The St Andrews Prize for the Environment of the University of St Andrews recognizes and supports innovative and inspirational responses to environmental challenges. In 2023, Jesse Ausubel joined the jury, which awarded the $100,000 2023 prize to Alianza Ceibo for their Indigenous-led effort for protection of the Upper Amazon Rainforest.
For a 50th Harvard College Reunion Seminar on EO Wilson’s proposal to conserve half Earth, Jesse Ausubel and Mark Stoeckle, assisted by Elizabeth Munnell, conducted a survey of vertebrates in three locations in the Charles River and two in Boston Harbor. The 14 slides on The Charles River and Boston Harbor Then and Now tell a story of remarkable ecological recovery.
RealClear Energy posted an article by Iddo Wernick on consequences of nations choosing different energy trajectories in the Indo-Pacific region in the year 2050. See The Indo-Pacific in 2050: Alternative Energy Scenarios and Security
Cesare Marchetti passed away this morning in Tuscany just short of his 96th birthday. After meeting Cesare in 1978, Jesse Ausubel became fascinated with Cesare’s ideas about the importance and ubiquity of processes of growth and diffusion captured often in simple form by Lotka-Volterra equations and subsequently coded in our Loglet Lab software. In the early 1980s Jesse began assisting Cesare on some projects and subsequently worked together on subjects ranging from electricity to travel to human populations and empires (see below). And of course Leonardo Da Vinci.
Cesare is best known for Marchetti’s Constant that posits that the human time budget for travel is a little above one hour per day, since ever and everywhere, because anthropologically rooted in the dangers homo sapiens faces when outside a protected environment.
Cesare was one of the inventors of geoengineering. His most cited paper is On geoengineering and the CO2 problem (1977).
Around 1970 he was also one of the inventors of the hydrogen economy as described in this 1973 paper: Hydrogen and energy.
Cesare’s explorations of Leonardo are here.
Our group at The Rockefeller University always greatly enjoyed hosting Cesare in New York City, and he reciprocated with marvelous hospitality in Monteloro.
Our joint efforts included:
C Marchetti, JH Ausubel. Quantitative Dynamics of Human Empires [Color Booklet Version, 52 pages]. Adapted from Marchetti and Ausubel, International Journal of Anthropology 27(1-2):1-62, 2012. 2013
JH Ausubel, C Marchetti. Science, Conquering Child of the Church . 2003 Draft prepared for Next 1000 Years meeting, 9-10 October 2003
C Marchetti, JH Ausubel. The Next 1000 Years. 2003 Discussion paper for April 2003 Rockefeller U workshop
JH Ausubel, C Marchetti. The Evolution of Transport. The Industrial Physicist 7 (2): 20–24, 2001
JH Ausubel, C Marchetti, PS Meyer. Toward Green Mobility: The Evolution of Transport European Review 6 (2): 143–162, 1998
JH Ausubel, C Marchetti. Elektron: Electrical Systems in Retrospect and Prospect Pp. 110–134 in Technological Trajectories and the Human Environment, J.H. Ausubel and H.D. Langford, (eds.). Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997 Also appeared in Daedalus 125(3):139-169, Summer 1996.
C Marchetti, PS Meyer, JH Ausubel. Human Population Dynamics Revisited with the Logistic Model: How Much Can Be Modeled and Predicted? Pp. 1–30 in Technological Forecasting and Social Change vol. 53, 1996.
Requiescat in pace.
In this 54″ video made 13 October 2022 Jesse Ausubel, awarded the 2022 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest, discusses whether the human species can continue to improve—much like cars, computers, or other technology—or whether our species has reached its peak.
The new journal based in China, The Innovation, has published the Thaler-Ausubel-Stoeckle paper on Human and domesticated animal environmental DNA as bioassays of the Anthropocene in their “Out of the Box” category, where we like to be. We also post the pdf.
We thank Song Sun and Ke Chen for editorial assistance.
Summary: Human and domesticated animal sequences, commonly detected in environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding studies, are routinely excluded from analysis. Here we suggest that reporting human and domesticated animal eDNA results might open new lines of investigation. For example, the relative abundance of human and domesticated animal eDNA as compared to that of wild vertebrate species might provide an index of human impact on local biota. Such an index could be applied to sites ranging from urban harbors to remote villages, and possibly to analyze historical samples. Various potential sources of contamination complicate the picture, but it should be possible to develop procedures that minimize risk of DNA introduction during collection and processing. Our near-term recommendation is to encourage inclusion of human and domesticated animal data in eDNA publications as an incentive for discovery, to lift quality controls, and to collectively contribute to new vistas that eDNA science might open.
Our great friend and colleague, agronomist Paul E. Waggoner, died on 1 November 2022 in Seattle, surrounded by family and friends. Paul’s wrote a crisp memoir of his own life, from Appanoose to Connecticut. Jesse offered a tribute: Thriving Thrift: On the Occasion of Paul Waggoner Appreciation Day, 2013.
Jesse and Paul first met in 1981 during the work of the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee for which Paul wrote brilliant far-sighted chapters about “Agriculture and a climate changed by more carbon dioxide” and about “Effects of a carbon dioxide-induced climate change on water supplies in the Western United States.” Jesse and Paul continued contact through the 1980s through the periodic seminars on climate change at Yale by William Nordhaus.
Paul and Jesse also did most of the writing and editing for the section on Adaptation (pp. 499-657) in the 1992 NASEM report “Policy Implications of Global Warming.”
In 1992 Jesse asked Paul the question “How much land can 10 billion people spare for Nature” and this led to a superb, lengthy answer (PE Waggoner. How Much Land Can Ten Billion People Spare for Nature? Task Force Report #121, Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Ames IA 1994) and two decades more work on land-sparing and related issues of intensity of use of resources on land and in the sea. Paul was a universally helpful critic and editor as well as creative researcher and, perhaps most important, our best teacher about actual farming and plants.
Some papers we wrote together:
JH Ausubel, IK Wernick, and PE Waggoner. Peak Farmland and the Prospect for Land Sparing. Population and Development Review 38 (Supplement): 217–238, 2012
Rautiainen, IK Wernick, PE Waggoner, JH Ausubel, PE Kauppi. A National and International Analysis of Changing Forest Density . PLoS ONE 6 (5): 2011
JH Ausubel, DT Crist, and PE Waggoner (eds.). First Census of Marine Life 2010: Highlights of a Decade of Discovery. CoML 2010
JH Ausubel, PE Waggoner. Dematerialization: variety, caution, and persistence . Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 105 (35): 12774–12779, 2008 10.1073/pnas.0806099105 D
PE Waggoner, JH Ausubel. Quandaries of forest area, volume, biomass, and carbon explored with the forest identity . Pp. 13 pp in Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 1011 2007
PE Kauppi, JH Ausubel, J-Y Fang, AS Mather, RA Sedjo, PE Waggoner. Returning forests analyzed with forest identity . Pp. 17574–17579 in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A vol. 103, 2006 10.1073/pnas.0608343103
JH Ausubel, PE Waggoner, IK Wernick. Foresters and DNA . Pp. 13–31 in Chapter 2 in Landscapes, Genomics and Transgenic Forests pp. 2006 CG Williams (ed), Published by Kluwer, Dordrecht
JH Ausubel, IK Wernick, AM Barret, PE Waggoner. Industrial ecology for leverage to let loose less cadmium. Prog Ind Ecol 3 (6): 522–537, 2006
MY Stoeckle, PE Waggoner, JH Ausubel. Barcoding Life, Illustrated: Goals, rationale, results (PDF). Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) 2005
MY Stoeckle, PE Waggoner, JH Ausubel. Barcoding Life: Ten Reasons (PDF). Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) 2004 Brochure
PE Waggoner, JH Ausubel. A Framework for Sustainability Science: A Renovated IPAT Identity (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U S A 99 (12): 7860–7865, 2002 (See also a series of 6 Supplements at https://phe.rockefeller.edu/research/impact/)
PE Waggoner, JH Ausubel. How Much Will Feeding More and Wealthier People Encroach on Forests?. Population and Development Review 27 (2): 239–257, 2001
CR Frink, PE Waggoner, JH Ausubel. Nitrogen on the Land: Overcoming the Worries – lifting fertilizer efficiency and preserving land for nonfarming uses Pollution Prevention Review 11 (3): 77–82, 2001
IK Wernick, PE Waggoner, JH Ausubel. The Forester’s Lever: Industrial Ecology and Wood Products Journal of Forestry 98 (10): 8–14, 2000
CR Frink, PE Waggoner, JH Ausubel. Nitrogen fertilizer: Retrospect and prospect. Pp. 1175–1180 in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A vol. 96, 1999
IK Wernick, PE Waggoner, JH Ausubel. Searching for Leverage to Conserve Forests: The Industrial Ecology of Wood Products in the United States Journal of Industrial Ecology 1 (3): 125–145, 1997
PE Waggoner, JH Ausubel, IK Wernick. Lightening the Tread of Population on the Land: American Examples (PDF). Population and Development Review 22 (3): 531-45, 1996
Jesse Ausubel will be honored with the 2022 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest. This award is presented annually by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and the Nierenberg Family to honor the memory of William A. Nierenberg, an esteemed physicist and national science leader who served Scripps Oceanography as director for two decades. Previous awardees include atmospheric scientist Warren Washington, biochemist and Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna, filmmaker Sir David Attenborough, and primatologist Dame Jane Goodall, among others.