New home

Dear Readers,

I am moving my blog to, I hope you follow along with me there!  For email subscribers, I’m working on setting up email subscription for the new page.  Hope to see you soon,

AGua / Bonnie


Is ‘climate smart’ ag just greenwashing?

Re-posted from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, written by Ben Lilliston. Original title “What’s wrong with ‘climate smart’ agriculture?” Link to original article here.

One year after it was launched at the UN Climate Summit in New York, the controversial Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA) is at the center of an emerging international debate. Last week, more than 350 civil society organizations from around the world urged global decision-makers to oppose GACSA, charging that the initiative opens the door for agribusiness greenwashing while undermining agroecological solutions to climate change.

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Drought, shade balls, lawsuits and honeybees

A California farmer on his farm land where he usually grows melons and wheat.  Source: NYTIMES, California farmer on his farm land where he usually grows melons and wheat.  Source: NYTIMES,
A California farmer on his farm land where he usually grows melons and wheat. Source: NYTIMES,

It’s been a busy summer here at the Kellogg Biological Station: I’ve mentored my first undergraduate summer intern (paying it forward for all the mentorship I’ve received); learned how to measure carbonate content and phosphorus fractions in soils; collected several hundred soil porewater samples; and, hey, our softball team even won a few games.  Today I thought I’d update you with a few news stories I have my eye on.
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The poor disproportionately carry the burden of climate change

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By Don Bartletti for the LA Times. “Teenage migrant farmworkers pick ripe Roma tomatoes in Cristo Rey, Sinaloa, Mexico. Paulina, left, 15, and her brother, Pablo Angel, 12, follow the harvest with their family.”

Q: What do the following groups have in common:

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The water-energy nexus, not so cut-and-dry

What is the water-energy nexus?  No, it’s not water energy voodoo.  The water-energy nexus is, basically, the way water management and energy supply and demand affect each other, their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, and the development of sustainable solutions that integrate efficient use of both.  At present we treat water management and energy generation as separate issues.  But *reality check* they are Continue reading “The water-energy nexus, not so cut-and-dry”

A plea for involving Appalachians in the clean energy sector

As an Appalachian, I have thought a lot about coal, and one of my biggest concerns over the last eight years or so has been: when we do transition to renewable energy and away from fossil fuels, don’t we owe it to places like West Virginia and eastern Kentucky to create clean energy jobs there?  Central Appalachia has been ravaged by coal extraction in many dimensions—public health, environmental damages, and economic losses.  So in the future when we finally turn our backs on coal for good (or run out, whichever comes first), we will also be turning our backs on the people who live there.

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Climate messaging, growth/no-growth economics

This week I am reporting to you live from the National Council for Science and the Environment’s annual conference in Washington DC.  The conference’s theme this year is “Energy and Climate Change.”  This is my first time at this conference and I was invigorated by the speakers’ focus on real world problems from the local to global scale.  It was a very different feeling than an academic society conference, where mention of applied research and policy is often hard to find.  The meeting was also somewhat interdisciplinary: lots of engineers (maybe more so this year because of the energy theme), folks from many federal agencies (including NOAA, NASA, USDA, and USGS); academics; people who work for NGO’s; business leaders (e.g. a Toyota VP); and a few policy makers.

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My research in two and a half minutes

It’s been a quiet few months on AGua blogua, but I have a pretty good excuse–I passed my PhD comprehensive exams in December!  To make up for the posting paucity, here’s the big debut of a video explaining what I’m working on.  A big thanks to Lucas Hamilton, who filmed and edited it!  I made the video specifically for the NSF GK-12 program at the Kellogg Biological Station, but I think it might be appealing to a wider audience.   I hope you enjoy it:

Groundwater: Not so panacea after all

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Graphic by the New York Times:

Groundwater is showing up more and more in US headlines.  Here are two news stories that caught my eye with interesting parallels to current (or future?) groundwater regulation in Michigan.  First up, radical new groundwater regulation in California: “Radical” in that there will soon be groundwater regulation in California.  No more “drill, baby, drill” (for water, that is).  The on-going three year drought in the state has farmers rushing to put in new, deeper wells to pump groundwater.  More pumping means subsidence (sinking land), shallow wells going dry, and saltwater intrusion in coastal aquifers.  But the new package of three 3 bills (passed in the state senate on Aug. 29 & now under review by Gov. Jerry Brown) gives local authorities the responsibility to manage groundwater basins sustainably and if unable to do so, the state has the power to step in.  Read more in The New York Times, Reuters, and

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