Category Archives: Research

Life Cycle Assessment of California Almond Production

Very pleased to announce the open-access publication of the first two chapters of my dissertation in Yale University’s Journal of Industrial Ecology, here and here.

In other news, our earlier work has been cited in an op-ed highlighting the potential climate benefits of perennial crop production in California, a facet of the climate-water-agriculture nexus that is too often passed over in favor of water consumption histrionics (Mother Jones, looking in your direction…. just saying…).

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Although the overall gist of the article is correct, the values he cites are based on an earlier white paper and do not represent our most up-to-date findings. New sh*t has come to light, man, which supersedes the work mentioned in this article – which hopefully will be updated soon.

ISIE at University of Surrey, Guildford UK


Enjoying the 2015 conference for the International Society for Industrial Ecology here in Guildford, UK. Presenting the poster this afternoon, and looking forward to the food systems sessions tomorrow. Not to mention the gala dinner tonight. Pictures soon.

UPDATE: Actually forgot I never registered for gala dinner. Good thing though, we had an excellent evening on the town. Call-out for The Drummond, excellent local gastro-pub which became our evening home base for most of the week and was kind enough to reprint my receipts at the end of the night.

cathedral group shot guildford

Almond Field Day

April 9th – Down outside of Fresno to give a semi-formal talk for the Sustainable Cotton Project’s Almond Field Day. Touched the basics of agricultural LCA and some carbon footprint results for almond and other major energy crops. See the videos here or here. Thanks to Marcia Gibbs and Jenny MacDonald for making this opportunity available!

There was a lot of interest from growers about the recent media frenzy surrounding almond water use – we discussed the LCA implications and important points about the return on water use for perennial crop production.

Take home: we need to carefully consider what we (the good people of California, the grower, and the fruit and nut consumer) are getting for every gallon of water used – including land use benefits from carbon storage, biomass coproduct production, and biodiversity, and what alternate land uses might be expected in the absence of perennial cropping; where the water is coming from and being used and what is its ultimate fate (return to water cycle in CA vs export); and what are appropriate agricultural products for comparison.

Without examining the complete picture, metrics can be chosen arbitrarily for use as propaganda (for example, almonds use a gallon per nut! Shocking!) and as such do more to obfuscate than to inform. And of course, this is where LCA can step in and save the day.