Discussion over fossil fuel divestment heats up

July 2, 2013

As the effort to get universities to stop investing in the top 200 oil, gas, and coal companies continues, a group of undergraduate and graduate students are spearheading the movement at the UW.

Divest UW joined a movement that has spread to more than 300 colleges and universities in the United States, urging educational institutions to freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies and to divest from current holdings.

Currently, the UW has an endowment of about $2.2 billion, of which about 2 percent,  goes into the fossil fuel industry.

Students to Regents: UW should rid itself of oil, coal stocks

A crowd of University of Washington students, many wearing trademark purple-and-gold shirts, on Thursday urged UW regents to divest the university’s investment portfolio of all stocks in Big Oil, Big Coal, and all companies comprising the backbone of the fossil-fuel economy.

Unusual for Seattle, it was a protest lacking in jargon and detailed in argument.

“We believe investment in oil companies is unnecessary, and will expose our endowment to unnecessary risk,” Kyle Murphy, a UW senior and political science major, told the regents.

Silicon-based nanoparticles could make LEDs cheaper, greener to produce

June 12, 2013

Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are the most efficient and environmentally friendly light bulbs on the market. But they come at a higher up-front price than other bulbs, especially the ones with warmer and more appealing hues.

Researchers at the University of Washington have created a material they say would make LED bulbs cheaper and greener to manufacture, driving down the price. Their silicon-based nanoparticles soften the blue light emitted by LEDs, creating white light that more closely resembles sunlight.

Coal trains fire up UW chemist

May 7, 2013

Dan Jaffe says he didn’t set out intending to go all rogue with his science.

“What happened is I was getting discouraged,” he says. “I was starting to wonder whether anyone would even be allowed to ask these basic questions. So I went outside the system.”

Jaffe is no anarchist, but an atmospheric chemist at the University of Washington.

For 20-plus years he’s followed the conventional path for doing science in this country, which is to apply for grants from the government or corporate-backed groups.

Seattle plan would make city carbon neutral by 2050

The king tides that swamped Alki last winter might be a harbinger of the effects of climate change on Seattle. Diminished snowpack in the Cascades could mean less drinking water and less cheap hydroelectricity. A 3-meter rise in sea level could swamp the Duwamish Waterway, the working port, Sodo and its industrial lands.

While steps Seattle takes to reduce emissions would have little effect on the global climate and those potential threats, they could demonstrate what one city can do to dramatically reduce its own sources of greenhouse gases, said City Councilmember Mike O’Brien.