Soil Health Underwear Test

“Men’s cotton briefs can serve the needs of science when buried in a field for a few weeks. It’s a takeoff on an agronomy soil test that uses cotton swatches to measure carbon consumption by microbes. Microbes living in soil with plenty of carbon, rich in organic matter to turn into energy, don’t have to eat the cotton. Bacteria in carbon-poor soil will eat what they can scavenge.” Read more here

The Hub Community Garden Featured in the Star Press

Today the Hub Community Garden was featured on the front page of the Muncie Star Press. The project, which grew out of collaboration between students from Ball State University and local business owner Hans Heintzelman, is designed to encourage the development of green space in downtown Muncie and serve as a potential model for the community.

U.S. National Climate Assessment Released

The Third U.S. National Climate Assessment was released by the White House today. It provides an overview of the effects of climate change on a range of issues from agriculture and the oceans to human health and infrastructure. In a related note, the prominent climate scientist Michael Mann published an op-ed today in The Guardian today, reporting that Keystone XL pipeline project will likely fail to pass in the U.S. Senate based on the current estimate of votes. This should be a major victory for those who have opposed the pipeline project since its inception, especially Bill McKibben and 350.org. This could also represent a major turning point in U.S. politics with regards to climate change.

April Edition of Anthropology News Focuses on Climate Change

This month’s edition of Anthropology News focuses on climate change. I contributed a short piece titled “Managing Uncertainty in Rural Amazonia: Climate Change, Crop Diversity, and Social Networks.” Here’s the abstract: 

Most Amazonian smallholder farmers are accustomed to uncertain climatic conditions, often relying on traditional ecological knowledge and social network support to contend with the threats of drought and flooding.  Nonetheless, anthropogenic climate change presents unique challenges to Amazonian farmers and their resilience.  Between 2009 and 2010, record flooding accompanied by intense drought left devastating impacts on many smallholder communities in the Central Amazon, severely compromising production of even the most resistant crops, including the regional staple manioc.  Here I discuss the effects of these events on the production and management of manioc in communities along the Lower Madeira River in the Central Brazilian Amazon.  In doing so, I highlight both the vulnerabilities that farmers face and the mechanisms by which they respond to increasingly uncertain environmental conditions.  To conclude, I consider the ways in which anthropological research on agrobiodiversity management vis-a-vis climate change may serve farmers and policy makers alike.