Iddo Wernick, our long-time collaborator Pekka Kauppi, and other forestry experts published Quantifying forest change in the European Union in Nature vol 592 pages E13–E14 (2021). The authors argue that net carbon stored in the EU continues to increase as forest volume accumulates faster than additions to (and fluctuations in) the annual harvest.
We continue to follow the achievements of farmers. Corn yields have gone insane. Average USA yields have continued the gradual climb to about 170 bushels/acre or 12 tons/ha. Peak yields have soared. The National Corn Yield contest in the conventional category was 476 bpa or 32 tph in 2020. In 2019 however, David Hula and Randy Dowdy, doing some unconventional things, got to ~600 bpa or more than 40 tph.
At yields this high, the question is what to do with the product – vast surpluses and low prices are not good for farmers. The amounts are so immense that they must become hamburgers and ethanol, but if we wanted polenta, we could release enormous amounts of land for Nature. The incentive to lift yields further is probably going to be weak the next few decades. It would not surprise us to find corn farmers stay on a plateau now for a couple of decades until humans figure out what to do with all the product. This may not be true of some other crops.
The website Human Progress launches a new video series called The Covid Tonic. The series features conversations between renowned scholars and editor, Marian L. Tupy. The interviews focus on the global impact of COVID-19 and the continued importance of rational optimism. Episode 1 features the environmental scientist Jesse Ausubel, a Human Progress Board Member and Director of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University in New York City.