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Collin-oscopy

Minn. Rep. Collin Peterson’s crusade against climate policy rages on

Collin Peterson -- a Democrat even the Koch brothers could love.Photo: Name Your Frame & Photography via Collin PetersonThe sad saga of climate legislation under Obama -- its harrowing ride through Congress and final collapse -- features many villains. For me, the most maddening isn't some Tea Party ideologue railing against the "climate conspiracy." Rather, it's a powerful Democrat named Collin Peterson, rep from Minnesota, the House's ranking Agriculture Committee member, and the man I once deemed the corn jihadi.   Peterson's opposition to climate policy doesn't stem from any insane denialist creed. Indeed, he once even welcomed global warming …

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no rain, no grain

The world is one poor harvest away from chaos

An Indian woman sifts grain from a previous harvest. Water shortages could drastically affect this year's harvest.Photo: World BankIn early January, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that its Food Price Index had reached an all-time high in December, exceeding the previous record set during the 2007-08 price surge. Even more alarming, on Feb. 3, the FAO announced that the December record had been broken in January as prices climbed an additional 3 percent. Will this rise in food prices continue in the months ahead? In all likelihood, we will see further rises that will take the world …

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I pity the fuel

With global grain prices surging, corn ethanol looking dumber than ever

There's nothing green about wasting corn for ethanol.Grist has been tracking rising food prices for some time -- and we're not the only ones. New York Times columnist and Nobel economist Paul Krugman has been writing on the subject, including some interesting analysis of the interaction of climate risk and food prices. Here's a key nugget from him regarding soaring wheat prices: Why is production down? Most of the decline in world wheat production, and about half of the total decline in grain production, has taken place in the former Soviet Union -- mainly Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. And we …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Corn, Food

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Grains of truth

Ask Umbra Book Club: Did Paleolithic hunter-gatherers eat healthier than we do today?

Corn of plenty? Maybe not so much.Photo: Big Grey MareDearest readers, Welcome to the second day of our conversation of At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson. You can catch up on yesterday’s chat here. If you have yet to get a copy of the book, jump in anyway. As a quick catchup, you can listen to Bryson read the introduction here. Growing plants for food is really a very recent innovation. Early in the book, we learn that in Jericho, the "world’s first true city," people settled but did not farm. They stopped wandering and …