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A blog written by an interdisciplinary group that I am a part of that is working cooperatively to understand the relationship between society and the environment. We examine regional and global scale phenomena using statistical analyses of real world data. You can link to the full G-FEED blog here (

In the hopes of figuring out how to raise crop yields or farmer incomes around the world, it would be really nice if we had a quick and accurate way of actually measuring yields for individual fields. That has motivated a lot of work over the years on using satellite data, and we have a paper out this weekdescribing another step in that direction.

One function of this blog, other than to raise the level of guilt in Sol’s life (we are still waiting for his March post -- from 2013), is to help us work through ideas that are possibly wrong, possibly unoriginal, or very likely both at the same time. So here’s one idea I’d welcome feedback on. Let’s call it the “inconsistent farmer” problem. 

Lately I’ve been thinking about siestas. And not just because of the extremely warm summer – I mean February – we are having in California. Taking an afternoon break is probably one of the oldest and most widespread adaptations humans have in the face of hot weather. Better to work hard in the morning and late afternoon when the heat is not too bad, and take a break when you would otherwise be unproductive.

Thanks to my thesis advisor (David) for this opportunity to write a guest post about a paperpublished today in Nature Climate Change by myself and my colleague at Stanford, Delavane Diaz. G-FEED readers might be familiar with a number of new empirical studies suggesting that climate change might affect not just economic output in a particular year, but the ability of the economy to grow.

Failure can be good. I don’t mean in the “learn from your mistakes” kind of way. Or in the “fail year after year to even put up a good fight in the Big Game” kind of way. But failure is often the sidekick of innovation and risk-taking. In places with lots of innovation, like Silicon Valley, failure doesn’t have the stigma it has in other places. Because people understand that being new and different is the best way to innovate, but also the best way to fail.

A few questions are almost guaranteed to come up from an audience whenever I give a public talk, regardless of what I talk about. Probably the most persistent question is something like “Don’t we already produce more than enough food to feed everyone?” or its close relative “Isn’t hunger just a poverty or distribution problem?”

We're going to try something new out on G-FEED, which is to invite colleagues for guest posts when they have a new paper that is relevant to the topics we cover. Not only will this help to obscure how infrequently we manage to post, but it will provide some fresh perspectives. And hopefully it's a good chance for people to explain their work in their own words, without having to make a commitment to long-term posting.

One reason we started this blog was the frustration of being misrepresented in media coverage of topics we work on. It can be hard for people to grasp just how frustrating it can be. You spend time talking to a journalist until they seem to get what you're saying, they go off and write the story, and then only about half the time do they check back to see if the quotes they attribute to you are right.

A “drought” can be defined, it seems, in a million different ways.