A Sustainable Vision

February 6, 2012

With new efforts such as UW Farm, do-it-yourself bike repair stations, and the first-annual sustainability summit sprouting up around campus, the UW is going green. The Campus Sustainability Fund (CSF) is part of the process. But what goes on behind the scenes is a design meant to improve visibility on campus.

The CSF gave Husky Sustainable Storms (HSS) $9,220 to design a stormwater infrastructure project, called a bioswale, by the end of winter quarter, and they expect results.

Preserved habitat near national parks helps species conservation

January 30, 2012

National parks often are established to help preserve species native to a particular region, but it appears that some species preservation is more successful if a significant portion of land adjacent to a park also is left as natural habitat.

The Cerrado region in Brazil has been identified as the most biologically diverse savanna on Earth, and Emas National Park is an important protected area for populations of wide-ranging large mammals such as giant anteaters, jaguars and puma.

Genetically Engineered Stomach Microbe Converts Seaweed into Ethanol

January 19, 2012

Seaweed may well be an ideal plant to turn into biofuel. It grows in much of the two thirds of the planet that is underwater, so it wouldn't crowd out food crops the way corn for ethanol does. Because it draws its own nutrients and water from the sea, it requires no fertilizer or irrigation. Most importantly for would-be biofuel-makers, it contains no lignin—a strong strand of complex sugars that stiffens plant stalks and poses a big obstacle to turning land-based plants such as switchgrass into biofuel.

UW students to design ultra-efficient hybrid powered by biodiesel

January 24, 2012

The engineering students of today will soon be designing the cars of tomorrow. In an effort to draw the best and brightest minds to the automotive field, the U.S. DOE has a long history of sponsoring advanced vehicle design competitions to foster innovation and skill development in the fields of vehicle design and engineering. In fact, the department has sponsored this type of competition for 23 years, during which time approximately 16,500 students have participated, with the vast majority of them finding work in the automotive sector.

UW Botanic Gardens sow seeds for the future

January 21, 2012

MY HEAD spins whenever I think about all the changes at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture and the Washington Park Arboretum in the past few years.

After managing the Miller Library for nearly two decades, I would have thought I could answer the many questions from people concerned about the future of their beloved arboretum and hort center with its wetlands, herbarium, library, gardens and meeting rooms.

Commentary in Nature: Can economy bear what oil prices have in store?

January 26, 2012

Stop wrangling over global warming and instead reduce fossil-fuel use for the sake of the global economy.

That’s the message from two scientists, one from the University of Washington and one from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, who say in the current issue of the journal Nature (Jan. 26) that the economic pain of a flattening oil supply will trump the environment as a reason to curb the use of fossil fuels.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Environmental protection need not cost jobs

January 26, 2012

In a Town Hall meeting at the UW Fisheries building Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 25, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson told a packed auditorium that President Barack Obama’s push for green jobs and protecting the environment can also help rebuild the economy.

“There are plenty of win-win-win solutions — good ones for our planet, our country, our economy,” said Jackson, who holds an undergraduate degree from Tulane and a master’s in chemical engineering from Princeton.

What's Funny About Taxes? Ask the World's First "Stand-Up Economist"

January 25, 2012

Dr. Yoram Bauman is an environmental economist at the University of Washington who has an unusual second career: stand-up comedian. Calling himself “the world’s first stand-up economist,” Bauman spends his spare time performing in comedy clubs, such as Carolines on Broadway, as well as more scholarly venues, such as the American Economic Association.

EPA Chief Visits UW, Discusses Green Jobs

January 26, 2012

Yesterday the chief of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa Jackson, held a town hall meeting at the UW to discuss growth of green, sustainable jobs and the involvement of youth in the environmental movement.

Jackson gave a brief opening speech to a packed auditorium in the Fisheries Sciences building before answering students’ questions, some of which were posed the day before on social media websites.

The questions varied in content from the EPA’s involvement with native tribes to the connections between environmental issues and mental health concerns.

Injecting sulfate particles into stratosphere won’t fully offset climate change

January 25, 2012

As the reality and the impact of climate warming have become clearer in the last decade, researchers have looked for possible engineering solutions – such as removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or directing the sun’s heat away from Earth – to help offset rising temperatures.

New University of Washington research demonstrates that one suggested method, injecting sulfate particles into the stratosphere, would likely achieve only part of the desired effect, and could carry serious, if unintended, consequences.