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 following is shared with permission from AGua's friend Josh Kearns’ blog “Busy, busy, busy”:I continue to be troubled by what I hear in the media, at conferences, in university lecture halls, etc. with respect to what basically amounts to the promotion of “sustainable growth.”
You can’t have economic growth forever on a finite planet, resource substitution and other measures of technological development notwithstanding.
Here is a must-see for AGua readers: A NYTimes Op-Ed by Thomas Friedman. In this piece, Friedman explores “the parallel between how fossil fuels are being used to power monoculture farms in the Middle West and how fossil fuels are being used to power wars to create monoculture societies in the Middle East. And why both are really unhealthy for their commons.” Friedman makes these connections with help from Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute and long time AGua hero.
"The poisoning caused by artisanal mining from a gold rush killed at least 400 children, yet villagers still say they would rather die of lead poisoning than poverty…Villagers make 10 times as much money mining as they do from farming in an area suffering erratic rainfall because of climate change.”–Simba Tirima, environmental scientist & field operations director in Nigeria for TerraGraphics International Foundation.
Let’s step away from agriculture for a moment to have a look at energy. But really, if you’re doing your homework, you know that industrial agriculture does not solely rely on energy from the sun to power photosynthesis, rather it is heavily dependent on fossil fuels for machinery, fertilizer, biocides, seeds, etc.
Check out my guest posting on the Kellogg Biological Station Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) blog: http://lter.kbs.msu.edu/2013/04/gi-normous-global-issues-one-little-person-and-a-community-of-collaboration/
A new article published in the highly respected scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) reports on a “perfect storm” of conditions ripe for microbes to develop antibiotic resistant genes in Chinese hog factory farms (1).
Jim Hansen was one of the first scientists to speak out about climate change and has devoted much energy since to raising awareness. In this quick video from Andrew Revkin’s Dot Earth blog for the NY Times, Jim Hansen discusses climate change in terms of “loaded dice”, what is needed from US policy makers, the role of coal, and the importance of developed nations’ responsibility for historical CO2 emissions.
The following are excerpts from an excellent blog post written by Bill Krasean on Michigan State University’s W.K. Kellogg Biological Station Long Term Ecological Research blog. Read the entire post here.
"If computer models of changing climate are accurate — and they get better all the time — Michigan’s weather in less than a century may be similar to Oklahoma’s today.
As I’ve learned more about industrial agriculture (here I mean post-mechanized tractor, ~1918), I’ve realized how its evolution mirrors that of Henry Ford’s assembly line, which debuted in 1913. Farms got bigger as farmers could plow more land with their John Deere than they ever could with their team of horses. Let’s compare time to plow one acre in 1920:
Click on the photo to go to a photo essay by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It depicts how water-related climate change issues–rising sea level, tidal surges, drought, and river erosion–threaten the livelihood of subsistence farmers in the low-lying delta region of Bangladesh.