Showing posts from January, 2015

Asymmetric Delusions and Pragmatism

Sometimes I joke that to conservatives, the solution to every problem is to cut taxes; to liberals, the solution to every problem is to eat local.  Of course, purported panaceas on both the left and right are snake oil, even if peddled by true believers. So, the other day I picked on my own tribe: foodies.  To be frank, I have a love-hate relationship with the movement.  It has thin and oftentimes paranoid underpinnings.  But while a lot of things advocated by the movement are illogical or scientifically baseless (like the dangers of GMOs), the movement also strikes me as mostly harmless, and sometimes even beneficial.  There are some important and disastrous exceptions, like the movement to kill  golden rice,  which could save the lives of millions and save millions more from blindness. But for the most part, the movement to "eat local," and all it's offspring, doesn't strike me as particularly harmful.   Here in Hawai'i there are delusional ideas that we

Food Waste Delusions

A couple months ago the New York Times convened a conference " Food for Tomorrow: Farm Better. Eat Better. Feed the World ."  Keynotes predictably included Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan.  It featured many food movement activists, famous chefs, and a whole lot of journalists. Folks talked about how we need to farm more sustainably, waste less food, eat more healthfully and get policies in place that stop subsidizing unhealthy food and instead subsidize healthy food like broccoli. Sounds good, yes? If you're reading this, I gather you're familiar with the usual refrain of the food movement.  They rail against GMOs, large farms, processed foods, horrid conditions in confined livestock operations, and so on.  They rally in favor of small local farms who grow food organically, free-range antibiotic free livestock, diversified farms, etc.  These are yuppies who, like me, like to shop at Whole Foods and frequent farmers' markets.   This has been a remarkabl

The Hottest Year on Record, But Not in the Corn Belt

Here's  Justin Gillis  in his usual fine reporting of climate issues, and the map below from NOAA, via the New York Times. Note the "warming hole" over the Eastern U.S., especially the upper Midwest, the all important corn belt region.  We had a bumper crop this year, and that's because while most of the world was remarkably warm, the corn belt was remarkably cool, especially in summer. Should we expect the good fortune to continue?  I honestly don't know...

Searching for critical thresholds in temperature effects

Update 2: Okay, I think it's fixed. Update:  I just realized the code posted badly.  I don't know why.  It looks good in the cross-post at G-FEED .  I'll try to fix. If google scholar is any guide, my 2009 paper with Wolfram Schlenker on the nonlinear effects of temperature on crop outcomes has had more impact than anything else I've been involved with. A funny thing about that paper: Many reference it, and often claim that they are using techniques that follow that paper.  But in the end, as far as I can tell, very few seem to actually have read through the finer details of that paper or try to implement the techniques in other settings.  Granted, people have done similar things that seem inspired by that paper, but not quite the same.  Either our explication was too ambiguous or people don't have the patience to fully carry out the technique, so they take shortcuts.  Here I'm going to try to make it easier for folks to do the real thing. So, how