Congratulations to Julianne Peláez for being selected as a recipient of the 2020-2021 STEM Chateaubriand Fellowship!
The Chateaubriand Fellowship is a grant offered by the Embassy of France in the United States. It supports outstanding Ph.D. students from American universities who wish to conduct research in France for a period ranging from 4 to 9 months. Chateaubriand fellows are selected through a merit-based competition, through a collaborative process involving expert evaluators in both countries.
We are pleased to announce the addition of a new MCB Assistant Professor, Yvette Fisher, arriving in July 2021.
Photo by Mark Plötz via Pexels.
Water scarcity, a socio-environmental threat to anthropogenic activities and ecosystems alike, affects large regions of the globe. However, it is often the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations that suffer the severest consequences, highlighting the role of economic and institutional factors in water scarcity. In this way, researchers generally consider not only the physical constraints but socio-economic determinants as well.
Agriculture, which accounts for 90 percent of global water use, is the largest driver of water scarcity worldwide. In a recent study published in Science Advances, environmental science, policy, and management professor Paolo D’Odorico and PhD candidate Lorenzo Rosa investigate water scarcity over global agricultural lands, assessing various geographical factors and presenting the data in high resolution maps.
D’Odorico and Rosa draw distinctions between the physical and societal constraints to water access in the analysis. “While some scarcity is associated with insufficient freshwater availability in the physical environment, economic water scarcity has been defined as renewable water resources being physically available, but with a lack of economic and institutional capacity that limits the societal ability to use that water,” says Rosa.
Using data intensive computer models, the researchers were able to quantify the water currently provided to crops. They determine the optimal amount of water needed to grow these crops under normal conditions with ample water. Then using hydrological models, the authors compare water demand with availability to measure scarcity and determine the regions of the world where additional water could be made available through expanded irrigation.
The findings suggest that there is enough locally available water to expand irrigation over 140 million hectares of agricultural lands. However, for socio-economic reasons, irrigation infrastructure is not currently available for much of this cropland. The authors also note that sustainable irrigation expansion could have significant implications in a changing climate. “A sustainable expansion of irrigation over economically water-scarce lands could be an important adaptation strategy to climate change, contributing to more reliable and resilient crop production,” says D’Odorico.
The authors also find that two-thirds of land suitable for irrigation expansion is located in sub-Saharan Africa, East Europe, and Central Asia. In these regions, the expansion of sustainable irrigation could boost food production and feed an additional 800 million people.
The study was conducted in collaboration with a team of scientists from Politecnico di Milano and University of Amsterdam. Read the full study in Science Advances here.Image: Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2020 - 11:45 Legacy: section header item: Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2020 - 11:45 headline_position: Top Left headline_color_style: Normal headline_width: Long caption_color_style: Normal caption_position: Bottom Left News/Story tag(s): Research News Expose in main "News river"?: yes Keyword tag(s): climate change
Congratulations to MCB Assistant Professor Evan Miller on being selected as a 2020 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar!
MCB Professor James Hurley has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
Congratulations to MCB Professor Kathleen Collins on being elected a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences!
A March 22, 2020 car caravan protest outside the Minnesota Governor’s Mansion. While physically distancing, protesters called for the release of all immigrant detainees from Minnesota jails. Photo by Brad Sigal.
In an article published in American Journal of Public Health today, Miriam Magaña Lopez, a research and policy analyst at the Berkeley Center for Social Medicine, and associate professor of environmental science, policy, and management Seth Holmes examine how immigrant raids, detention, and deportation negatively impact public health, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The article outlines how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities go against public health recommendations and shelter-in-place orders in place to mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak. It also notes that such actions engender immigrants’ distrust in public health institutions and worsen equipment shortages, among other impacts.
The authors argue that ICE raids, detention, and deportation should not be deemed essential during a pandemic. Moving individuals to overcrowded detention centers or deporting them, they write, unnecessarily spreads the virus, and the use of N95 masks by ICE agents in raids exacerbates shortages of protective equipment for frontline health care workers.
Past studies suggest a connection between immigration raids and higher levels of distrust in public institutions among immigrant communities. Such raids during a pandemic could lead community members to avoid medical treatment, the researchers write, even when an individual is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
“These actions threaten to overwhelm our public health system and fan the flames of the pandemic,” write the authors. “As a country, we have a history opportunity to set our priorities straight. Literally to survive, we must provide necessary equipment to frontline health workers, follow public health recommendations and stop ICE raids, detentions and deportations.”
Read the paper in the American Journal of Public Health here.Image: Date: Thursday, April 23, 2020 - 12:45 Legacy: section header item: Date: Thursday, April 23, 2020 - 12:45 headline_position: Top Left headline_color_style: Normal headline_width: Long caption_color_style: Normal caption_position: Bottom Left News/Story tag(s): Research News Expose in main "News river"?: yes Keyword tag(s): COVID-19
Photo by John Lambeth via Pexels.
A recent study published in Nature Food, co-authored by environmental science, policy, and management professor Paolo D’Odorico, found that less than one-third of the world population could currently meet their demand with food produced on a local scale alone.
Over the past several decades, food production has become more efficient globally, resulting in the overall diversification of diets. Still, the majority of the world population live in countries that are dependent on, at least partially, imported food. As a result, food insecurity is intensified during global crises like the current COVID-19 pandemic, when global food supply chains are disrupted.
The study models the minimum distance between crop production and consumption necessary to meet food demand around the world. Conducted in collaboration with Aalto University, the University of Columbia, the Australian National University, and the University of Göttningen, the study factors in six key food crop groups: temperate cereals (wheat, barley, rye), rice, corn, tropical grains (millet, sorghum), tropical roots (cassava), and pulses. In their models, the researchers consider various production modes, also including scenarios where production chains become more efficient due to reduced food waste and improved farming methods.
The results show that only 27 percent of the world population could access temperate cereal grains within a radius of fewer than 100 kilometers, or roughly 62 miles. The findings indicate that local food production is not sufficient in meeting global demand, especially given current agricultural practices and consumption habits. The authors recommend further research into increasing levels of domestic production, accounting for the mitigation of food waste and environmental problems associated with agriculture.
Image: Date: Thursday, April 23, 2020 - 01:45 Legacy: section header item: Date: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 - 12:15 headline_position: Top Left headline_color_style: Normal headline_width: Long caption_color_style: Normal caption_position: Bottom Left News/Story tag(s): Research News Expose in main "News river"?: yes Keyword tag(s): COVID-19
Photo by Tom Swinnen via Pexels.
As the world is grappling with a policy response to the unfolding economic crisis, ideas on green stimulus are gaining traction. This represents a significant long-term shift in the history of ideas on climate and economic policy.
With the rise of climate policies in the 1990s, market-based solutions were once the dominant mode of climate policy proposals. New research from environmental science, policy, and management associate professor Jonas Meckling analyzes the broad shift in economic principles and schools of thought, in response to climate challenges. Co-authored with Bentley Allan, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, the study shows that major international organizations have broadened their climate policy advice beyond market-based solutions to include green innovation and industrial policy, including subsidies and regulation, and that climate policy has entered a post-paradigmatic period.
The study, published in Nature Climate Change on Monday, analyzes over 150 academic publications from prominent organizations that report on economic interventions in climate policies, including the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The research outlines how shifts in economic thought have guided new approaches to climate--in particular, how a shift from neoclassical economic principles to Green Keynesian and Schumpeterian principles has paralleled a greater emphasis on green growth.
The analysis can inform future climate policies and economic interventions by clarifying the role of regulatory intervention and government investment in climate policy. The authors suggest that the diversification of economic thought has prompted more robust climate policies. Meckling and co-author Allan write: “The emergence of a diversified global policy discourse is important because it helped change the frame of climate policy from a zero-sum to a win-win logic. In this view, climate action generates both private and collective benefits.”
Meckling’s research focuses on climate and energy policy; specifically, he studies the underlying political and economic forces that drive the low-carbon transition.
Read the full study in Nature Climate Change here.Image: Date: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 - 09:15 Legacy: section header item: Date: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 - 09:15 headline_position: Top Left headline_color_style: Normal headline_width: Long caption_color_style: Normal caption_position: Bottom Left News/Story tag(s): Research News Expose in main "News river"?: yes