stay on our radar as well. There will be a new Farm Bill in 2018, which covers both farm subsidies and food stamps. School lunch reforms, nutrition standards, farmworkers and EPA regulation under the Clean Water Act may also be up for debate. NPR's "The Salt" posted an article yesterday called "Big Battles Over Farm And Food Policies May Be Breweing as Trump Era Begins." It gives more detail on these issues. Click on the button below to go to the article.
We also recommend the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Think Forward blog for more in depth coverage.
Here's an article posted by my home department at MSU, Integrative Biology, about the award.
Living in Michigan, I've been following the Flint water crisis closely. I'm looking forward to watching a televised and webcast talk by Professor Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech tomorrow. He is an expert in urban water supply safety and has led the research uncovering the lead contamination of Flint residents' drinking water. You can watch live from 2 to 4pm tomorrow (Thurs. Feb. 25) online here http://tv.wkar.org/live-webcast/. The title of his talk is "How Jonathan Baldwin Turner Saved Flint, Mich.: Public-Inspired Science and the Modern Land-Grant University."
Just because US news these days are consumed with polls and predictions for primaries, doesn't mean AGua has nothing to say! Today is the first primary, and it's in Iowa. So I wanted to pass along a great perspective piece from the Union of Concerned Scientists about how we can reform agricultural policy (especially crop insurance) to save farmers money, protect the environment, and re-build soil health.
When you talk about job prospects with PhD students these days the conversation usually centers on the dearth of tenure track professor openings and the over-abundance of qualified PhDs for each opening. But this past December's Paris climate deal means nations who signed the agreement need to develop (or continue to improve) greenhouse gas inventories...
Migrating from my AGua blogua's former wordpress home to this site. I'll be posting an archive of old posts from the previous site here, too...
Re-posted from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, written by Ben Lilliston. Original title “What’s wrong with ‘climate smart’ agriculture?” Link to original article here.
One year after it was launched at the UN Climate Summit in New York, the controversial Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA) is at the center of an emerging international debate. Last week, more than 350 civil society organizations from around the world urged global decision-makers to oppose GACSA, charging that the initiative opens the door for agribusiness greenwashing while undermining agroecological solutions to climate change.
It’s been a busy summer here at the Kellogg Biological Station: I’ve mentored my first undergraduate summer intern (paying it forward for all the mentorship I’ve received); learned how to measure carbonate content and phosphorus fractions in soils; collected several hundred soil porewater samples; and, hey, our softball team even won a few games. Today I thought I’d update you with a few news stories I have my eye on.
What is the water-energy nexus? No, it’s not water energy voodoo. The water-energy nexus is, basically, the way water management and energy supply and demand affect each other, their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, and the development of sustainable solutions that integrate efficient use of both. At present we treat water management and energy generation as separate issues. But *reality check* they are intimately interwoven throughout their extraction/production, treatment, distribution, end use, and waste.
As an Appalachian, I have thought a lot about coal, and one of my biggest concerns over the last eight years or so has been: when we do transition to renewable energy and away from fossil fuels, don’t we owe it to places like West Virginia and eastern Kentucky to create clean energy jobs there? Central Appalachia has been ravaged by coal extraction in many dimensions—public health, environmental damages, and economic losses. So in the future when we finally turn our backs on coal for good (or run out, whichever comes first), we will also be turning our backs on the people who live there.
It’s been a quiet few months on AGua blogua, but I have a pretty good excuse–I passed my PhD comprehensive exams in December! To make up for the posting paucity, here’s the big debut of a video explaining what I’m working on. A big thanks to Lucas Hamilton, who filmed and edited it! I made the video specifically for the NSF GK-12 program at the Kellogg Biological Station, but I think it might be appealing to a wider audience. I hope you enjoy it:
The price of water is a touchy subject in a state like Michigan, where folks’ water bills account only for the access and treatment of water–not for the water itself as a commodity. As population grows and climate change makes water availability more variable, there is a growing need to stretch water resources further.
Groundwater is showing up more and more in US headlines. Here are two news stories that caught my eye with interesting parallels to current (or future?) groundwater regulation in Michigan.
If your high school asked you to come back and be the guest speaker at commencement, what would you say? Well, here’s what I came up with for Marion Center Area High School’s class of 2014.
Yes, Durham. What used to be considered the armpit of “The Triangle” (Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham) has re-gentrified and transmogrified its way into a food-centric, community-minded mecca. I lived there for five years and fell in love with my neighbors (shout out to my Old West Durham peeps), the community (things like the Durham Literacy Center, SEEDS, and the Scrap Exchange), and the beautiful landscape. The Durham County Library system has received attention recently for developing a seed library in addition to the stacks of those heavy, paper thingies…oh yeah, books (just kidding, I love real books). Library patrons will be able to sign out a packet of seeds and “return” them by saving seeds from their harvest in the fall. This epitomizes the culture of Durham that helped spark my interest in food as an ecologist and a human being. That and I’ve been feeling a little homesick for it lately, so I decided to tell you all about why it’s so special.
…My senator, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), admirably led the charge in developing the 2014 Farm Bill, which reflects Americans’ changing taste for more sustainably raised food. It brings new crop insurance protections to tart cherry growers (and other fruit and veggie growers) who formerly did not qualify for the insurance.
The first interaction I ever had with Dr. Palmer was at a science conference where she was the keynote speaker. During the Q&A, I raised my hand and introduced my question by saying, “Long time listener, first time caller…”
As a follow-up to the previous post, I wanted to share an excellent NYTimes article published yesterday that also asks, “What’s a scientist to do?” but this one is regarding climate change. (Thanks to the AGua reader who passed this along.) Here's a quote:
Last month Kalamazoo River watchdogs presented startling stories that the river is loaded with tar balls, resulting from the oil spill back in 2010. As testimonial, videos, and photos emerged online, several fact-checking reporters turned to professor of ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry, Dr. Stephen K. Hamilton of the Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University (and, full disclosure, he’s my graduate advisor). Faster than I can say “biogeochemistry”, some of Steve’s comments were picked up and mis-quoted on other web sites.
The who, what, when, where and why of agricultural water issues.