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Articles by Kif Scheuer

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  • New study: Nitrogen availability may constrain biomass accumulation in presence of increased CO2

    An article in the April 13 issue of Nature, "Nitrogen limitations constrains sustainability of ecosystem response to CO2" (subscription required) reports on a six-year study of the role of nitrogen on biomass accumulation when CO2 concentrations increase.

    Our results indicate that variability in availability of soil N and deposition of atmospheric N are both likely to influence the response of plant biomass accumulation to elevated atmospheric CO2. Given that limitations to productivity resulting from the insufficient availability of N are widespread in both unmanaged and managed vegetation, soil N supply is probably an important constraint on global terrestrial responses to elevated CO2.

  • Corporations going green: The fifth horseman or the winning horse?

    David pointed out that a common thread in the recent Wal-Mart discussion was anger over dilution of the organic label by corporate finagling. Underlying the labeling issue, and a part of so many environmental discussions, is environmentalists' ambivalence towards corporate involvement in any pro-environmental action.

    Today the NYT gave me the perfect segue to this topic by devoting a whole section to the "business of green." There's tons of great stuff in there, worth many discussions, but I'll just pull one quote from the article "Companies and Critics try collaboration."

    If politics makes for strange bedfellows, global warming, endangered forests, dwindling water supplies and scary new technologies have made for even stranger ones. Environmentalists and corporations are engaging in a new spirit of compromise.

    For some of us, that quote is the canary in the coal mine, singing out loud that the environment has been sold out. For others it is a signal that we've entered a new era of environmental progress.

  • Wal-mart’s organic bomb

    Melanie Warner at the NYT reports today that Wal-Mart is about to dramatically increase its organic food offerings.

    In very understated fashion, she says, "Wal-Mart's interest is expected to change organic food production in substantial ways."

    Um, yeah, it sure will.

    Wal-Mart's plan is to sell organics ~10% over the price of non-organics -- a much closer premium than you can get elsewhere. It's also getting brands like Pepsi, Rice Krispies, and Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese in the game.

    There's good back and forth in the article about the pros and cons of further industrializing organics -- availability and expansion of the market in the pros, weakening standards and increased overseas production in the cons.

  • Move over HGTV, here comes GBTV

    PBS is going to start airing a show called Building green in September.

    A green-building TV show sounds interesting, but also makes me nervous. Will it be more of the shallow consumerism that defines most home shows? Or will it actually seek to give average people the comfort and confidence to try green-building projects themselves.