Over the years that we’ve worked on reducing the global warming pollution, we’ve delved quite a bit into the scientific studies on what drives tropical deforestation. We’ve looked at major causes, such as palm oil and beef, and tried to keep up with the new literature on deforestation so that our actions and the policies we suggest are based on the latest science. Most recently, this is reflected in our review of cases in which tropical countries have significantly reduced deforestation or even reforested. Now, there’s a new report out that is an important step forward in summarizing what the science – all the science – tells us about the causes of deforestation and what can be done about it.
June 9th, 2014
I’m now in Bonn at the United Nations climate negotiations, where the big news is that in the last week the world’s two biggest emitters – China and the United States – have announced important actions to cut their carbon pollution, especially from the coal that they burn. These steps are welcome, but they are plans, not accomplishments, and they come late compared to other countries that have already acted to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.
Ironically, most of these successes are in tropical developing countries, where countries’ reductions in rates of deforestation and in some cases their reforestation of cleared land have cut their net emissions of global warming pollution. Their actions have already accomplished more for the climate than the actions of many developed nations have.
May 7th, 2014
Farmers and foresters already face a great deal of uncertainty in their professions. All it takes is a few weeks of intense drought, a single hailstorm, or an uncontrolled wildfire to destroy the results of their labors, and with it, their livelihoods. Read More
April 30th, 2014
For quite a while, agriculture was dismissed as a possible way to mitigate climate change, because it’s where our food comes from, and we can’t live without food. From this obvious fact came the misinterpretation that we couldn’t cut agricultural greenhouse gas emissions without threatening food security. Read More
April 15th, 2014
One small but important breakthrough in the new IPCC report on climate mitigation, released Sunday in Berlin, is that the chapter on agriculture, forest, and other land use (AFOLU) looks at the demand side, not just supply. In other words, it not only asks how we can create less global warming pollution in producing food and wood products, but also what kinds of food and wood products we ought to be producing and consuming if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change. Read More
April 14th, 2014
The taxman cometh. At my house, the 1040 is signed and the check is written, joining millions of others in the mail this week. Recently, the U.S. Treasury Department reported that improvement in the U.S. economy is leading to rising revenues from federal taxes. But just what are our tax dollars buying? Read More
March 21st, 2014
I’m in Berlin at the Global Land Project conference, a biennial gathering of about 1000 scientists who study how we Earthlings use our world. I gave a talk on beef compared to other meats in the informal “Pecha Kucha” format, which requires you to use only 20 slides, each displayed for only 20 seconds. It was fun, but the big excitement has been hearing new ideas presented by researchers from all over the world.
March 7th, 2014
History is happening all the time, but usually without us realizing it. Only rarely do we experience a change so dramatic that we know that what’s happening today will be remembered fifty or a hundred years in the future. The kind of thing that you’ll tell your grandchildren about. This is especially the case for so-called “tipping points,” celebrated in both scientific and popular writing. Usually, you only realize that something was a tipping point after you’re well past it. But sometimes…
February 10th, 2014
Much has been written about the ugly sausage-making of the just-ended farm bill process: the abandoned opportunity to truly reform the nation’s farm subsidy system, the cynical refusal to deny subsidies to millionaire farmers, and the 4 percent of food stamp beneficiaries who ultimately took it on the chin. But now that President Obama has signed the thing into law, it’s worth reviewing a number of real and meaningful wins that UCS and its allies and supporters achieved in this bill. And also noting that our work isn’t done. Read More
Eric Christianson, MS Iowa State University
Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture and MCRP Community and Regional Planning
February 4th, 2014
Growing up the son of a corn and bean farmer in northern Illinois, I remember my parents talking jealously about a neighbor who received a generous offer from a developer for his farmland. It seemed a great fortune to me for farmers to be able to profit so handsomely from the expansion of cities. Read More