monkey's uncle

notes on human ecology, population, and infectious disease

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More Guilt Over Agricultural Disease Names

December 16th, 2013 · No Comments

In the spirit of my professed guilty amusement about the names of agricultural diseases, I just chuckled a bit at a promedmail update of what sounded like a biblical plague that had to be sent directly to the Apocrypha: Crayfish plague in Israel. Watch out, Pharaoh…

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Tags: Infectious Disease

Guess What: Food Prices Still Near All-Time Highs

July 14th, 2011 · 1 Comment

The FAO Food Price Index (FPI) remains at near record-highs, and this at a time when record droughts and calamitous famine threaten the Horn of Africa. Using the latest data from the FAO FPI page, I plot here the FPI time series from 1990-2011. World food prices are high and have remained so since the […]

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Tags: Biofuels · Diet & Nutrition · Human Ecology

Jennifer Burney Lecture

March 24th, 2011 · No Comments

I’ve spent the better part of the day editing web pages as I prepare to teach two courses this spring. Given that I’ve more-or-less wasted the day with necessary but not especially intellectually rewarding tasks, I thought that I would take a moment to post something really important and scientifically interesting. Jennifer Burney, of Stanford’s […]

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Tags: Biofuels · Diet & Nutrition · Human Ecology

Stanford Migration and Adaptation Workshop

March 14th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Information on our NICHD-funded April formal demography workshop on migration and adaptation is now posted on the website Stanford Center for Population Research (SCPR, pronounced ”scooper”).  SCPR is itself hosted by Stanford’s Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS), which is also the umbrella organization for the Methods of Analysis Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS), a […]

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Tags: Demography

Food Prices Continue to Rise

February 3rd, 2011 · No Comments

Newly released data by FAO show that food prices continued to rise, up 3.4% from the last month of 2010. This is yet another record high. Here is a plot based on the FAO data (click to enlarge): An article in today’s New York Times attributes much of the rise in price to uncertainty over […]

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Tags: Diet & Nutrition · Human Ecology

Worrying Trends

January 6th, 2011 · No Comments

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization‘s food price index is at an all-time high, meaning that the food security of millions of people is in jeopardy. In the plot below (click to enlarge), we can see that the FPI currently just exceeds its previous high in June of 2008, when riots over food shortages were […]

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Tags: Diet & Nutrition · Human Ecology

Mutant Fungus Threatening World Wheat Supplies

June 2nd, 2010 · 2 Comments

A mutant strain of the wheat stem rust fungus, Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici, has emerged that threatens as much as 60 million tons of world wheat production.  The story of this emergence can be found here.  There is a clearinghouse of information on the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative website. The emergence of such a […]

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Tags: Human Ecology · Infectious Disease

Sustainable Agriculture for the Future?

July 12th, 2009 · No Comments

Craig Hadley drew my attention to this terrific piece by Paul Roberts on the complexities of truly sustainable agriculture.  Food for though, as it were…

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Tags: Diet & Nutrition · Human Ecology

Biofuels and Water Use

October 5th, 2008 · 1 Comment

An opinion piece in the IHT this morning raises the important point that stepped up biofuel production may tax already strained world fresh water supplies.  Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman and former chief executive of Nestlé, suggests that if world biofuel production targets are met, water withdrawals for agriculture can increase by as much as one-third.  Brabeck-Letmathe writes, Seventy percent of all […]

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Tags: Biofuels · Diet & Nutrition

Volatile Rice Prices

September 15th, 2008 · 2 Comments

There is a new Rice Outlook report from the Economic Research Service of the USDA.  I was surprised to see a forecast record harvest for the coming year, given the crazy price movements in rice this year and the dire predictions that were the rule earlier this summer.  At Costco in California, they actually rationed […]

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Tags: Biofuels · Diet & Nutrition · Human Ecology