Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment View this newsletter in your browser.
April 2013
Research Highlights Research Highlights
People Spotlights People Spotlights
Program Updates Program Updates
In the News In the News


Calendar of Upcoming Events
 
April
19
Conference
"Connecting the Dots: The Energy, Water, Food and Climate Nexus"

Leading energy researchers at Stanford will discuss the interconnections and interactions among humanity's needs for and use of energy, water, food and the environment.
» Read more ...
April
21
Earth Week Films
Mini film festival presented in conjunction with the exhibition Revisiting the South:

Richard Misrach's Cancer Alley. Students from Stanford's Environmental Humanities Project will introduce the films and lead discussions.
» Read more ...
April
22
Campus Event
Sustainability Festival

In celebration of Earth Day, Stanford will host a campus community gathering to experience and enjoy Stanford's thriving culture of sustainability.
» Read more ...
April
22
Energy Seminar
"China Miniseries (2 of 5): Clean Capital Investing in Energy Innovation on Both Sides of the Pacific"

Sonny Wu, Managing Partner, GSR Ventures; Ian Zhu, General Partner, Tsing Capital
» Read more ...
April
23
Lecture and Q&A
"Peril and Opportunity: Solving the Climate Crisis and Reinvigorating Democracy"

Former Vice President Al Gore will speak about climate change in a lecture he gives in memory of well-known climate scientist Stephen H. Schneider of Stanford Woods
» Read more ...
April
24
Lecture Q&A
Environmental Earth System Science Seminar

Eric Lambin, George and Setsuko Ishiyama Provostial Professor and Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute
» Read more ...
April
24
Stanford Energy Club Event
"Future Energy Pitch"

A pitch event that connects startups with venture capital and corporate investors in the energy and clean-tech industries
» Read more ...
April
25
Boething Lecture
"Seeing Like a Forest, Looking Like a City - Stories About Encouraging Ecosystem Stewards in a World of Diminished Hopes"

William Burch, Frederick C. Hixon Professor Emeritus of Natural Resource Management and Senior Research Scientist, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
» Read more ...
April
29
Energy Seminar
"Energy, Production and the Future of Biodiversity"

Tony Barnosky, Visiting Professor, Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford
» Read more ...
May
6
Energy Seminar
"China Miniseries (3 of 5): Ramping Renewables - China's Boom-Bust Bid to Make Solar Power Big"

Terry Wang, CFO of Trina Solar; Peter Xie, CEO, GCL Solar Energy
» Read more ...
May
10-11
Stanford Law School Symposium
"Emerging Perspectives on the Law, Science and Policy of Dynamic Marine Conservation"

Keynote speakers: Jane Lubchenco, Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor, Stanford Haas Center for Public Service and Former Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and Kristina M. Gjerde, Senior High Seas Policy Advisor, IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme

Learn about cutting-edge topics in dynamic ocean conservation law, science and policy at this symposium co-hosted by the Center for Ocean Solutions
» Read more ...
May
13
Energy Seminar
"China Miniseries (4 of 5): Market Maker - What China's Clean-Energy Push Means for America"

Jeffrey Ball, Scholar in Residence at Stanford's Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance
» Read more ...
May
22
Environmental Forum
"Ecology of Defaunation, Biodiversity Change and Risks of Human Disease"

Rodolfo Dirzo, Bing Professor in Environmental Science and Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute
» Read more ...

Planning for the Next Superstorm

The Stanford Woods Institute recently hosted its first policy briefing in Washington, D.C. Held to release the results of a new poll on adapting to climate change, the briefing assembled a panel of experts to discuss the findings and field questions from a capacity audience representing federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, Congress and the media. Judging by responses to both the survey results and the briefing, preparing for the next climate-fueled superstorm is a high priority for policymakers and the people they represent (related information and coverage). Stories about the survey ran in scores of news outlets around the country and abroad, and requests for related briefings are coming in from lawmakers, state agencies and others seeking to minimize risk from catastrophic climate change-fueled weather. Read on for results from the survey and more examples of the work Stanford's environmental researchers are doing to inform decisions for a sustainable future.

 

Sincerely,

Debbie Drake Dunne
Executive Director

Jeffrey R. Koseff
Perry L. McCarty Director

Barton H. Thompson, Jr.
Perry L. McCarty Director



 
Research Highlights

Americans Back Preparation for Extreme Weather and Sea Level Rise

A survey commissioned by the Stanford Woods Institute and the Center for Ocean Solutions finds that an overwhelming majority of Americans want to prepare in order to minimize the damage likely to be caused by global warming-induced sea level rise and storms. A majority also want people whose properties and businesses are located in hazard areas - not the government - to foot the bill for this preparation, according to the survey's director, Senior Fellow Jon Krosnick (Communication and Political Science). Specifically, 82 percent of the Americans surveyed said that people and organizations should prepare for the aftereffects likely to be caused by sea level rise and storms, rather than simply deal with the damage after it happens.

Read more ...

 

New Perspective on Biodiversity and Disease Risk

More than three-quarters of new, emerging or re-emerging human diseases are caused by pathogens from animals, according to the World Health Organization. But a widely accepted theory of risk reduction for these pathogens - one of the most important ideas in disease ecology - is likely wrong, according to a new study co- authored by Senior Fellow James Holland Jones (Anthropology) and former Stanford Woods-affiliated ecologist Dan Salkeld. Their analysis pokes holes in the dilution effect, which theorizes that biodiversity abundance is associated with a reduced disease risk for humans.

Read more ...

 

The Secret to Surviving Ocean Acidification

To the more than 1 billion people who depend on seafood for their sustenance and livelihoods, increasingly acidic oceans present a worrisome question. What sea creatures will survive in waters that have had their chemistry altered by global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels? A study of purple sea urchins co-authored by Senior Fellow Stephen Palumbi (Biology), director of Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station, reveals previously unknown adaptive variations that could help some marine species survive in less hospitable environments. These capabilities could provide important clues about how to maintain robust marine populations amid the effects of acidification, climate change, overfishing and other human impacts.

Read more ...

 

Satellites Provide Insight Into Crop Yields

Satellite data can play a critical role in understanding yield gaps and meeting future crop demand, according to a study by Center Fellow David Lobell (Earth Sciences), associate director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment. To date, satellite data have played a relatively small role in this field. However, the few examples that exist indicate that remote sensing can help overcome some of the inherent scaling issues associated with field-based approaches, Lobell finds. Better sensing and yield estimate calculations, as well as new geospatial data on soils, management and weather, will also likely provide valuable insights, according to Lobell.

Read more ...

For more research, see the Stanford Woods Institute quarterly Research Digest.
 
People Spotlights

A Squid's Eye View

It is the size of a man, has a razor-sharp beak and arms with hooked suckers, and is prone to peculiar behaviors such as mass beachings. No wonder the giant Humboldt squid is the source of fascination for some people. Few, however, can match William Gilly, a Stanford Woods-affiliated professor of biology, when it comes to pursuing the misunderstood creature. Gilly's research team at Hopkins Marine Station has strapped video cameras and electronic sensors to the animals, exhaustively analyzed their habitats, tracked them with sonar and raised their eggs. The result is an unprecedented, detailed view of life as a squid.

Read more ...

 

Dodging the Climate Comet

Why doesn't climate change elicit the kinds of public demand for preventive solutions that a recent asteroid touchdown in Russia and another asteroid near- miss have? "It's easy for us to envision a comet-caused catastrophe because the fossil record tells us it has happened in the past, with disastrous results," Senior Fellow Liz Hadly (Biology) wrote on her blog recently. "But what about the slow-motion catastrophe that is global climate change?" Warming temperatures, more acidic oceans and disappearing forests need urgent attention, Hadly argues, and policymakers need to start picking up the pace. Still, Hadly is hopeful, pointing out that Americans have solved seemingly insurmountable problems before. She calls for "a blueprint to forestall and adapt to climatic change" that "starts with a more careful, honest and widespread view of our changing planet." (Hadly will become senior associate vice provost for undergraduate education at Stanford in September. In this post, she will be responsible for assisting and advising the vice provost for undergraduate education. See related story.)

Read more ...

 

Understanding Extreme Weather

Intense storms, blistering heat waves and extended droughts - what role does climate change have in these extreme weather events? Center Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth Science) recently participated in a series of National Climate Data Center expert workshops to assess science's understanding of physical processes that shape different kinds of weather extremes and the reliability of historic records of those events. The workshop led to a paper Diffenbaugh co-authored that finds scientists have a high level of knowledge about how heat waves, cold waves and heavy precipitation would respond to global warming, as well as substantial knowledge about the past history of those events.

Read more ...

 
Program Updates

New Online Homes for Emerging Programs

Three Stanford Woods Institute-supported programs launched newly designed websites recently. Water in the West (WitW), the Osa & Golfito Initiative (INOGO is the Spanish acronym) and Water, Health and Development (WHD) now have informative sites that mirror the Woods website’s clean design, large display images, intuitive navigation and content organized by research areas. The INOGO site - inogo.stanford.edu - features a searchable library that will help others working in Costa Rica’s ecologically valuable Osa and Golfito region find valuable information. The WHD site - water.stanford.edu - showcases the program’s four research areas: expanding access, sustainable service models, human health and water-sanitation-development linkages. The WitW site - waterinthewest.stanford.edu - better integrates social media outlets such as Twitter, and includes a biweekly blog about the program’s work, important contemporary water issues and recently published research.

Read more ...

 

Valuing Groundwater

What do Australia and the American West have in common? These arid regions across the world from each other share a dependence on dwindling groundwater sources. That common thread brought more than 40 American and Australian government, business, academia and nonprofit organization representatives to Stanford recently. During a two-day workshop co-hosted by the Stanford Woods Institute, the Water in the West program and other groups, they discussed the connections between groundwater and ecosystems such as rivers and wetlands, and how ecosystem valuation - quantifying a natural system’s value - could help make groundwater management more sustainable. The meeting’s findings may inform the development of a new groundwater module for the Natural Capital Project Integrated Valuation of Environmental Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) software.

Read more ...

 

Sanitation Solutions

An innovative project that received seed funding from the Stanford Woods Institute's Mel Lane Student Grants Program was featured at the Clinton Global Initiative University April 6 in St. Louis. As part of a panel event, "Solving the Global Sanitation Crisis," Stanford Ph.D. student Sebastien Tilmans discussed re.source, an initiative to deploy a sanitation service using portable, affordable dry household toilets in urban Haiti. Tilmans and fellow Ph.D. student Kory Russel are co-founders of re.source, which came into being under the guidance of Senior Fellow Jenna Davis (Civil and Environmental Engineering). Tilmans and Russel recently completed a pilot phase in which they tested several toilet models with users before deploying both toilets and waste-removal service to more than 130 households. Mobile tracking technology monitors waste collectors' performance, maximizes efficiency and minimizes service costs. Tilmans and Russel hope to receive funding to scale up re.source.

Photo credit: Felipe Jacome

Read more ...

 

Climate Changers: Students Help Governor Communicate Issues

As part of California Gov. Jerry Brown's initiative to improve communication of climate change-related issues, the Governor's Office of Planning and Research recently launched a YouTube channel called "Climate Changers." The channel includes three video interviews Stanford students conducted with fellows in the Stanford Woods Institute-based Leopold Leadership Program, which provides communications training to scientists around the U.S. One of the interviewees is Stanford Woods- affiliated Professor of Environmental Earth System Science Kevin Arrigo, who discusses the effects of climate change on polar ice and oceans, including the world's largest phytoplankton bloom. More video interviews with Leopold Leadership Program fellows will be added to the YouTube channel.

Read more ...

 
In the News
Selected media coverage of the Stanford Woods Institute and its
fellows, affiliated scholars and supported research

Q&A: Gretchen Daily, Ecologist, on Quantifying Nature's Value

SmartPlanet, April 1
Gretchen Daily, a senior fellow at Stanford Woods Institute, explains how she measures the value of nature in this conversation with SmartPlanet.

 

Poll: Americans Want U.S. to Prepare for Climate Change

USA Today, March 28
Should the U.S. get ready for extreme weather and, if so, who should pay?

 

Americans Believe in Climate Change Risks but Won't Pay to Fix Them - Survey

The Guardian, March 28
Research by Jon Krosnick, senior fellow with Stanford Woods, examines attitudes toward climate adaptation

 

A Leading Marine Biologist Works to Create a 'Wired Ocean'

Yale Environment 360, March 20
Interview with Senior Fellow Barbara Block about her use of geotagging technology to study the behavior of ocean predators

 

Can Wind, Water and Sunlight Power New York by 2050?

The New York Times, March 12
Cites work by Stanford Woods Senior Fellow Mark Jacobson and others showing how New York State could, in theory, eliminate its use of fossil fuels and nuclear power by 2050

 
 
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The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment online newsletter is published each month except for July/August and December/January, when issues are combined.

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