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Art of Science image titled Flux

Scientist Collaborators Yufeng He

Megan Matthews Laboratory Group

Funded by Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE)

It is often tempting to dwell on what we have failed to achieve: cures for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, eliminating world hunger, or preventing natural disasters. While it is important to remember what needs to be done, it is equally crucial to recognize what we have accomplished so far. In just the past three decades, science has progressed in leaps and bounds with the development of the internet, solar energy devices, antiretroviral treatment for AIDS, and increased agricultural production, among many other advances.

The US is the largest soybean grower in the world, shown in the agricultural productivity maps in this piece. The yield has been changing in both space and time for many decades due to a combination of factors, including technology improvement, climate change, and land use

management. Set against a background of US county shapes, the image reminds us that even if we don’t know all the answers, we’re much closer than we were 30 years ago.

DATA NOTES:USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Information

Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring Program. Illinois Climate Network. Note: the temperature shown are the yearly growing-seaon averages, i.e., annual mean throughout April-September