Michael C. Munger Offers Advance Praise for Openness to Creative Destruction

Creative destruction is the mainspring that animates growth and prosperity. Few people fully understand creative destruction; fewer still can explain it. In this remarkable book, Diamond uses compelling stories and plain English to construct the case for creative destruction, extending Schumpeter’s deep insights into the 21st century.

Michael C. Munger, Professor of Political Science, and Director, PPE Program, Duke University. Author of Tomorrow 3.0: Transaction Costs and the Sharing Economy, and other works.

Munger’s advance praise is for:
Diamond, Arthur M., Jr. Openness to Creative Destruction: Sustaining Innovative Dynamism. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming June 2019.

Entrepreneurial Farmers Benefit from Global Warming

(p. A1) LA CRETE, Alberta–The farm belt is marching northward.
Upper Alberta is bitter cold much of the year, and remote. Not much grows other than the spruce and poplar that spread out a hundred miles around Highway 88 north toward La Crete. Signs warn drivers to watch for moose and make sure their gas tanks are filled. Farms have produced mostly wheat, canola and barley. Summers were so short farmer Dicky Driedger used to tease his wife about wasting garden space growing corn.
Today, Mr. Driedger is the one growing corn. So are many other northern-Alberta farmers who are plowing up forests to create fields, which lets them grow still more of it. The new prospect of warmer-weather crops is helping lift farmland prices, with an acre near La Crete selling for nearly five times what it fetched 10 years ago.
One reason is the warming planet and longer growing seasons. Temperatures around La Crete are 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer on average annually than in 1950, Canadian federal climate records show, and the growing season is nearly two weeks longer.
“A few degrees doesn’t sound like much,” said Mr. Driedger, 56, who has farmed for three decades in the area roughly as far north as Ju-(p. A6)neau, Alaska. “Maybe it doesn’t make such a big difference on wheat or canola, but on corn, it sure does.”
. . .
Agricultural giants such as Bayer AG , Cargill Inc., DowDuPont Inc. and Bunge Ltd. are pushing to develop hardier crops, plan new logistics networks and offer new technologies designed to help farmers adapt. DowDuPont, maker of Pioneer brand seeds, said its scientists are developing crops that mature faster and in drier conditions for farmers in regions growing hotter. It is marketing weather services to help farmers better anticipate storms and weather-driven crop disease.
. . .
“I look for places that don’t yet grow soybeans, that will eventually grow soybeans,” said Joelle Faulkner, chief executive of Area One Farms, a Toronto investment firm that buys land in partnership with farmers.
On Area One land where farmers have planted soybeans, farmers’ profitability has grown 30% over three to five years, boosting the land’s value by roughly the same amount, she said. The spread of warmer-weather crops, she said, represents “the less negative effect of climate.”
. . .
Seed and pesticide giant Bayer, which bought U.S. seed purveyor Monsanto this year, is breeding corn plants to be faster-maturing to produce crops in cooler climates. Those efforts help farmers in borderline areas take advantage of climatic shifts.
A decade ago, Monsanto’s fastest-growing corn needed about 80 days to mature for harvesting, said Dan Wright, who oversees Bayer’s Canadian corn and soybean research from Guelph, Ontario. Next year, he aims to begin selling corn that will mature in 70 days, targeting farmers in places like Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Red Deer, Alberta. For corn and soybeans, the company’s two biggest crops by sales, he said, such areas represent the “edge opportunity.”

For the full story, see:
Jacob Bunge. “Warming Climate Pushes Corn North.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, Nov. 25, 2018): A1 & A6.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date November 26, 2018, and has the title “A Warming Climate Brings New Crops to Frigid Zones.”)

Regulations to Keep Herds Small May Destroy Reindeer Herding

(p. A6) Jovsset Ante Sara, a boyish-looking 26-year-old, knows his section of the tundra as if it were a city grid, every hill and valley familiar, the land acquired over generations through the meticulous work of his ancestors.
He can tell his reindeer from any others by their unique earmark. And he and his family need them to live and preserve their claim to the land as well as their traditions.
That’s why, Mr. Sara says, he has refused to abide by Norwegian laws, passed more than a decade ago, that limit the size of reindeer herds. The measure was taken, the government says, to prevent overgrazing.
Mr. Sara’s herd was capped at 75. So every year, if the herd grows, he must pare it down. At least, those are the rules. He has refused to cull his 350 to 400 reindeer, and took the government to court.
. . .
For decades, the Norwegian government has designated reindeer herding as an exclusively Sami activity, providing herding licenses tied to ancestral lands.
The regulations limiting herd sizes were passed in 2007, forcing Sami to eliminate 30 percent of their reindeer at the time.
Mr. Sara said the limits have been devastating. If he obeyed the limit, he said, he would make only $4,700 to $6,000 a year.
“Clearly it’s not possible to make a living as the job has become quite expensive, requiring snowmobiles and all the equipment that goes along with that,” he said.
The law also states that any herders who are no longer profitable can lose their license. But that is not all Mr. Sara said he would lose.
“I would lose everything my ancestors worked their entire lives to create for us today,” he said. “I will lose the land.”

For the full story, see:
Nadia Shira Cohen. “The Hinterlands Where Reindeer Are a Way of Life.” The New York Times (Monday, Dec. 17, 2018): A6.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Dec. 16, 2018, and has the title “NORWAY DISPATCH; Where Reindeer Are a Way of Life.”)

Scientists Optimistic That Great Barrier Reef Is Resilient to Global Warming

(p. A12) Among the threatened corals of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world that has been ravaged by global warming, researchers have found a reason for optimism — or at least a reason not to despair completely.
Coral reefs, which by some estimates support a quarter of all ocean life, are harmed by warming oceans. The effects can be seen in the loss of their vibrant colors, a phenomenon known as bleaching. But after ocean temperatures surged in 2016 around the Great Barrier Reef, causing severe damage, researchers found that the corals that survived were more resistant to another period of extreme warmth the following year.
“It’s one enormous natural selection event,” said Terry Hughes, an expert on coral reefs at James Cook University in Australia and the lead author of a study published Monday [December 7, 2018] in the journal Nature Climate Change. In effect, the 2016 heat wave killed off many of the most heat-sensitive corals and selected for the corals that could handle higher ocean temperatures.
“So when the heat returned in 2017, the susceptible corals had been substantially depleted,” Dr. Hughes said. “The new coral assemblage, if you like, at the beginning of the second heat waves, was made up predominantly of the more heat-tolerant species, the more robust ones.”
. . .
The study provides a measure of hope that coral reefs may be able to survive as oceans warm over the coming decades.

For the full story, see:

Kendra Pierre-Louis. “What Doesn’t Kill Reefs May Make Them Stronger.” The New York Times (Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018): A12.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Dec. 10, 2018, and has the title “Scientists Find Some Hope for Coral Reefs: The Strong May Survive.”)

The official citation to the print version of the article mentioned above, is:
Hughes, Terry P., James T. Kerry, Sean R. Connolly, Andrew H. Baird, C. Mark Eakin, Scott F. Heron, Andrew S. Hoey, Mia O. Hoogenboom, Mizue Jacobson, Gang Liu, Morgan S. Pratchett, William Skirving, and Gergely Torda. “Ecological Memory Modifies the Cumulative Impact of Recurrent Climate Extremes.” Nature Climate Change 9, no. 1 (Jan. 2019): 40-43.

Entrepreneurial Alfalfa Farmers Increase Profits by Recreating Alkali Bee Habitat

(p. C3) Remedies for bee decline can be as simple as planting flowers and reducing pesticide use, but the results are often transformational. With the right mix of flowers and nesting habitat, nearly any patch of ground can be turned into a bee garden and provide everything small bees need to forage, nest and reproduce over the course of a season. For larger, farther-ranging bee species, such gardens are important flower and nectar resources, like pit-stops scattered across the landscape.
For a glimpse of what is possible on a larger scale, bee campaigners everywhere look to a small community in rural Washington state. For three generations, alfalfa farmers in the Touchet Valley have been raising more than a valuable seed crop. Scattered across their blooming fields are wide, barren plots of salted earth, specially tended and irrigated to mimic the nesting habitat of a tiny burrowing bee. Honeybees don’t like alfalfa, but the native alkali bees thrive on it, and with the farmers’ help their numbers have skyrocketed. As the local saying goes, “You get more flowers, you get more bees.” And every bee brings increased yields and profits.

For the full essay, see:
Thor Hanson. “‘The Plight of the Humble Bee.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, June 30, 2018): C3.
(Note: the online version of the essay has the date June 29, 2018.)

Hanson’s essay is closely related to his book:
Hanson, Thor. Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees. New York: Basic Books, 2018.

U.S. Population Growth Rate Is Slowest in 80 Years

(p. A13) The population of the United States grew at its slowest pace in more than eight decades, the Census Bureau said Wednesday [December 19, 2018], as the number of deaths increased and the number of births declined.
Not since 1937, when the country was in the grips of the Great Depression and birthrates were down substantially, has it grown so slowly, with just a 0.62 percent gain between July 2017 and July 2018. With Americans getting older, fewer babies are being born and more people are dying, demographers said.
The past year saw a particularly high number of deaths — 2.81 million — and relatively few births, 3.86 million.

For the full story, see:
Sabrina Tavernise. “Growth Rate In Population Is at Lowest Since 1937.” The New York Times (Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018): A13.
(Note: bracketed date added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Dec. 19, 2018, and has the title “Fewer Births, More Deaths Result in Lowest U.S. Growth Rate in Generations.”)

Berezin Saw Entrepreneurship as Path for Women to Advance in “Male-Dominated Field”

(p. A5) By the time she reached her early 40s, Ms. Berezin was a veteran computer designer who had created an automated reservation system for United Air Lines. Even so, as an extremely rare woman in a male-dominated field, she saw little chance of reaching senior management.
Her only route to the top, Ms. Berezin concluded, was to start a company. In 1969, with two colleagues, she founded Redactron Corp. to design and make computerized typewriters, a category that became known as word processors before being subsumed into today’s more versatile desktop computers.
Ms. Berezin, who died Dec. 8 [2018] at the age of 93, served as president of Redactron, whose sales pitch was “Free the secretary,” suggesting an escape from drudgery into more challenging work. Initially lacking screens, the devices featured IBM Selectric typewriters hooked up to boxy computers allowing texts to be edited, stored and printed.
Based in Hauppauge, N.Y., the company sold machines as far afield as Australia and had more than 500 employees by 1975. A recession and high interest rates created a financial crisis that forced Ms. Berezin to sell Redactron to Burroughs Corp. in January 1976.
Once Burroughs acquired Redactron, she lost control of product development and watched as others made decisions that she said doomed her word processor.

For the full obituary, see:
James R. Hagerty. “Butting Heads With Men Suited Computer Pioneer.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018): A5.
(Note: bracketed year added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Dec. 14, 2018, and has the title “Evelyn Berezin Pioneered Word Processors and Butted Heads With Men.”)