Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment View this newsletter in your browser. May 2015
Research Highlights Research Highlights
Program Updates Program Updates
People Spotlights People
In the News In the News

Calendar of Upcoming Events
"Reflections on Sustainable Futures: The Trade-Off Challenge"
Michael Kavanaugh, Principal at Geosyntec Consultants, Inc., discusses environmental decision-making trade-offs and sustainable practices
» Read more ...
Brown Bag Session
"Don't Fence Me In - Legal Barriers to Agricultural Water Transactions featuring Anne Castle"
Anne Castle, Landreth Visiting Fellow and former Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, U.S. Department of the Interior
» Read more ...
"Master of Liberal Arts 2015 Expedition to Costa Rica"
Woods Senior Fellow William Durham (Anthropology) leads tour of Costa Rica
» Read more ...


Golden Arches, Golden Opportunities

Do you want deforestation with your Big Mac? McDonald's bets the answer is no. The world's largest fast food chain recently announced a commitment to end deforestation caused by its supply chain. Destruction of forests and other ecosystems is one of the most powerful forces driving down populations of large plant-eating animals such as elephants, gorillas and tapirs. This could result in more frequent and intense wildfires and more disease-carrying rodents, among other downsides, according to a study co-authored by Woods Senior Fellow Rodolfo Dirzo (Biology) that offers potential solutions. Read on for more about this analysis and other unique approaches to pressing environmental challenges around the world.


Jeffrey R. Koseff
Perry L. McCarty Director


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


Research Highlights

A World Without Big Plant-Eating Animals

Senior Fellow Rodolfo Dirzo (Biology) and a team of ecologists predict "enormous ecological, social and economic costs" from loss of large herbivores, and offer solutions.

Photo credit: Kristopher Everatt / Courtesy of Oregon State University

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Little Prawn, Big Data

Researchers supported by Woods' Environmental Venture Projects program were honored for their use of mobile data to track the spread of a parasitic disease. The project enlists freshwater prawns to control the spread of schistosomiasis in West Africa.

Photo credit: GIulio De Leo

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Record-Low Snowpack: Bad News for California, Say Stanford Experts

California's snowpack is at the lowest level ever recorded, and long-term drought effects could be devastating. Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth System Science) and Water in the West Executive Director Leon Szeptycki discuss the causes and implications.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

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For more research, see the Stanford Woods Institute quarterly Research Digest.
Program Updates

Preventing and Resolving Groundwater Conflicts

The ongoing drought in California reinforces the importance of groundwater. A report from a recent Water in the West workshop outlines how new legislation may change the landscape of groundwater conflicts and resolution.

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Finding Solutions While Inspiring Students

The Mentoring Undergraduates in Interdisciplinary Research (MUIR) program provides useful guidance for undergraduate students and research assistance for faculty. The program recently awarded grants to projects ranging from an exploration of media impact on perceptions of climate change to an analysis of sustainability's role in business school educations.

Photo credit: Patrick Archie

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Pricing Water for Conservation

In a Q&A with Water in the West, Woods-affiliated economics professor Frank Wolak talks about his model for developing water rate structures that meet conservation and revenue objectives in the wake of recent legal developments.

Photo credit: Sadi Utra

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People Spotlights

Negotiating a Climate Pact: It All Starts With Good Data

Senior Fellow Robert Jackson (Earth System Science) discusses the Global Carbon Project's role in providing robust data for negotiators to consider during climate talks.

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Honor for Mooney

What do jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, the director of the National Science Foundation and Woods Senior Fellow, emeritus, Harold Mooney have in common? They all recently received honorary degrees at Duke University. Duke awarded Mooney, the Paul S. Achilles Professor in Environmental Biology, a doctorate in science for his work to build climate change consensus, among other achievements.

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Human Conflict Heats Up With Global Warming

Marshall Burke discusses his human-focused approach to studying climate change. Burke is an assistant professor in Earth System Science and a center fellow at Center on Food Security and the Environment.

Photo credit: Stacey Geiken

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

Fracking Chemicals Found in Pennsylvania Drinking Water

Marketplace, May 5
Senior Fellow Robert Jackson (Earth System Science) comments on connection between integrity of hydraulic fracturing well construction and chemical contamination.
By Kai Ryssdal

Drying Up: The Race to Save California From Drought

Newsweek, April 23
Quotes Newsha Ajami, director of urban water policy at Water in the West, on the cost of desalination and cites Stanford research on technological innovation in the water sector.

Star Wars' Moisture Farming Tech Won't Save California

Discovery News, April 16
Woods Co-Director and Senior Fellow Buzz Thompson (Law) states that while technology is part of the solution, moisture farming is not a viable solution on the large scale at this time.

Redistribute California's Water? Not Without a Fight

NPR, April 15
Leon Szeptycki, Woods professor of the practice and executive director of the Water in the West program, discusses how California's senior water rights system is not effective when responding to drought.

Hot Hands: Fingerprints of Climate change All Over California Drought

The Washington Post, April 2
Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth System Science) and Stanford graduate student Daniel Swain (Earth System Science), a 2013 Rising Environmental Leaders Program fellow, discuss how rising temperatures increase drought frequency and intensity.

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