The past 70 years have been good for corn production in the Midwestern U.S., with yields increasing fivefold since the 1940s. Much of this improvement has been credited to advances in farming technology, but researchers at Harvard University are asking if changes in climate and local temperature may be playing a bigger role than previously thought.In a new paper, researchers found that a prolonged growing season due to warmer temperatures, combined with the natural cooling effects of large fields of plants, have had a major contribution to improved corn production in the U.S.“Our research shows that improvements in crop yield depend, in part, on improvements in climate,” said Peter Huybers, professor of Earth and planetary sciences in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) and of environmental science and engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). “In this case, changing temperatures have had a beneficial impact on agricultural production, but there is no guarantee that benefit will last as the climate continues to change. Understanding the detailed relationships between climate and crop yield is important as we move toward feeding a growing population on a changing planet.”The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).The researchers modeled the relationship between temperature and crop yield from 1981 to 2017 across the so-called Corn Belt: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. They found that as temperatures increased due to global climate change, planting days got earlier and earlier, shifting by about three days per decade.“One of farmers’ biggest decisions is what they plant and when they plant it,” said Ethan Butler, a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota, first author of the paper, and a former graduate student in EPS. “We are seeing that farmers are planting earlier — not only because they have hardier seeds and better planting equipment, but also because it’s getting warmer sooner.”Early planting means the corn has more time to mature before the growing season ends.There is also a second, more surprising trend that has benefited corn yields. Whereas the vast majority of temperatures have warmed over the last century, the hottest days during the Midwestern growing season have actually cooled.“Increasingly productive and densely planted crops can evaporate more water from leaves and soils during hot days,” said Nathaniel Mueller, former postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard University Center for the Environment and co-author of the paper. “Widespread increases in rates of evaporation apparently help shield maize from extreme heat, cooling the surrounding area and helping to boost yields.”Mueller is currently an assistant professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine.The researchers estimate that more than a quarter of the increase in crop yield since 1981 can be attributed to the twin effects of a longer growing season and less exposure to high temperatures, suggesting that crop yields are more vulnerable to climate change than previously thought.The researchers also show that the planting and harvest dates farmers currently use are significantly better adapted to the present climate than they would have been to climates in earlier decades.“Farmers are incredibly proactive and we’re seeing them take advantage of changes in temperature to improve their yield. The question is, how well can they continue to adapt in response to future changes in climate,” said Huybers.This research was supported in part by the Packard Foundation and the National Science Foundation.
Picturing vision and justice Author Allison Manswell examines importance of open dialogue Two-day conference explores the nexus of art, race, laws, and norms In what Assistant Dean Chris Ciotti called “a comfortable and safe place for an uncomfortable conversation,” scores of Harvard faculty and administrators gathered Thursday morning to discuss racism, sexism, LGBTQ rights, politics, white privilege, and economic equity as part of the FAS Diversity Conference “A Decade of Dialogue.”And while one speaker said that “the world needs Harvard to become a leader” in fostering an inclusive environment, keynote speaker Tim Wise noted that institutions everywhere are increasingly examining whether they foster or impede climates of belonging — because, he said, since the 2016 elections, “the deep divisions that were always there [in American society] are more apparent.”“What does it mean when conservatism in the modern era is not just, ‘I would like my taxes to be lower and businesses to have some deregulation,’ it’s actually a debate about the fundamental humanity of certain people and whether or not they’re going to enjoy equal rights?” he said. “We’re at that point right now.”Wise, an educator, author, and anti-racism activist, said the societal divisions that are often expressed in racial or other bias are rooted in both white privilege and a failure to understand that the system is rigged against most people by “rich white men telling not-rich white people that their enemies are black and brown.”“That is page one in the playbook,” he said.To illustrate his point, Wise pointed to “Minnesota Nice”: A version of the Golden Rule that three liberal college students told him during a visit there in the ’90s explained why they had no racism on their campus. “I always find it odd when white people tell me there’s no racism anywhere. I’ve been white a long time. It’s like when men tell me there’s no patriarchy and no sexism; I’m inclined to check with women.” — Tim Wise Related How to navigate the gender landscape at work Learning to talk about race in the workplace “I thought, now, that is weird. First, because I’m an antiracism educator, so why would you bring me here? It seems like a waste of my time and your money, because I most assuredly am cashing your check,” he said.“Second, I always find it odd when white people tell me there’s no racism anywhere. I’ve been white a long time. It’s like when men tell me there’s no patriarchy and no sexism; I’m inclined to check with women. So I started asking black folks and Latinx and Asian and indigenous people and they all went, ‘Oh, God,’ with the kind of eye roll you can actually hear, and they all said, ‘Minnesota Nice is killing us.’”“Minnesota Nice,” it turned it out, was a quiet cover for sustaining the status quo. If the marginalized minority groups wanted to question it they had to raise their voices, “and then they got tagged as Not Nice,” Wise said.What diversity meant to the young Minnesotans, Wise said, “was, ‘Y’all can come be part of our thing, but don’t you dare forget that it’s our thing. You can come and you can dance, but we pick the music.’”Wise said that changing an unjust status quo cannot be left to moral suasion (“White folks have never given an inch because they realized they’d been wrong”) but to advocacy and interest convergence — Derrick Bell’s theory that white people support racial equity only when it benefits them, such as when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to save the union, or the Civil Rights advances of the 1960s that let America claim to be land of the free while it promoted capitalism against communism.“Think about some of the things that have changed since ’01. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ was still policy. You had presidential candidates who wouldn’t have dreamt of talking about marriage equality. We weren’t talking about transphobia. How did that happen in 17 years?” he said. “Because of the work of advocates throughout society pushing to change the narrative.”To effect change, he said, “We have to have that moment of interest convergence where we go to the dominant group and say, ‘We get that you’re scared, but it’s more frightening to see the division in this country because we haven’t learned to share.’“If you think that division is painful now, stick around and don’t do anything about it, and then see where we are in 15 or 20 years. This is self help.”During a lead-in discussion moderated by Boston Globe columnist Renee Graham, panelist Allison Manswell, the results officer of Path Forward Consulting, agreed with Wise’s point that “Power doesn’t concede power.”,“People who traditionally had power, were accustomed to power, are now facing a world that has changed. Some of what we’re seeing is the grasping of power,” she said. “We’re going to have to make a decision about what we’re willing to do, individually or collectively, to shake that.”“It requires real change,” said Sandra Upton, vice president of educational initiatives for the training and consulting company Cultural Intelligence Center. “Creating a diverse and inclusive environment requires commitment. It requires work. It requires a willingness to give up something. That’s the real challenge about why inclusion is so difficult.”Stephanie Huckel, senior global program manager for diversity and inclusion at the gaming company IGT, said managers can foster inclusion through respectful, one-on-one engagement, while Fosberg said that intergroup contact that lets individuals share their stories adds to a sense of belonging.“I think we often let ourselves off the hook by saying belonging is difficult to measure,” said Manswell. “What about if instead we looked for a ‘Stop Do’ list? Look for tangible evidence of things that make people feel they don’t belong, and get rid of them.”Author and activist Michael Fosberg said that it can be especially hard to discuss differences when it comes to gender and sexual identity. “There isn’t one way to have a conversation about this,” he said. “We need to get comfortable being uncomfortable.”,“It’s not enough to have the discussion, it’s not enough to be aware, it’s not enough to be sensitive. The bottom line is it’s a set of skills that can be learned. Cultural intelligence is a form of intelligence that can actually be measured,” said Upton. “It takes a little education, but not only do they eventually get it, they get excited about it.”Manswell said it is hardest to foster inclusion and acceptance of significant political differences. “I’m still struggling with this particular one,” she said. “The biggest a-ha I had for why this has become so difficult is that is we used to look at political differences and they were grounded in economic policies and ways of doing things. [Now] the conversation we’re having as if it were a political conversation is actually a humanity conversation. Humanity has gotten enmeshed in politics.”“We really are talking about all of us,” said Huckel. “How do we draw people into the conversation? By reminding them we’re also talking about you. We’re not talking about ‘the other.’ The personal is political and the political is personal. Political decisions have very real ramifications on our lives.”The seminar also included an appearance by Nina Livingstone, a journalist and public speaker who lost her sight and hearing in 2000. Livingstone talked about occasional public misunderstandings when her senses were still failing — drawing a crowd at Bloomingdale’s with a long conversation with a fashionable woman who turned out to be a mannequin; having a bank clerk, asked to repeat herself, tell her loudly and clearly, “You have $12.15 in your account. Do you want to withdraw?” — as well as episodes of empathy, such as the man who approached as she walked through Harvard Square with her mobility cane to ask if she was able to see anything at all.“He asked about my condition [Usher syndrome], and I told him, and it turned out he’d heard of it. He was a student at Harvard Medical School,” she said. “I loved this. I felt like I was included somehow. And I don’t want to be ignored.”The conference was offered in partnership through the FAS Dean’s Office, FAS Human Resources, and the FAS Office of Diversity Relations and Communications. To view the conference video, click here. LGBTQ language and institutional responsibility are where it begins read more
When Leon Balogun had his first Premier League berth for Brightonand Hove Albion in the Week Two 3-2 win against Manchester United, the Nigerian international felt his dream had finally come true. However, more than mid-way into the season, he is yet to establish himself as the preferred central defender of the SeagullsWhen Leon Balogun moved to Premier League side, Brighton and Hove Albion in the summer after nine years of playing in the German League, he admitted it would not be a walk in the park donning the colours of the Seagulls as he had to fight for shirt with the two central defenders already in the club fold- Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy. However, his opportunity came earlier than he expected as he came in as a substitute in just two weeks into the Premier League against Manchester United.Balogun has indeed expressed delight with his home debut for Brighton and Hove Albion after he shone brilliantly for the homers. “Thanks everyone (Brighton and Hove Albion) for the warm welcome. Couldn’t really have wished for a better debut in the EPL, beating Manchester United at home!,” Balogun tweeted.The Nigerian international, who spent the last three seasons at Mainz, believed the Premier League would be faster than the Bundesliga – but when he shared his thoughts with his teammates, “they told me this is always the kind of game you play against United. They like to slow it down a little bit sometimes.”Balogun indeed said he was surprised by Manchester United’s slow football, admitting he expected that the Premier League would be faster than the Bundesliga, although his observations about United’s attacking approach probably revealed more about José Mourinho’s (the then former United Manager) methods than the overall state of English football.“I had expected the Premier League to be quicker, but they told me this is always the kind of game you play against United. They like to slow it down a little bit sometimes,” the Nigerian defender said.Brighton and Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton was indeed delighted with Balogun’s debut performance and he was impressive as Brighton recorded their first win of the campaign.“In Balogun, you have someone you know won’t be phased. He’s played at a very good level and played in the World Cup this summer,” Hughton said.Balogun’s central defence partner, Shane Duffy said he was delighted with Balogun, saying, “He’s fitted straight in. He’s a big character in the changing room. He’s got a big voice. He’s played with big players in big games. That’s why you bring in players like that. They push us. He was great. That’s another plus for us, that strength in depth with top players. You pick up injuries and suspensions so you need these kinds of players to step in.”However, with the season fast winding up, the Super Eagles player remains just a fringe player in the relegation battling team.Balogun hasn’t made the sort of impact envisaged at Brighton. The Nigerian was expected to stroll into Chris Hughton’s team after joining on a free transfer from Mainz in 2018. With 24 Premier League rounds gone, however, he’s started just five matches.Despite an incredible career that has spanned over a decade, Balogun would have still felt like a little boy when he heard of Brighton’s interest last summer. England is favourite destination for African football tourists, especially Nigerians.For Balogun, it was a first-hand experience. The Bundesliga was all he knew. Born in Berlin to a Nigerian dad, the 30-year-old took his first footballing lessons at hometown club, Türkiyemspor Berlin. He then practiced his craft at five other Deutschland sides, including Werder Bremen.The Premier League is different. There’s more cash, quality players, odds and managers as well as better coverage. Balogun didn’t want to be left. He had no qualms moving abroad, with the FIFA World Cup on the horizon. That decision is already hurting the Nigerian.Balogun is the third choice in Hughton’s centre-back hierarchy behind Duffy and Dunk. He’s been featured nine times across all competitions albeit the only contribution was a screamer against Crystal Palace. While Hughton deserves some slack for the limited game time, Balogun is culpable too.Indeed, the Nigerian has an imposing physical presence, standing at 6ft 3. He is fearless in tackles and brave on the air. He provides additional threat during set pieces and could occasionally provide that odd goal to win games. However, Balogun isn’t gifted in terms of pace.It was, however, a dream come true for the former Mainz of Germany defender when he came off the bench to open his goal account for Brighton against Crystal Palace at the American Express Community Stadium.He made his fourth league appearance for Chris Hughton’s men against Crystal Palace as a first-half substitute and 25 seconds after, scored with his first touch to help his side claim a 3-1 victory.“For me, it’s another dream in this football calendar year that I wanted to come true. I made my dream come true of playing in a World Cup and I made a big dream come true in moving to the Premier League. Now scoring in the Premier League with my first touch in this game, it’s kind of unreal. I’m just happy. When I saw the ball bouncing I knew it was going to be tough, so I just hit it and luckily I hit it right. It was a great feeling,” Balogun said.“Even though I might not be 100 per cent satisfied, I think I still did well and my goal was probably the most important thing about my performance. I personally feel that I never really got into the game – viewers might think different but you always have a personal level that you want to reach, and I don’t know that I really got it.”“My job is to be ready, there is no question about it, and the club knows what I can do. I feel a certain trust even when I’m not starting which makes it easy for me to fit in to what s Dunk or Duffy have been doing. It’s never easy and you always want to play, but at the same time you have to be professional about it. You have to be ready for situations and moments and I think I was ready every time I came on – that is important,” he added.The Premier League’s tempo is at an extraordinary level and requires defenders to flow with it. More often than not, Balogun is left in no man’s land, chasing attackers. At 30, the Nigerian doesn’t have age on his side. He must improve on this. He must improve on this aspect to break the Duffy-Dunk duopoly.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram read more
A turnaround at the AltaGas plant in Taylor, B.C. yielded an unexpected reading.On Friday, an American contractor conducting tests on the plant discovered what Dave Tulk, the divisional vice-president for the extraction and transmission division of AltaGas, calls “slightly elevated” mercury readings, around two to three times higher than normal levels.- Advertisement -Tulk says mercury is not something that is normally tested for because it is not typically found in the western Canadian sedimentary basin.According to the American Environmental Protection Agency, mercury is a minor component of all fossil fuels, including natural gas. It is a toxic element which can cause several sensory problems, including co-ordination problems, if someone is exposed to it.Tulk says this is the first time mercury levels have been tested for at the plant since it first began operating in 1983. However, once mercury was discovered in a few of the vessels he says all work stopped and the company spent the weekend attempting to find the source of the mercury and how long the plant may have been exposed to the elevated levels. He says the company has called in experts to help answer those questions and has contacted all necessary regulatory agencies.Despite this being the first time mercury has been detected in the plant, he says there is no indication Taylor residents should be concerned about the elevated levels. He also says the company hopes to continue with the turnaround within the next few days.Advertisement read more