Gidon Eshel

Gidon Eshel
Bard College · Environmental Science and Physics Programs

PhD
In '21-'22 , I mostly push forward my current book, Planetary Eating (MIT Press)

About

121
Publications
33,552
Reads
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3,059
Citations
Introduction
I am interested in most anything that can be rigorously calculated. Mostly about environmental matters, but not only. Among the few things I am not really interested in are purely qualitative topics.
Additional affiliations
June 1999 - April 2008
University of Chicago
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
May 1996 - July 1998
Harvard University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
September 1991 - March 1996
Lamont - Doherty Earth Observatory Columbia University
Position
  • graduae student

Publications

Publications (121)
Article
Full-text available
Fish and other aquatic foods (blue foods) present an opportunity for more sustainable diets1,2. Yet comprehensive comparison has been limited due to sparse inclusion of blue foods in environmental impact studies3,4 relative to the vast diversity of production5. Here we provide standardized estimates of greenhouse gas, nitrogen, phosphorus, freshwat...
Article
Micronutrient deficiencies constitute a pressing public health concern, especially in developing countries. As a dense source of bioavailable nutrients, aquatic foods can help alleviate such deficiencies. Developing aquaculture that provides critical micronutrients without sacrificing the underlying environmental resources that support these food p...
Article
Full-text available
Beef is the most resource intensive of all commonly used food items. Disproportionate synthetic fertilizer use during beef production propels a vigorous one-way factory-to-ocean nutrient flux, which alternative agriculture models strive to rectify by enhancing in-farm biogeochemical cycling. Livestock, esp. cattle, are central to these models, whos...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID epidemic which has been holding us under its thumb for over a year now has so far claimed about 600,000 U.S. lives1. By any human measure, and compared to most historical mass casualty events, this is a staggering, epic toll. Yet suppose you found out that it only takes the U.S. food system about 30 years to claim as many lives by air pol...
Data
This is a simple text data file (to be opened with any editor, preferably the great Emacs) with exact numerical values of all the figures in Eshel 2021: Small-scale integrated farming systems can abate continental-scale nutrient leakage, PLOS Biology.
Article
Full-text available
Environmentally motivated voluntary diet modifications are the focus of much research and public discourse. Yet the nuanced multi-faceted, multi-dimensional nature of agriculture-earth interactions, and limited public environmental knowledge likely combine to undermine the efficacy of environmentally motivated dietary shifts, squandering limited go...
Article
Full-text available
Aquatic foods are a critical source of human nutrition in many developing countries. As a result, declines in wild-caught fish landings threaten nutritionally vulnerable populations. Aquaculture presents an opportunity to meet local demand, but it also places pressure on natural resource inputs and causes a range of environmental impacts. Here, we...
Article
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In a plainly worded target article whose sagacity and import can hardly be overstated, Wiebers & Feigin place the recent COVID-19 crisis in historic perspective. They warn us that unless we make sweeping changes the next pandemics are all but preordained. They offer a blueprint for dramatically lowering the likelihood of future pandemics.
Article
Full-text available
An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Article
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Because meat is more resource intensive than vegetal protein sources, replacing it with efficient plant alternatives is potentially desirable, provided these alternatives prove nutritionally sound. We show that protein conserving plant alternatives to meat that rigorously satisfy key nutritional constraints while minimizing cropland, nitrogen ferti...
Article
Full-text available
2 inexorable rise propels anthropogenic climate change. Modeling and mechanistically understanding C uptake by the terrestrial biosphere are thus of broad societal concerns. Yet despite considerable progress, scaling up point observations to landscape and larger scales continues to frustrate analyses of the anthropogenically perturbed global C cycl...
Article
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Food loss is widely recognized as undermining food security and environmental sustainability. However, consumption of resource-intensive food items instead of more efficient, equally nutritious alternatives can also be considered as an effective food loss. Here we define and quantify these opportunity food losses as the food loss associated with co...
Article
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Food production dominates land, water and fertilizer use and is a greenhouse gas source. In the United States, beef production is the main agricultural resource user overall, as well as per kcal or g of protein. Here, we offer a possible, non-unique, definition of ‘sustainable’ beef as that subsisting exclusively on grass and by-products, and quant...
Article
Full-text available
Shifting dietary patterns for environmental benefits has long been advocated. In relation to mitigating climate change, the debate has been more recent, with a growing interest from policy makers, academics, and society. Many researchers have highlighted the need for changes to food consumption in order to achieve the required greenhouse gas (GHG)...
Article
Full-text available
Analysis of stability under linearized dynamics is central to ecology. We highlight two key limitations of the widely used traditional analysis. First, we note that while stability at fixed points is often the focus, ecological systems may spend less time near fixed points, and more time responding to stochastic environmental forcing by exhibiting...
Data
Linearization. (TEX)
Data
The assumed functions. (TEX)
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Fixed points. (TEX)
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Comparison of the nonlinear (top) and linearized (bottom) flow throughout the relevant state range. (TEX)
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Linear vs. Nonlinear flow throughout the state space. (TEX)
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The three parameter sets we use for the grass–herbivore model. (TEX)
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Governing equations. (TEX)
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Nonlinear solution and initial state. (TEX)
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On the non-simultaneity of optimally exciting E and E−1. (TEX)
Code
Grass-herbivore interaction model used in Eshel and Carmel 2017 PLOSOne
Data
Matlab code generated time stepping data accompanying Eshel and Carmel 2017 PLOSOne.
Article
Full-text available
Feeding a growing population while minimizing environmental degradation is a global challenge requiring thoroughly rethinking food production and consumption. Dietary choices control food availability and natural resource demands. In particular, reducing or avoiding consumption of low production efficiency animal-based products can spare resources...
Article
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Livestock farming incurs large and varied environmental burdens, dominated by beef. Replacing beef with resource efficient alternatives is thus potentially beneficial, but may conflict with nutritional considerations. Here we show that protein-equivalent plant based alternatives to the beef portion of the mean American diet are readily devisable, a...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines recent southern New York State climate changes as reflected in a detailed hourly climate record collected ~110 km due north of New York City since 1988, including comprehensive surface radiation data. Comparing 1988–2000 and 2001–2014 means, the area has warmed, dominated by a 0.5–0.7 K summer warming. Daytime warming exceeds ni...
Data
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An analysis of the climate impact of various forms of beef production is carried out, with a particular eye to the comparison between systems relying primarily on grasses grown in pasture ('grass-fed' or 'pastured' beef) and systems involving substantial use of manufactured feed requiring significant external inputs in the form of synthetic fertili...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Executive Summary: The main findings of this report are: (1) No additional transmission capacity into the downstate region is needed. In fact, an updated model built, presented and tested below, shows even lower likelihood of peak loads exceeding capacity than previously estimated. (2) NYISO's critiques of the Eshel (2014) report fall into two cate...
Article
Full-text available
We thank Tichenor (1) for the attention to our paper (2). In it, we repeatedly stress the need for augmented and more refined data, and it is in this spirit we welcome Tichenor's letter. However, as shown in Fig. 1, Tichenor's approach, based on ana-lyzing a single farm in Sweden (3), yields beef greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are within 9% of...
Article
Full-text available
We thank Metson et al. (1) for their addition to our paper (2). These authors raise an important point, and are definitely right in pointing out the global importance of phosphorous and the dominant role of the livestock industry in its use. Our omission of phosphorous from our calculations, which Metson et al. point out, joins several other import...
Article
Full-text available
The high environmental costs of raising livestock are now widely appreciated, yet consumption of animal-based food items continues and is expanding throughout the world. Consumers' ability to distinguish among, and rank, various interchangeable animal-based items is crucial to reducing environmental costs of diets. However, the individual environme...
Article
Full-text available
Livestock production impacts air and water quality, ocean health, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on regional to global scales and it is the largest use of land globally. Quantifying the environmental impacts of the various livestock categories, mostly arising from feed production, is thus a grand challenge of sustainability science. Here, we qu...
Technical Report
Full-text available
We quantify greenhouse gas emissions of small-scale, organic tomato production in New York’s Hudson Valley, expansively considering manufacturing and transportation of all production inputs, on-farm resource use, and post-harvest transportation to consumer. Expressing emissions as equivalent energy use, we find an (edible output):(fossil fuel input...
Chapter
This chapter provides an overview of the second part of the book. This part is the crux of the matter: how to analyze actual data. While this part builds on Part 1, especially on linear algebra fundamentals covered in Part 1, the two are not redundant. The main distinguishing characteristic of Part 2 is its nuanced grayness. In the ideal world of a...
Chapter
Chapter 4 discussed the eigenvalue/eigenvector diagonalization of a matrix. Perhaps the biggest problem for this to be very useful in data analysis is the restriction to square matrices. It has already been emphasized time and again that data matrices, unlike dynamical operators, are rarely square. The algebraic operation of the singular value deco...
Chapter
This chapter introduces some of the basic players of the algebraic drama about to unfold, and the uniform notations used in this book. While Chapter 3 is a more formal introduction to linear algebra, this introductory chapter presents some of the most basic elements, and permitted manipulations and operations, of linear algebra. It covers the follo...
Chapter
Eigenanalysis and its numerous offsprings form the suite of algebraic operations most important and relevant to data analysis, as well as to dynamical systems, modeling, numerical analysis, and related key branches of applied mathematics. This chapter introduces and places in a broader context the algebraic operation of eigen-decomposition. To have...
Chapter
This chapter briefly sets out the reasons for analyzing data. The simplest need for data analysis arises most naturally in disciplines addressing phenomena that are, in all likelihood, inherently nondeterministic (e.g., feelings and psychology or stock market behavior). Since such fields of knowledge are not governed by known fundamental equations,...
Chapter
This chapter discusses theoretical autocovariance, autocorrelation functions of autoregressive models of orders 1 and 2, and autocorrelation function-derived timescale. The autocorrelation function of a scalar time series is a prime tool for estimating the characteristic timescale separating successive independent realizations in the time series. A...
Chapter
This chapter focuses on the relevance of statistics in deterministic science. While most physical phenomena of concern to natural sciences are governed by fundamental, mostly known, physics, their application to such complex systems as the ocean, atmosphere, or ecosystems is monumentally difficult. For most such systems, the full problems—the value...
Chapter
This chapter focuses on empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs). One of the most useful and common eigen-techniques in data analysis is the construction of EOFs. EOFs are a transform of the data; the original set of numbers is transformed into a different set with some desirable properties. In this sense the EOF transform is similar to other transfor...
Chapter
This chapter presents some homework exercises on the topics discussed in chapters 3–8, along with their corresponding solutions. It also provides a suggested midterm exam and a final exam.
Book
A severe thunderstorm morphs into a tornado that cuts a swath of destruction through Oklahoma. How do we study the storm’s mutation into a deadly twister? Avian flu cases are reported in China. How do we characterize the spread of the flu, potentially preventing an epidemic? The way to answer important questions like these is to analyze the spatial...
Chapter
This chapter provides an introduction to linear algebra. Topics covered include vector spaces, matrix rank, fundamental spaces associated with A ɛ ℝM×N, and Gram–Schmidt orthogonalization. In summary, an M × N matrix is associated with four fundamental spaces. The column space is the set of all M -vectors that are linear combinations of the columns...
Chapter
Chapter 11 discussed one of the many methods available for simultaneously analyzing more than one data set. While powerful and useful (especially for unveiling favored state evolution pathways), the extended empirical orthogonal function (EEOF) procedure has some important limitations. Notably, because the state dimensions rapidly expand as state v...
Chapter
This chapter summarizes pictorially some of the linear algebraic foundations discussed thus far by revisiting the fundamental theorem of linear algebra, the unifying view of matrices, vectors, and their interactions. To make the discussion helpful and informal yet rigorous, and to complement the slightly more formal introduction of the basic ideas...
Chapter
This chapter focuses on linear regression, the process of identifying the unique model that best explains a set of observed data among a specified class of general models. Regression thus occupies a uniquely important position at the very interface of modeling and data analysis. Regression arises very often, in various guises, in handling and analy...
Book
A severe thunderstorm morphs into a tornado that cuts a swath of destruction through Oklahoma. How do we study the storm's mutation into a deadly twister? Avian flu cases are reported in China. How do we characterize the spread of the flu, potentially preventing an epidemic? The way to answer important questions like these is to analyze the spatial...
Article
Full-text available
Modern agriculture alters natural biological and geophysical processes, with magnitudes proportional to its spatial extent. Cultivation is also the main cause of artificially enhanced reactive nitrogen (Nr) availability in natural ecosystems. Sustainable food production should thus minimize Nr use while maximizing human-destined caloric output per...
Article
An optimization method could aid agricultural decision making by balancing societal desire(s) with resource management.
Article
I use a unique, ~20 year long, data set of meteorological observations, including those collected by upward- and downward-looking, full spectrum, radiometers, to examine the surface radiative budget in a rural site ~100 miles north of New York City. Despite the expected clear and significant warming trend, the surface radiative budget becomes progr...
Article
Full-text available
This article discusses a few basic geophysical processes, which collectively indicate that several nutritionally adverse elements of current Western diets also yield environmentally harmful food consumption patterns. We address oceanic dead zones, which are at the confluence of oceanography, aquatic chemistry, and agronomy and which are a clear env...
Article
While the environmental burdens exerted by food production are addresses by several recent publications, the contributions of animal-based food production, and in particular red meat---by far the most environmentally exacting of all large-scale animal-based foods---are less well quantified. We present several simple calculations that quantify some...
Article
While numerous numerical climate hind- and forecasts exist, empirical characterizations of changes in the surface radiative budget are exceedingly rare. This situation---which reflects the dearth of long-term, reliable, surface radiation measurements---is most unsatisfying, as it renders a central element of the climate simulation machinery, the ra...
Article
The adverse environmental effects, especially energy use and resultant GHG emissions, of food production and consumption are becoming more widely appreciated and increasingly well documented. Our insights into the thorny problem of how to mitigate some of those effects, however, are far less evolved. Two of the most commonly advocated strategies ar...
Article
Full-text available
Evolutionary pressures due to variation in climate play an important role in shaping phenotypic variation among and within species and have been shown to influence variation in phenotypes such as body shape and size among humans. Genes involved in energy metabolism are likely to be central to heat and cold tolerance. To test the hypothesis that cli...
Data
Correlation between Climate Variables and Control SNPs (A) shows the frequency distribution of the Spearman rank correlation test statistic (ρ) for the control SNPs for each of the climate variables. The critical values for α = 0.01 from the theoretical distribution are shown by vertical lines. Panel B shows the distribution of Spearman rank correl...
Data
Literature Review Results for Type 2 Diabetes (513 KB DOC)
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Eigenvectors from Principal Components Analysis (35 KB DOC)
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Proportion of SNPs Significant with RAPTOR Included in the Analysis (37 KB DOC)
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Literature Review Results for Obesity (1.0 MB DOC)
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Literature Review Results for Hypertension (636 KB DOC)
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Literature Review Results for Dyslipidemia (374 KB DOC)
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Selection of Candidate Genes for Genotyping (93 KB DOC)
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Literature Review Results for Metabolic Syndrome (113 KB DOC)
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Proportion of Variance Explained by Each Principal Component (30 KB DOC)
Article
Full-text available
Aim Climate is recognized for the significant role it plays in the global distribution of plant species diversity. We test the extent to which two aspects of climate, namely temperature and precipitation, explain the spatial distribution of high taxonomic groupings (plant families) at a regional spatial resolution (the Neotropics). Our goal is to p...
Article
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1] The dynamic and thermodynamic processes that underlie the exceptionally high evaporation over the northern Red Sea are examined. Through a combination of data analysis and a simple numerical model we show that the key boundary layer dehumidifier is ageostrophic cross-channel sea breezes. This circulation develops semidiurnally in response to the...
Article
Deep Pacific carbonate preservation reconstructions are at odds suggesting both enhanced preservation (Farell and Prell, 1989) and increased dissolution (Broecker and Clark, 2003). We present a reconstruction of the western equatorial Pacific deep-water carbonate ion profile for the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and a deglacial preservation event base...
Article
Established meterological theory of the meridional extent of the tropics and their transition into the midlatitudes suggests that tropical and subtropical SSTs should go in and out of phase with the wax and wane of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets. The large range in the amplitude of ice volume changes during Mid-Pleistocene gives us an opportunity t...
Article
The lead author has previously devised a simple yet powerful numerical model of land-ocean-atmosphere dynamic interactions near a coastline (Eshel and Heavens 2007, Paleoceanography, in press). The model dynamical core, tested extensively against observations in the northern Red Sea, performs well and tracks closely disparate observations while ill...
Article
Full-text available
The intertropical convergence zone and the African monsoon system are highly sensitive to climate forcing at orbital and millennial timescales. Both systems influence the strength and direction of the trade winds along northwest Africa and thus directly impact coastal upwelling. Sediment cores from the northwest African margin record upwelling-rela...
Article
The northern Red Sea evaporation is among the highest in the tropics. While traditionally explained in terms of subsidence associated with large scale, slowly varying, planetary waves, the subsidence magnitude consistent with this explanation fails to (1)close the buoyancy budget; and (2) explain the exceptionally high observed evaporation. I will...
Article
Full-text available
Using a high-resolution 230Th normalized record of sediment flux, we document the deglacial and Holocene history of North African aridity and coastal upwelling at Ocean Drilling Program Hole 658C. At both the end of the Younger Dryas and after the 8.2 ka event, there are significant drops in terrigenous accumulation at our site, indicating an incre...