The drought parching the Midwest is raising serious questions about our agriculture and energy policies. Stocks of corn in storage were already low, and the intense dryness and heat means this year’s crop will be much smaller than was expected even a few months back. The share of the corn crop going to make ethanol has been rising, and was 40 percent last year, heightening tensions over how this year’s suddenly diminished harvest will be divvied up (the principal uses are ethanol, animal feed, and exports). Read More
August 2nd, 2012
August 1st, 2012
The Midwest drought continues to intensify. As you can see in this animation of how the 2012 drought has spread and deepened over the past 12 weeks, we’re witnessing a major climate impact on our agricultural system that is leading to record corn and soybean prices, among other significant and costly consequences. Lately I’ve started considering the potential long-run impact of this drought on the region and on the entire structure of U.S. agriculture. Read More
July 26th, 2012
One of my role models, Dr. Bunson Honeydew, began each episode of the seminal series, Muppet Labs, by proclaiming, “Muppet Labs, where the future is being made today.” Although society is still waiting for edible paperclips, electrical nose warmers, or magnetic carrots, the future is indeed being made today in the cellulosic biofuel industry. Read More
June 29th, 2012
This week provided 4 important reminders of why we need standards that require the auto industry to build cleaner, more fuel efficient cars and trucks and the benefits these standards will bring for our health, economy and environment. Read More
June 20th, 2012
In less than 36 hours, Congress will once again be voting on your health.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives will consider HR 4480 – Domestic Energy and Jobs Act – or DEJA. It’s aptly named, because as Yogi Berra would say, it certainly feels like “deja-vu all over again” – with fossil fuel lobbyists and their Congressional allies once again attempting to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency by using false claims about the impacts that future standards could have on gas prices. Read More
May 11th, 2012
I just got the very sad news that a former colleague died last week. I only had the pleasure of working with him for a year, but it has hit me square in the chest. Steve was a very special soul. His caring, funny, and passionate nature was immediately obvious from the day I met him. When the world loses a light, especially one so bright, how can it not darken the mind, body, and soul? Read More
May 11th, 2012
When I was young, my mother used to tell me to eat all my dinner and would remind me that there were hungry children who would be happy to have what I was leaving on my plate. I’m sure lots of you heard the same thing. And if you were like me, it may have been the first time you actually doubted your parents’ wisdom, since it was obvious that whether I cleaned my plate or not, there was no way that the food would go to those hungry children. It would end up in the garbage, or at best in a plastic container for me to eat the next day. But it certainly wouldn’t feed the hungry.
April 27th, 2012
Weekends are a great time to unwind from the stress of the work week and indulge in a little conspiracy theorizing. Last Saturday I sat down to read the New York Times and learned the latest details about the until-recently covert operations of the American Legislative Exchange Council. This is the conservative consortium of legislative ghostwriters made infamous for their role in drafting “Stand Your Ground” laws like the ones implicated in the Trayvon Martin case. Read More
April 20th, 2012
What do these two things have to do with each other? The connection is palm oil, which is a major threat to tropical forests. This week brought important developments on both fronts: a whirlwind visit to political leaders in Washington by the two Girl Scouts who are leading the campaign to make Girl Scout cookies deforestation-free, and a scientific paper showing just why their work is so important — not just for orangutans, but for global warming as well.
March 26th, 2012
“Then we needed steel for our vessels, but were getting all of the steel from the UK and Germany. So the US Navy created the US steel industry. Is the biofuel plan an aggressive goal? Yes, but small goals deliver small results.” — Thomas Hicks of the U.S. Navy as quoted in the Guardian, March 12, 2012 Read More