FSI scholars approach their research on the environment and energy from regulatory, economic and societal angles. The Center on Food Security and the Environment weighs the connection between climate change and agriculture; the impact of biofuel expansion on land and food supply; how to increase crop yields without expanding agricultural lands; and the trends in aquaculture. FSE’s research spans the globe – from the potential of smallholder irrigation to reduce hunger and improve development in sub-Saharan Africa to the devastation of drought on Iowa farms. David Lobell, a senior fellow at FSI and a recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, has looked at the impacts of increasing wheat and corn crops in Africa, South Asia, Mexico and the United States; and has studied the effects of extreme heat on the world’s staple crops.
FSI researchers also examine the role of energy sources. The Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD) investigates how the production and consumption of energy affect human welfare and environmental quality. Professors assess natural gas and coal markets, as well as the smart energy grid and how to create effective climate policy in an imperfect world. This includes how state-owned enterprises – like oil companies – affect energy markets around the world. Regulatory barriers are examined for understanding obstacles to lowering carbon in energy services. Realistic cap and trade policies in California are studied, as is the creation of a giant coal market in China.