UW prof discovers the cutting edge in green living

March 19, 2014

In a world of dwindling natural resources and mounting environmental crisis, who is devising ways of living that will work for the long haul? And how can we, as individuals, make a difference?

To answer these questions, Professor Karen Litfin embarked upon a journey to many of the world’s ecovillages – intentional communities at the cutting-edge of sustainable living. From Los Angeles to South India and Denmark to Senegal, she discovered an under-the-radar global movement making positive and radical changes from the ground up.

The misplaced emphasis on extreme weather in environmental threat communication

March 14, 2014

Environmental advocates have a compelling story to tell, but it has been hard to get people to listen. The advocates argue that the ever increasing burden of human activities— reflected in rising world population, coupled with rising per capita GDP— is taking an increasingly heavy toll on the global environment.

Climate change activist speaks to UW students

March 11, 2014

Her journey began along the cold waters of the Koksoak River in Quebec, where as an Inuk child, Sheila Watt-Cloutier fished and picked berries in the ice and snow in the frigid Canadian north. Now Watt-Cloutier, a Nobel Prize nominee, travels the globe in the name of motherhood, indigenous people, and the Arctic environment, advocating for pollution reduction and fighting against global warming.

UW Launches Minor In Arctic Studies

March 10, 2014

Curiosity about what’s happening in some of the coldest places on Earth has prompted the University of Washington to launch its first Arctic Studies minor.

The program is the first of its kind offered by a university in the lower 48.

Nadine Fabbi, associate director of the Canadian Studies Center at the Jackson School of International Studies, says the impact of climate change on the region is just one of the reasons why the university has started this program.

Polar science this weekend at Pacific Science Center

March 4, 2014

As spring begins to show hints of emerging, plunge back into the cold with Polar Science Weekend at Pacific Science Center.

The 9th annual celebration of snow and ice, organized by museum and the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory, features UW glaciologists, biologists and climate experts. But it also brings in other community members, including local artists, photographers and zookeepers who focus on polar environments.

Confronting the exploitation of extreme weather events in global warming reporting

February 28, 2014

Extreme weather events remind us of our vulnerability to the truly awesome forces of nature. They reveal the weaknesses in our societal infrastructure.  Sometimes they provide valuable insights into the workings of the climate system. But the debate about whether this winter’s cold weather over the central and eastern U.S. is due to global warming has become a stumbling block in our public discourse on human induced climate change.

Pine forest particles appear out of thin air, influence climate

February 26, 2014

Pine forests are especially magical places for atmospheric chemists. Coniferous trees give off pine-scented vapors that form particles, very quickly and seemingly out of nowhere.

New research by German, Finnish and U.S. scientists elucidates the process by which gas wafting from coniferous trees creates particles that can reflect sunlight or promote cloud formation, both important climate feedbacks. The study is published Feb. 27 in Nature.

Climate change: mitigation, adaptation

February 13, 2014

Climate change is here, it is happening, and it is the future. Lots can still be done to mitigate the changes, but policy is moving to adapt to impacts

Discussions around climate change are on a pragmatic new course. Enough of the talk-show bilge about “is it real?”

The shift I am hearing is not only about mitigating climate change, but also promoting smart adaptation to the impacts already here — and here to stay.

Scientific energy and insight are pointing the discussion toward what can be done to lessen the economic, political and social impacts ahead.

Embarking on geoengineering, then stopping, would speed up global warming

February 18, 2014

Spraying reflective particles into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight and then stopping it could exacerbate the problem of climate change, according to new research by atmospheric scientists at the University of Washington.

Carrying out geoengineering for several decades and then stopping would cause warming at a rate that will greatly exceed that expected due to global warming, according to a study published Feb. 18 in Environmental Research Letters.