Viewing entries in
The Environment

Farmer Economics and Saving The Planet: The Case of Herbicides

Luckily, “smart sprayers” have arrived! These sprayers use machine-vision technology that enables weed recognition and the targeting of individual weeds. According to a recent survey, 20% of precision technology dealers indicated they were already offering the sprayers, and half the dealers foresaw offering the sprayers in the near future, given farmer interest and product improvements. …Precision spraying means less herbicide residue outside the target. Good for the soil, good for the water, and good for endangered species everywhere.

GM Crops, Climate Change and Protecting the Environment: The Latest Research

According to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) associated with land use account for somewhere between 21-37% of all anthropogenic emissions. Agriculture is the main culprit, both as a cause of deforestation and as a major emitter of GHGs, especially carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. Agriculture is also destroying biodiversity and pushing all sorts to species to the brink of extinction.

How Much Do US Farmers Make?

Note that most farms lose money (specifically, 54.2% of all farms have “negative income” from farming). Small farms in particular depend on off-farm income to survive. Midsize farm households do okay - but they take in a lot of nonfarm income too. Not counting the nonfarm income, midsize farm households earn about what a mid-career registered nurse makes. Large-scale farmers are doing a lot better On average, their household income is on par with what a typical plastic surgeon earns in a year.

Astrology, Political Attitudes and Party Affiliation

…twice as many Democrats as Republicans consider astrology “very” scientific and Republicans are more likely than Democrats to consider astrology “not at all” scientific. What’s going on here? Is there a solid scientific case for believing in astrology?

Truth-Telling and Persuasive Intent in Conversations about the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Part III: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

Verheggen et al gets the final word:

“Different surveys are not directly comparable, due to different groups of people being asked different questions…. Different surveys typically use slightly different criteria to determine their survey sample and to define the consensus position, hampering a direct comparison. It is possible that our definition of “agreement” sets a higher standard than, for example, survey question[s] about whether human activity is ‘a significant contributing factor’.”

Truth-Telling and Persuasive Intent in Conversations about Climate Change, Part IIa: How was the Consensus Established?

The above graphic conveys two things: first, getting skeptics to accept the scientific consensus on climate change is essential to convincing them of the need for urgent action. Second, in order for skeptics to accept the consensus, you have to convince them that the consensus is overwhelming - not just most scientists, but the vast majority of scientists. So is that what the studies in this graphic show? Let’s find out.

Truth-Telling and Persuasive Intent in Conversations about Climate Change, Part I: What is the Scientific Consensus?

Rule # 1: If you’re going to have an honest conversation about climate change, don’t misrepresent what the scientific consensus actually is.

Rule # 2: If you’re going to have an honest conversation about climate change, be prepared to discuss the evidence for a scientific consensus.

Rule # 3: If you want to have an honest conversation about climate change, remember that conversation is a two-way street. That means it’s just as much about listening as speaking.

Rule # 4: If your goal is to persuade someone to agree with you, then your goal is not to have an honest conversation.

Saving Endangered Species Through Better Farming

To make matters even worse, most of the developing world is moving to beef and cows wreak much more environmental havoc than chickens and pigs. Unfortunately, this trend is likely to continue at least for the next couple generations. Which is a long time if you’re an endangered species.

Environmental Issues to Engage Climate Change Skeptics

…For instance, in a recent survey, even though just 36% of Republican or Republican-Leaning Millennials endorsed “Earth is warming mostly due to human activity”, 83-87% of the same group supported expansion of renewables and 60% wanted the government to do more to protect animals and habitat (Pew Research 2019). So here are some environmental causes the skeptics might be interested in: …

Making Science Real: A Guide

The rest of us rely on mental shortcuts to arrive at our opinions on climate change - mostly to do with trust and perceived plausibility. In other words, how we feel/think about climate change depends in large part on whom we trust or don’t trust, as well as what information, explanations, and opinions fit with our understanding of how the world works. This is not an irrational way for non-scientists to approach a subject as complex as climate change. 

But we could do better. We could live the words “science is real”…

How Would a Doctor Treat Climate Change?

Some in the medical community take a “wait and see” approach to the disease of climate change. They’re aware of computer models predicting a dangerous worsening of the patient’s condition but note that other models are not nearly so gloomy. These doctors point out that most treatments carry their own risks, so it’s best just to monitor the patient closely for the time being…However, most in the medical community acknowledge the patient will probably get worse without some sort of intervention. But many physicians aren’t convinced the prognosis is dire without aggressive treatment and so opt for a conservative approach to managing the patient’s condition. …Yet other doctors are convinced that without aggressive measures this climate change disease will inevitably progress to painful debilitation and possible death.

How Can We Save Coral Reefs? A Primer

Overfishing, destructive fishing practices, coral harvesting and mining, sewage, sedimentation, pollution, elevated sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification are all stressors. Less stress and greater resilience to stress increase the likelihood of coral reefs living beyond the Anthropocene.