Remarks
Office of the Science and Technology Adviser
Dr. Roger Kjelgren
Washington, DC
December 18, 2012


William Colglazier:

Good morning. Let me welcome all of you here for the Jefferson Science Fellows distinguished lecture series. Very glad to have you all here. I thought the title might attract some additional people in addition to the expertise of our speaker, but also dealing with Burma. Certainly after the political opening there and the involvement of not only the U.S. government but other governments and the World Bank and others there's tremendous interest in Burma these days so it's a great topic. This lecture is sponsored by the Office of the Science Technology Adviser to the Secretary, by the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science, and also from the science and technology office at USAID. And this year we have 12 fellows, roughly ten or so are working in the -- or nine are working in the State Department and three in USAID. The speaker today is Dr. Roger Kjelgren. He's a professor in the department of Plant, Soils, and Climate at Utah State University. As I said, working in the INR bureau, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and INR has been a great friend of the Jefferson Science Fellow program having a number of fellows over the years, so certainly want to thank them for that. Roger is a tree physiologist spanning urban horticulture, forestry, and agriculture. He got his undergraduate and master’s degree I believe at Washington State and Oregon State, then his Ph.D. at the University of Washington. His interests in terms of forestry and agriculture have been quite broad, and his teaching research encompasses efficient water management for a range of plant types and situations. The work also includes applications to public policy. For example, looking at the use of GIS tools for urban water agencies and mining water billing data for the capacity to conserve water. He also coordinates a cross-disciplinary endocrinology team to reconstruct paleo-hydroclimate in the interior west with a focus on delineating the wet and dry oscillations and an interest in the implications of climate change, the implications both for agriculture and forestry. The impact for example of increased temperatures on changing the wet and dry amplifier of the wet and dry cycles. So we're very glad to have him here today to talk about Burma's trees, the forest agriculture climate nexus.

[applause]

Roger Kjelgren:

Thanks, Bill. And I want to thank all of you coming, particularly here on the 18th of December. Christmas Eve is a week from today, so I'm sure you're all thinking about going someplace nice for that. But in the meantime, I want to cover this aspect of climate, agriculture, and forestry in Burma, Myanmar. But also show some nice pictures that you can think warm thoughts while we're in D.C. I first want to acknowledge the collaborations on the data that I’ll be showing here. There are some very talented people I work with. I want to acknowledge Brendan Buckley and Rosanne D’Arrigo at Columbia University. They are the dendrochronologists in the work I'll be showing. And a colleague, a climatologist, Simon Wang, also at Utah State University. But particularly colleagues at Kasetsart University in Thailand, where several years ago I spent a sabbatical studying forestry issues, and during that time I became fascinated with the monsoonal dry forests and very passionate about it and particularly the deciduous trees, and this is a story that's woven around that concept and that brings in agriculture climate, as well as a larger forestry issue. So the story unfolds by comparing the inner-mountain west, where I worked, to Kanchanaburi in Thailand. You would think that they have really very little in common, but they have a lot in common at two levels. One is that they both function in the same universe of water and temperature. They are what they are because of the pattern of rainfall and the pattern of temperature. Interestingly at another level, they have a great deal in common because both environments have four to six months of dry. The difference is that the other six months is also dry in the inner-mountain west while it's very wet; it's a monsoonal climate in Thailand, but that also encompasses all of Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia. And they all function within an environment governed by water and temperature.

Burma, Myanmar: significant focus, 60 million people, a large population. Its democratic awakening is gathering a lot of attention, particularly in terms of natural resources; and I do want to emphasize a common them is that the people and the agricultural production are in the central part of the country and then there's a lot of forestry around the edges. It's over 650,000 square kilometers, about the size of Texas. It's approximately 50 percent forest and like a lot of things about Burma, the data across different sources doesn't always agree. It's essentially a large bowl of trees rimming agricultural lowlands. Think of it as a large wooden bowl of Rice Krispies. Half the forests are protected by the Burmese government, and the other half is largely open, owned by the government, but subject to shifting agriculture. It has tremendously high diversity in terms of its forest type. There's over I think 1,000 different endemic species, meaning species that are found nowhere else in the world. It has subtropical evergreen species in the south, in the very wet areas, and then there's a lot of mangroves along the coast. In the mountains in the north they have temperate evergreen forests, and they have a mountain that gets up to 10,000 feet, so really not all that different from the high mountains of western Virginia and the Appalachians.

But everywhere else is largely monsoonal dry forests, and we'll loop back into that in just a minute. But agriculture is about 20 percent, 15 percent of the land area, 100,000 kilometers squared, and with a focus on lowland rice production. Burma was the leading rice exporter up until World War II, so they're a very, very significant country in terms of rice production, and they are competing -- may be competing soon against Thailand and Vietnam, which are the number one and two rice exporters. Agriculture in Burma is struggling. It's grossly under-capitalized. The smallholder farmers which dominate agriculture don't have enough capital in order to produce. It's a very, very touchy situation and they have a very imbalanced situation regarding the nutrition of the people. It's something of a calorie trap. They have enough resources to get enough calories, but not enough resources both in terms of money and educational input in terms of getting the other aspects of nutrition that they need. About 40 percent of the children in Burma are underweight and undersized. But it's also subject to climate. You can't ignore that. Climate plays a huge role. The monsoonal rice production depends entirely on rain coming at the right time. And that rain is highly variable. So here's the forested rim and you don't have to look too closely at this, but to take on messages that Burma has very, very wet regions along the coast and then in the highlands in the north. So the rainfall is very localized, but in the center part where the monsoonal dry forest is, the rainfall is not as great and it's not distributed very equally. In fact they have a region here that's call the 'central dry zone' that they're concerned about desertification. So rainfall varies widely across the country and it governs everything about forests and agriculture.

So this is actually a Burmese piece of data from the Burmese government, channeled through FAO, but this shows the pattern of rainfall over the year for Burma. In the mountainous, in the coastal regions or the upper mountains they can get over 100 inches of rainfall a month during the peak monsoonal wet season. And then in the central part of the country around Mandalay, the rainfall is approximately 30 to 40 inches, not that different than D.C. But the temperatures are substantially higher so they tend to run out of water a lot more quickly.

Climate change is affecting this whole region. That's what my colleagues at Columbia University work on and my colleague at Utah State. And they have a paper coming out looking at the onset of the Asian monsoon in the Bay of Bengal. And what's happening is that the onset is earlier and there's some remote sensing information or data, a paper that shows that the deciduous forests are greening up earlier, so it's the changing rainfall pattern, it's a new environment that's emerging there. There's also some data to suggest that dry breaks are happening longer in June or around the peak of the monsoonal wet period. And that's a serious problem for agriculture because if a smallholder plants his crops it starts to come up and his water stress at the wrong time, the yield goes quite a ways down. And on top of that, in the lowland areas of Burma all the way across into Thailand, the temperatures are warmer. So they're pushing the limits of what some of these crops can handle.

So I want to loop into what type of forests are in Burma and then transition into how they affect agriculture. So it's really, you can very, very loosely classify them in terms of evergreen wet environments, and I use wetter because it's all relative, it's very wet, all of it, compared to here. But in the wetter environments along the coast and the coastal mountains with Thailand, and the highlands, the really high lands, it's evergreen forest. It's because there's enough water that evergreen foliage is favored, but the nutrients are limiting that also favors evergreens. These are important areas for watershed and biodiversity, particularly the upland habitats. The mangroves are very, very important in terms of protecting the coast. Cyclone Nargis when it hit in 2008, the damage would have been less if there were more mangrove forests. Similarly, the tsunami in 2004, a lot of the damage along Sumatra and Thailand were worsened because of destruction of the mangroves for shrimp production. And then the mangroves also have a tremendous amount of biodiversity that are critical for the local smallholder farmers, particularly in Rakhine State, that's one of the wettest regions of Burma and it's a large mangrove area and the local smallholders depend upon that. Then there's the monsoonal dry lowland forest. That’s about 55 percent of the forest area and it's loosely divided into dry evergreen on the one hand, and this is really complex and there's no comprehensive data that I truly would believe in terms of the distribution between dry evergreen and deciduous. There are a number of pure stands and sometimes they're mixed with the deciduous trees and these evergreen trees are found on the less fertile soil. The trees simply can't afford to drop their leaves because some other plant will get it, so they hold onto them. It tends to be quite dark, because it's evergreen, and so the biodiversity in the understory is not quite as great as it is in the deciduous forest. That's that sort of puce yellow color throughout the country. And this is very much a lowland forest, the deciduous forest, because the trees can afford to drop their leaves because they're found on much more fertile soil. But the deciduous trees are often mixed in with the evergreen, but it’s this mixed evergreen and deciduous in here where they have teak, and teak, that's in very high demand and oftentimes illegally logged. And they do have some unusual forest there. The genus Dipterocarpus are also found in the lowlands and they can be extremely open, they look like something out of the arid west. Except for the odd habit of some of these species that have leaves that you could actually use as an umbrella during the wet season. So it's a fascinating forest type with some very, very unusual adaptations.

But probably the most valuable in terms of overall, both economic and ecosystem services, are the mixed deciduous evergreen forests. This is where there is a very large, a very distinct mixture of both evergreen and deciduous, it's on more fertile soils, there's more sunlight, and with the more sunlight there's greater biodiversity. And this is a significant forest for carbon stock. So looking at the U.N. reduction of deforestation and forest degradation, this is a very critical forest type that doesn't quite get the degree of attention that it really deserves. And within this forest type is teak, Tectona grandis. It's a deciduous species, it gets quite large, mixed in with the evergreens and its wood has been in high demand for centuries because it's very resistant to rot and it's quite beautiful. So deforestation is occurring throughout the country. Some of it, particularly in the northeast, in Shan State, is due to illegal logging from China. China's hunger for wood is insatiable and there is legal cutting in Burma but a lot of it is not legal. Another major aspect of deforestation is shifting agriculture, both shifting to cut forests down for agriculture that last one or two years until the soils are depleted, and then they let it revert back to forest, but there's also forest lost due to permanent conversion to agricultural land. This is a protected area in north-central Burma, and it's a monsoonal deciduous and dry forest, and from the period 1973 to 2005, a significant loss of the forest type, but only in the protected area was it really kept, the deciduous mixed forest kept intact. So these are the forest types and they all have value to one degree or another, particularly the lowland dry forest. Timber production is obvious, for example teak, and they still use some elephants for logging, which is good because roads are very destructive.

Carbon sequestration is obviously very important in all of these forests. Burma has the highest percentage of intact forest in Southeast Asia, so these are huge carbon stocks that, if they’re lost, they're going to contribute substantially to atmospheric CO2. And then biodiversity, these forests are tremendously diverse in terms of both the plant and animal species. But they also have agricultural services, agricultural benefits both direct and indirect. So I'm going to loop into that. The forests have the general types of benefits for agriculture. Ecosystem services, that's a very important concept now in ecology. The watershed, that the upland forests are a source of water for irrigation and maintenance of the rivers. Erosion control, if you don't have a forest, the soil doesn't stay there and it causes very serious problems. But what's interesting is that there's a lot of Burmese, both the ethnic minorities and the native Burms that practice shifting agriculture in the uplands. And they focus on the monsoonal dry forests because it's more soil; and it makes sense if you are going to cut down a forest and burn it off and plant crops, you want to do it where it's more fertile and it's there under dry forest, particularly deciduous forest. There's a lot of non-timber forest products, they're quite important in these forests, particularly the mixed evergreen and deciduous. Food, medicine, plants, rattan, and charcoal. And then there's something that's going to be the take home message, and that is that the dry forests have tremendous climate information locked up in its trees. There's a concept of climate history stewardship, particularly – or, not particularly, especially, in the deciduous trees and the conifers that are found in the lowland forest.

So, just a few of these values of the Burmese forest, and forest as agriculture if you will. Non-Timber forests. When I was in Thailand several years ago I was utterly amazed at the diversity of what people can get from the forest. Not just animals to hunt for meat and fruit, but vegetables. This is a market in Thailand where these are all leaves of deciduous trees they're harvesting for salads so they don't need iceberg lettuce they can simply go and pluck a few leaves off a tree. It would be a lot more difficult with evergreen trees. I can't see a boxwood or a holly showing up in anyone's salad here; and then nuts also. Medicinal plants, a colleague of mine in Thailand is a specialist in ginger and there's 30 or 40 species there that are all being used for their medicinal properties in ginger. Sap and resins, all these things they can extract from these trees and there's no loss of value or health to the trees. And finally there's wood in terms of rattan and charcoal and then general fiber that they can strip from the bark. Just from this picture alone from a market in Thailand there's probably five different ginger in addition to the other leaves, or the other tree leaves as salad. Forests can be a form of agriculture too, in terms of the value that they yield. Rubber tree is a significant crop in Southeast Asia, and in the lands that are not reserved that are already somewhat degraded but plantable, this is a potential crop that can yield tremendous income and value to smallholder farmers. And rubber, unlike oil palm, tends to be smallholders and not large corporations. Teak plantations are very important and there's clearly a strong movement to minimize the demand for old growth teak that is a tremendous loss and using teak grown in plantations. Plantations essentially, it's a form of agriculture. And then there's intercropping or, another aspect is agro-forestry, planting for example teak with vegetable crops. This has actually been practiced for a while in the Burmese uplands called ‘taungya.’ It's basically putting in trees for the forest or plantation and allowing, while the trees are young, to grow vegetables so they can get double benefit from the land. And there's many other things that can function that way too. There's peppercorn growing on several forest trees that you get the trees but yet harvest the peppercorn off of it.

But the most important point I want to bring out is this idea of climate history stewardship. The monsoonal forest, the deciduous species have tremendous value in terms of the climate information locked up in their tree rings. This is a graph of Yangon rainfall. I skewed it towards May through April because -- to illustrate the magnitude of the dry season that starts around December and December through about April it's extremely dry and it's extremely hot. They call it winter but it's unlike any winter that we have in North America. When there's adequate rainfall during the monsoon season, then you have healthy agriculture and you have healthy forests, and we can understand from the forest from the deciduous trees, we can pull a core out and we can see how long that wet season was. This is an increment core, with the core extracted and this is what it has in it. Every ring from one dark edge to the next one is the amount of growth that tree put on in one year. We have that here so many of the trees, your oak. So when you have your oak flooring and you have that nice grain, that's the same thing, that annual ring increment. The deciduous trees in the dry forest also, not all, but many of them produce these rings. And the conifers, there's a number of conifers in Southeast Asia, also have -- produce rings. It’s remarkable to go to this climate and drive into a forest where it's completely devoid of leaves. I was flabbergasted when I saw that. I could not believe that this is -- this happens here. But it's very similar to our climate where the trees here just lost their leaves due to cold, they lose their leaves due to drought. So when you think about it, it's an environmental adaptation, and again it comes back to that universe of temperature and water, and plants and animals will adapt to it.

The climate is not permanent anywhere. Climate has been changing on Earth for the past 4 billion years or so okay? It's always changing. And then in the monsoons, the monsoons change too. And we can look at the length of the monsoonal rainy period, and that's captured in the rings of the trees. So if we have average Yangon rainfall, a dry year would reduce it dramatically. You may not see that in the trees but it will definitely show up in agriculture. Trees can withstand a month with no water, rice can withstand maybe two weeks with no water. We pull cores out of different trees and if we see the pattern of wide or narrow rings in different trees within a region, it's called cross-dating, and that tells us there's definitely an environmental signal there. There's a rainfall signal. And what that rainfall signal is, is the exact same as a bar code. You have a wet year, where it's very wide, a narrow ring where it's a dry year, and that's information. And then we can extract a little more that we can come back to but there's these false rings in there, and then there's the width of the dark wood that also has information. But this is exactly like a barcode and through a very, very sophisticated statistical process they can extract the climate signal from these tree rings. The pattern of the width of the tree rings can be plotted over time, this goes back to 1000 A.D. up to 2000 A.D., this is for southern Vietnam March, April, May -- related to March, April, May, drought stress. And so this was calibrated. We have the width of the rings and they plot that and statistically analyze that against this particular indices of drought and they can plot that indices over time, and I want to point out there's these definite cycles that occur over time. And going back in time and seeing when the patterns of wet and dry occur, can tell us a great deal about what happened in the past. This is some work done by my colleagues at Columbia, and Victor Lieberman at Michigan State, who's documented the fall of kingdoms in Southeast Asia and in the mid 1700's to late 1700's the Burmese, Thai, and Vietnamese kingdoms all fell. Certainly there are political activities going on, but if the social structure is fragile, a drought or an extreme wet period can be the knockout punch, and it was indeed what happened here in the 1700's where they had some very dry periods, and they went back and looked at the historical annals of these kingdoms and found reference to reduction in food. So that link between climate and water and forest is very strong. If there's a dry period that's affecting the trees it's going to affect the agriculture. And going back even further in time the Angkor kingdom, the Khmer kingdom in Cambodia, Angkor Wat, was linked to extreme wet and dry periods. Buckley et. al produced a paper that was in the National Academy of Sciences relating written records from that time, as much as there were, plus environmental analysis in the tree rings was able to link extreme wet and dry periods to the fall of Angkor Wat. It simple destabilized the existing water management structures, particularly in the Tonlé Sap, the large lake in central Cambodia, and they fell.

But you can peer into the future too. The value of the tree rings is that you can identify oscillations. The word 'cycles' doesn't quite describe it because it's not always coming back to the same patterns. Actually, more like jazz, if you listen to some of the work of the late great Dave Brubeck you hear these patterns oscillating with each other and coming into alignment at some point. And that's very much the same with the tree rings in the climate cycles. Climate flows in rhythms and oscillations and just like the sine wave of a radio signal, there's an amplitude, which is how severe, how extreme an event is, and then there's the frequency, how often it occurs. And this is a very recent reconstruction from teak, from Rosanne D’Arrigo at Columbia University that shows these oscillations of wet and dry. This is in central Burma just north of the central dry zone. And it has some very, very distinct dry periods from 1600 up until a few years ago. What's driving those cycles? For Southeast Asia largely, and I say 'largely' because there is an element of the unknown that's very difficult to predict, but largely it's due to the el Niño southern oscillation. El Niño is when there's a shift in air pressure and trade winds blow a big chunk of warm water that sloshes across the Pacific and slams up against South America. What it leaves is cooler water in the western Pacific and that cooler water produces less moisture in the air. Because with less moisture in the air the monsoons are weakened and so, there's different ways they can be weakened, but the overall rainfall pattern is less.

So these el Niños are driving largely - to the best of their understanding - these wet and dry cycles. Certainly in Burma, and then there's been a lot more work done in Thailand and Vietnam, where these same el Niño driven cycles are readily apparent in the tree rings. But there's more information in there. The width of the ring can tell you the total rainfall, but that doesn't give you the information necessarily that's driving agriculture. Again this is where agriculture and forestry comes close together. As I mentioned an agricultural crop can go maybe two weeks without water, beyond that the yield goes way down and people suffer. That can be picked up in the tree rings, we think. This is still fairly preliminary work. But, in this particular pine that’s found throughout Southeast Asia, we see these rings that form that are indicative, we think, of a break in the monsoons. This is a recent climate map, because there’s only been climate information for Southeast Asia for the past 30 to 40 years, so it’s really difficult to get a very clear picture of the trends in climate change. But my colleagues were able to map out the breaks in days, or the length of the monsoonal breaks in days, and then the central dry zone of Burma, and the central region of Thailand, and large parts of Vietnam. These breaks can last in excess of 10 days, and that has a potentially significant impact on agriculture. And if you have a break in the middle of that, and we can pick it up, we have the potential for identifying the cycles of monsoonal breaks also, that we can link back in a way that can potentially impact, or understand the risk, that smallholders face in terms of dry periods.

And there’s a third piece of information we can extract from these rings also. There’s the width of the ring, but there’s also the dark latewood. This is the wood that’s formed as the tree is going dormant. You see that in your oak flooring, too, that there’s a distinct width of the ring, but there’s a darker section towards the end of it, and that darker section is as the cells get thicker and the tree is going dormant. And the length, or the width of that dry, that dry width, or that dry section, is proportional to how fast they go dormant. If it’s really dry, it drops off quickly and you can have a very, very narrow latewood ring, as you would have here. If it’s very long or very wide, then you could have a slower period of the dry season starting. And so, agriculturally, smallholders and farmers can get -- potentially get one more crop in. Potentially.

So, take away from this. Climate variability will affect Burma’s development. I just want to acknowledge the Michigan State Scoping Team that went to Burma in October. I was reading their report, and they indicated that, in 2011, it was extremely wet in affecting agriculture; 2012, it was extremely dry in affecting agriculture. So, the climate cycles have a huge effect on how the farmers are able, the smallholders are able to manage their crops. And keeping in mind that smallholder agriculture is a risk-fraught enterprise, they have very little to fall back on. And if they get hit with climatic extremes, there’s very, very little buffering for these, for these smallholder farmers.

Climate cycles will be interacting with climate change. Already, the monsoon is starting earlier, there may be more breaks, and it’s getting warmer. Will climate change completely change these cycles? Probably not, unless the Greenland ice sheet and Antarctic ice sheet slip into the ocean, in which case these climate cycles will be the least of our worries. No. They’ll probably be continuing to exert their influence, but they may change their amplitude, they may change their frequency, or it may shift to a whole other level that we really don’t have the understanding of. There’s a tremendous value in the dry-forest species in Burma. There’s all the array of ecosystem services and economic value. But there is, in the old growth trees, there is a huge ecosystem service of the climate history that has yet to be extracted. And extracting that would allow development efforts to be able to manage the risk of drought more effectively.

And I particularly want to acknowledge Clyde Martin’s [spelled phonetically] talk a couple weeks ago. We were talking about index insurance. This is a -- that can link directly to index insurance. One of the limits of index insurance, insurance that insures a region based upon climate thresholds, is that there’s not much in terms of climate information, particularly in a place like Burma. Reconstructing past climate could give a picture of the risk. And even if you can get a 60 percent probability of a wet or dry period emerging, that’s better than flipping a coin. So, there’s a potential impact in policy development.

So, I do want to thank for this, the -- David Konkel and Intelligence & Research, the economic office in Liberia, hard working colleagues there, it’s really a wonderful place to be, and I want to thank you for the opportunity to be there; The Jefferson Science Program and the National Academy of Sciences, and I want to mention that there will be another seminar coming up in January, same time around 11:00 a.m.; and then Utah State University, for letting me out on parole.

[laughter]

So thank you very much, and I’ll take questions.

[applause]

And I would ask that if anybody has any questions, to use the microphone. It makes it a lot easier. I know the blood sugar levels are falling, you probably need to get to lunch.

Female Speaker:

Thank you for your very informative lecture. The history stewardship element is fascinating. Who’s doing this work, and are you communicating this information to the government, the Burmese government?

Roger Kjelgren:

Who’s doing --

Female Speaker:

Who’s doing, who’s doing the --

Roger Kjelgren:

The dendochronology?

Female Speaker:

Yes.

Roger Kjelgren:

In Southeast Asia, it’s pretty much only the Lomond-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. There’s a lot of -- a number of in-country researchers who are, who are working on it, too. But it’s mostly the Columbia people. There’ve been several papers that have come out recently about these work and reconstructions.

Female Speaker:

Okay, and the policy recommendations that are coming out of it, is there cooperation with the Burmese government, or anyone inside Burma?

Roger Kjelgren:

I think it’s too early, yeah --

Female Speaker:

It’s too early, okay.

Roger Kjelgren:

Yeah, it’s very much. I think that the route to understanding the scientific cooperation probably goes through Thailand --

Female Speaker:

Okay.

Roger Kjelgren:

-- because Thailand’s already done much of this. Thailand and Burma are both Theravada Buddhists. They have a lot in common. They’ve gotten past the point where they take turns in invading each other. So, there’s a lot of potential for them to cooperate sides, see that would probably run through Thailand.

Female Speaker:

Great, thank you.

Male Speaker:

Thank you, again, for the presentation. Those slides were so filled with data that you had to skip some of it. But there was, there was a line in the slide that included the El Niño effect. I don’t know if you could go back to that, it was about six from the end, perhaps. That, yeah, that was it. Bottom right, I couldn’t see what the line that looks like it might be marked “SP”, perhaps --

Roger Kjelgren:

[speaking simultaneously] Oh, the line, okay.

Male Speaker:

The slowly rising line from 1600 to 1800, yes.

Roger Kjelgren:

[speaking simultaneously] Yeah. Sorry, it’s a --

Male Speaker:

What’s the information there?

Roger Kjelgren:

-- it’s a chronic condition of any kind of university professors you overload. And it’s good to have outside perspective to say “too much”. Okay? The “SP” is the Strange Parallels Drought. This is a drought in the 1700s, from mid- to late-1700s that affected all of Asia. And it went all the way from northern China down into Southeast Asia. These are part of the unknown events that kind of merged. The cycles with El Niño are fairly predictable. But, on occasion, there’re these other longer-term cycles that mesh with it --

Male Speaker:

[affirmative]

Roger Kjelgren:

-- and can cause extreme drought. In the late, in the 1800s, an El Niño driven drought that was interacting with something else killed about 30 million people across China, India, and South America. So, it’s just to point out that what’s going on here in this small region can sometimes connect with much, much larger climate cycles.

Male Speaker:

Okay, so that’s part of a larger oscillation that’s in there --

Roger Kjelgren:

[speaking simultaneously] Yes, a larger oscillation.

Male Speaker:

-- and we’re still more or less, in 2012, in the same part of that oscillation as they were at the end of the eighteenth century.

Roger Kjelgren:

But we don’t know in the future --

Male Speaker:

[speaking simultaneously] Whatever that may --

Roger Kjelgren:

-- some of these major unknown events may emerge. So, we don’t know. And if I give this again, I will cut back on some of this stuff.

[laughter]

Any other questions?

Male Speaker:

Thank you. I’m curious what some of the agricultural crops are that are placing the most --

Roger Kjelgren:

[speaking simultaneously] In Burma?

Male Speaker:

In Burma, that are placing the most pressure on driving deforestation.

Roger Kjelgren:

Well, as I understand, this is based on what’s available in the literature, and then what this Michigan State AID Scoping Mission has found, is that it’s largely, the lowlands are largely rice production, and there actually is a problem with lack of diversity in terms of cropping production. If they had more resource input, they could probably diversify into more different crops that would have a lot of benefit at multiple levels. But, as I understand, it’s largely rice-driven. And the uplands, there’s maybe some upland rice, and then maybe vegetables, but I don’t really know.

Male Speaker:

Thanks.

Roger Kjelgren:

Okay, thank you. Any other questions? If not, I will turn it back over to Bill and he will wind things up. And, again, I want to thank the Jefferson Science Program, the National Academy of Sciences. And stay tuned for another Jefferson Science Seminar in January.

[applause]