View this email in your browser

A new interactive tool

Tracking agricultural sustainability over time
The environmental impacts of agriculture are huge. We wanted a big picture understanding of how those impacts have changed over time, so our food team created something completely new, something we've never done before: a set of interactive data visualizations. We measured output — agricultural production — against inputs — things like nitrogen and water — to see whether sustainable intensification has been successful in the United States.

The verdict? It's good news: taking production levels into account, the environmental performance of agriculture has improved in a lot of important ways. In some cases, total impacts have declined, and in others, rising impacts have been far outpaced by increasing production.

Find the desktop version here and the mobile version here.
A new interactive visual series >>>
Caroline Grunewald on reframing agricultural sustainability 
In public discourse, we often hear about a broken US agricultural system, one with huge and increasing environmental impacts. My most recent project, the Sustainable Intensification Tracker, reframes the discussion about agricultural environmental sustainability by making an important distinction between total impacts and environmental efficiency across several metrics, including greenhouse gas emissions, land use, herbicide use, fertilizer use, water use, and soil erosion.

We found that while US agriculture does have enormous impacts, its environmental efficiency has actually been improving over the past several decades by most of these metrics. In fact, compared to most other countries, US agriculture performs among the best in terms of several key metrics, such as greenhouse gas emissions per unit of agricultural production. This could have huge implications for how we think about international trade and its impact on the global environmental impact of agriculture.
Our Season 3 Finale
Tune in to the Breakthrough Dialogues podcast
We’re closing Season Three of the Breakthrough Dialogues with a lofty vision: what would it mean to leave half of the earth for nature? Today’s guest, Carly Vynne Baker, is a chief advocate of the Nature Needs Half network who manages to break down a huge idea into the gritty logistics. What are the tradeoffs between conservation and food production? How do we balance a top-down vision with bottom-up efforts? And what kind of human management will the protected Half require?

We can’t imagine a better way to wrap up our 30th episode than big-picture dreams of practical land protection. As always, let us know what you’re thinking (we’re @TheBTI on Twitter) and who you hope to hear in season four.
Half for us, half for nature >>>
📚This is what we're reading this week 📚
The first event of the Senate Climate Solution Caucus was a briefing on how agriculture can help mitigate climate change.

How Hipcamp became the Airbnb of the outdoors: a reflection on ecomodern-ish cultural spaces.

House Committee on Energy and Commerce continues hearings aimed at developing a climate bill, likely a carbon pricing scheme, by end of year.

The Breakthrough Institute
436 14th Street, Suite 820
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 550-8800

Don't want to receive further news from Breakthrough? Unsubscribe