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ASU KEDtalks: Plagued with Questions

All locusts are grasshop­pers, but not all grasshop­pers are locusts. Locusts are grasshop­pers that when exposed to spe­cif­ic envi­ron­men­tal cues will form mass migra­tions and become a continental-level chal­lenge. The imme­di­ate impacts of locusts on agri­cul­ture are obvi­ous. For exam­ple, the desert locust plague in Western and Northern Africa that occurred between 2003 to 2005 cost an esti­mat­ed 2.5 bil­lion US dol­lars in crop loss­es.

Applying Algorithms to Minimize Risk

The United States plants more than 170 mil­lion acres of corn and soy­beans a year, more than any coun­try in the world. And the pri­ma­ry mech­a­nism in the US that we use to sub­si­dize agri­cul­ture is actu­al­ly called the Federal Crop Insurance Program. So, the crop insur­ance pro­gram in the US is also the largest such pro­gram glob­al­ly, with over $100 bil­lion in lia­bil­i­ties annu­al­ly. So it’s a very big pro­gram.

The Conversation #22 — Wes Jackson

You’re deal­ing with timescales that are beyond humans’ inter­est. I mean, it’s sor­ta like glob­al warm­ing. The heat that we have now built up, that car­bon was burned thir­ty years ago. It’s going to take a while for the cor­rec­tion process. So, if you have the ele­ments of the phos­pho­rus, the potas­si­um, the man­ganese, and so on, it can be built back pret­ty fast. But a short­hand way of putting it is that soil is as much of a non-renewable resource as oil. And, more impor­tant than oil. I mean, we’re talk­ing about stuff we’re made of. So that’s why I’ve said that the plow­share has destroyed more options for future gen­er­a­tions than the sword.