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31 March 2017

Wetlands and Flood Mitigation: The 10 Percent Solution

Following the Great Flood of 1993, an official report called for more research to find ways to prevent flood devastation, apparently unaware the problem had been mostly solved, conceptually over a decade earlier. But taking action through the implementation of a national wetland restoration program has faced intractable political and economic obstacles.



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1 January 2016

Agricultural Runoff and Ohio’s Senate Bill 1

In response to the August 2014 shutdown of Toledo’s water supply due to microcystin contamination, the Ohio legislature passed Senate Bill 1, which regulates fertilizer and manure application to farm fields. Essentially, the new regulations prohibit spreading manure or fertilizer in the Lake Erie Watershed when soils are frozen, snow-covered or saturated, or if there is a more than 50% chance of at least one-half inch of rain in the …



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28 June 2015

The World’s Beaches (Book Review)

For your summer reading edification, this is a wonderful book to take to the beach. Or, if you can’t make the trip, it’s a vicarious journey to beaches around the globe, and an invitation to appreciate their beauty, idiosyncracies, and vulnerability. The full title is The World’s Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline by Orrin H. Pilkey, William J. Neal, Joseph T. Kelley, and J. Andrew …



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17 August 2014

Soil Connections: Drought, Dust and Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

An unfortunate sequence of events involving drought, depleted water resources, wastewater management, antibiotic resistant bacteria (ABR) and dust storms may pose a real health risk in desert states – and, perhaps, beyond. Briefly, here’s the sequence of steps, beginning with drought and ending with a respiratory infection: 1. Arid states can’t grow everything they want with what little rainfall they get – so they irrigate. 2. Limited fresh water used …



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19 July 2012

Introducing the European Geoscience Union – Soil Systems Science Division

The European Geoscience Union, a leader in the free dissemination of scientific research, has rolled out its Soil Systems Science Division (SSSD). The SSSD has a blog newsletter with some fine articles and beautiful images about soils and surface geology of Europe. When Editor Jessica Drake (Soilduck) kindly invited me to write a short “why I do soil science” biographical piece, I jumped at the chance. Being that I’m American, …



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4 February 2012

Germany Moving Forward with the Third Industrial Revolution

Despite the high up-front costs of re-building a national power infrastructure, largely decentralized and based on renewable energy sources, Germany remains Europe’s economic powerhouse. In 2007, the European Parliament made a written declaration to establish a Third Industrial Revolution “through partnership with committed regions and cities, SMEs (small and medium-size enterprises) and civil society organizations.”  With all of the financial trouble going on in parts of Europe, and Germany’s central role …



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28 November 2011

Using Thermogravimetry for Carbon Accounting

Thermogravimetry-Derivative Thermogravimetry (TG/DTG) is a simple and inexpensive method to account for recent soil carbon sequestration. As such, it’s a good choice to be a standardized test in international carbon trading markets. More about TG/DTG shortly, but first, why is this important? Background Here in the United States, clearly, any federal legislation that seeks to reduce carbon emissions, such as by taxation or carbon trading, has no chance of getting through …



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10 November 2011

Australia Passes a Carbon Tax

In a bold move, Australia has passed a carbon tax. The 500 largest polluters will pay $23 per tonne. Farmers can cash in by selling carbon offsets, presumably through ways including soil carbon sequestration. Obviously, the measure’s not popular with everyone. Australia mines and uses a lot of coal, even though, as part of the law, there is a lot of money appropriated to support displaced jobs. Scientific American has the …



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21 October 2011

BBC: Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project Finds Earth is Warming

This is big. The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project was launched by skeptics and included funding from the Koch brothers in response to “Climategate.” That fiasco began with the hacking of the University of East Anglia climate researchers’ emails. Read more at the BBC.



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19 July 2011

Throwing in with the Pickens Plan

The family’s out with the van shopping or something, so, I’ve got the place to myself. I downloaded an archived broadcast (April 2011) of C-Span’s coverage of a National Press Club lunch meeting. Obviously, I lead an exciting life. The guest speakers were Ted Turner and T. Boone Pickens, talking about energy. Pickens makes a good sales pitch and I’m about ready to “throw in” with his energy security plan …



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