Eos article on Measuring Ambient Ocean Sound During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Measuring Ambient Ocean Sound During the COVID-19 Pandemic: An expanded nonmilitary hydrophone network provides new opportunities to understand the variability and trends of ocean sound and the effects of sound on marine organisms by Peter L. Tyack, Jennifer Miksis-Olds, Jesse Ausubel, and Edward R. Urban Jr. appears in Eos magazine. Let’s learn from the COVID-19 pause to help achieve safer operations for shipping industries, offshore energy operators, navies, and other users of the ocean.

A slighly abbreviated version appeared in Maritime Executive as COVID-19 Downturn Creates an Opportunity to Study a Quieter Ocean.

Joshua Lederberg biography published

Genes, Germs and Medicine: The Life of Joshua Lederberg  by U. of Toronto historian of science Jan Sapp has just been published.  The book provides an engaging, balanced, and perceptive view of the multifaceted life and mind of Dr. Lederberg, who passed away in 2008.

For Jesse’s particular remembrances, see

Joshua Lederberg (In memoriam, 2008)
Joshua Lederberg (A Tribute to the Foresight of Joshua Lederberg, 2009)

Crowning achievement of Deep Carbon Observatory

The media have much coverage of the new paper Extending full-plate tectonic models into deep time and its marvelous visualization of a billion years of movement of the Earth’s continents and tectonic plates in 40 seconds.  The paper generously acknowledges the Deep Carbon Observatory as well as Sloan and Lounsbery foundation grants arranged by Jesse.  Congratulations to the brilliant leader of the EarthByte Group, Sabin Zahirovic, lead author Andrew Merdith, and the rest of their team.  The paper will become a citation classic and earn them many prizes. For history of the Deep Carbon Observatory, see Jesse’s Foreword to Simon Mitton’s new From Crust to Core (A Chronicle of Deep Carbon Science)

Precision agriculture in Wall Street Journal

Robert Paarlberg’s article “The Environmental Upside of Modern Farming” cites our work about land-sparing. Rob has just published a new book Resetting the Table: Straight Talk About the Food We Grow and Eat.

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 Dutch greenhouses are another important story, another big step toward what in the 1980s we started calling Landless Agriculture. This National Geographic story 2017 shows the importance of greenhouses.  http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/09/holland-agriculture-sustainable-farming/ .

The potential for land-sparing, for E O Wilson’s Half Earth strategy remains very real.

Great Global Fish Count

We post the concept paper for the Great Global Fish Count and the 5 slides Jesse Ausubel and Mark Stoeckle prepared for the Ocean Studies Board virtual meeting to discuss “ocean shots” for the new Ocean Decade. The video of Jesse’s 10-minute talk starts at 24’10” of the Feb 3 Ocean Decade Plenary 2 session of video showcase of the Ocean Decade: U.S. Launch Meeting February 3-4, 2021.

The USA Ocean Decade Ocean-Shots site is here.

Here is the list of 87 Ocean-Shot ideas.

 The journal of the Marine Technology Society will publish a special issue with short article on many of the ideas.

Retrospective on the Census of Marine Life

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) hosted a virtual symposium entitled Observing Life in a Changing Ocean: Exploring a ‘Census of Marine Life’ Today, on January 27, 2021.

The Census of Marine Life was an international program of discovery of life in the ocean, from microbes to whales and from coral reefs to abyssal plains. The Census ran from 2000-2010 and was a model for building collaboration and a global baseline of knowledge of marine diversity, distribution, and abundance.  COL convened the symposium to highlight the need and generate excitement for a sustained, collaborative, and systematic program in marine biodiversity research and observation.  Jesse Ausubel gave an opening 25-minute retrospective on the program beginning 5 minutes 40 seconds into the video.