Meredith Niles

Meredith Niles is a PhD student in Ecology at the University of California, Davis. Her research examines the variables that influence the adoption of climate change mitigation and adaptation practices in agriculture. Her work focuses in California at the farm level and New Zealand with agricultural processors, which is implementing the world's first greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme to include agriculture. At UC Davis she is a board member of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute and on the Executive Board of the Russell Ranch Long-Term Agricultural Research Center. She is the former coordinator of the Cool Foods campaign at the Center for Food Safety.

Climate change cobenefits: new opportunities for policy?

This week, I’ve been attending the 3rd annual Governor’s Global Climate Summit at UC Davis, where I am a PhD student in Ecology. With only a month and a few days left until Arnold finishes his term as governor of “the great state of California” as he calls it, he’s pulled out all the stops to be sure that his legacy of climate work is remembered. But perhaps more interesting has been the undertone of the conference: recognizing the co-benefits to other areas when we address climate change. To be fair, Arnold has the right to gloat: It was only …

Tilling me softly

What the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill means for farmers

Thus far the majority of analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill has focused on the energy components of the bill, including an extension of nuclear power, “clean coal” from carbon storage and sequestration, and offshore drilling expansion. The bill also provides unprecedented programs for agriculture and food systems in the U.S. and internationally. Unfortunately, while the bill contains strong language promoting sustainable agriculture, it also offers support for troubling agricultural practices that have yet to significantly prove their capacity to reduce emissions. I was at a meeting recently where someone said, “Agriculture is a culprit, a victim, and a solution,” …

Peterson’s Waxman-Markey amendment: the nitty gritty and what it means

This morning the House Agriculture Committee released the 49-page Peterson amendment to the Waxman-Markey climate bill.  It has been a laborious task, requiring dozens of closed door meetings, compromises (almost entirely at the expense of Waxman who has worked so hard to keep the bill strong), and eventually a very happy Chairman Peterson and House Agriculture Committee.  As I combed through the amendment this morning, I was delighted to see a variety of inclusions that are positive and were advocated for by progressive environmental, consumer and farmer organizations. Yet many are problematic for a climate change bill that, let’s not …

We don't want to know about your crap

Factory farms get the ultimate handout

Since the beginning of climate change legislation this session in Congress it has been clear that big agriculture would not be a part of a cap and trade program.  Yet, while the Waxman Markey bill has been making its way through Congress, the EPA has also been pushing forward its own agenda of climate related regulations, including the mandatory reporting of GHG emissions from factory farms.  Yet, yesterday the House Appropriations Committee undermined this progressive proposed regulation by passing the 2010 Interior and Environment spending bill. An amendment in the bill will prevent the EPA from requiring factory farms to …

Organically grown offsets

A climate policy for agriculture that works

A proven climate solution. Not since Earl Butz’s famous “hedgerow to hedgerow” comment of the 1970s have America’s farmers been at such a turning point. Food and farming policy in the United States is largely determined by the Farm Bill, behemoth legislation that comes around once every five years.  Yet, the current climate legislation–The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES)–offers an unprecedented opportunity to rethink the way America farms.  Since the start of ACES, agriculture interests have had an unspoken, yet powerful voice in the bill. Ag was explicitly exempted from the “capped” sector, which meanth that from the …

Truth in advertising?

Monsanto targets public radio to spread false biotech messages

Editor’s note: This post originally focused on NPR; but we’ve since found that the Monsanto ads run on Marketplace, produced by American Public Media, which isn’t directly affiliated with NPR. We regret the confusion. —————- Monsanto’s ad blitzFor years my alarm has been set to public radio so I can lie in bed for five minutes and have a grasp on the day’s news before I even get up. I, like many other Americans, rely on NPR and other public-radio shows for news that is what I deem to be as unbiased and fair as possible. But this morning my …

Markey and Waxman cut the crap

New climate legislation overlooks a major GHG source: industrial ag

Like many others in the climate movement, I have been waiting for weeks (well, years actually) for broad and sweeping climate change legislation.  Back in January the economy captured Congressional attention and I knew global warming legislation would simply have to wait.  Finally, yesterday, Representatives Markey and Waxman introduced their “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009″, a wide-reaching cap and trade initiative with more ambitious emission reductions (83% below 2005 levels by 2050) than President Obama had even advocated for.  For that, and for a variety of other progressive initiatives including those for energy efficiency, green jobs, and …

The meat complex: Fox News gets it, do you?

Fox News story advocates for reducing meat consumption to combat global warming

This week, as I sorted through my inbox and overflowing number of “google alerts,” one particular story from Fox News caught my attention. In a decidedly personal yet informative piece, Andy Kroll of Fox News outlined the reasons why he was going to reduce his meat consumption by 75 percent in the upcoming months. The tipping point for him? The significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions associated with animal production globally. What is so inviting and simultaneously exciting about Andy’s article is the realistic and informative approach he takes to a very complicated issue. He notes the United Nations figure …

Polling my leg

Americans care about global warming, but don’t see how it connects to other environmental problems

A new poll shows that Americans do care about global warming, but don’t seem to realize how prevalent it really is. This week Gallup released data from its latest poll on global warming indicating that more Americans — 41 percent, the highest number since 1998 — believe that global warming is exaggerated. This sounds like cause for concern similar to what I wrote about back in January when polls indicated more Americans believe global warming is caused by planetary trends than humans. But in fact, the data on this poll isn’t as cut and dry as some of the media …

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