Subscribe to the Research Digest or Read Online

 
 
Fall
2013
In This Issue

 > Climate

 > Ecosystem Services

 > Food Security

 > Freshwater

 > Oceans

 > Public Health

 > Public Opinion Research

 > Sustainable Development

 

Electricity From an Unlikely Source

What if the U.S. and other countries could turn waste into a source of abundant, affordable clean energy? It's not a pipe dream for Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Craig Criddle (Civil and Environmental Engineering). Criddle and other researchers have developed a "battery" that produces electricity by digesting the plant and animal waste dissolved in sewage. In a recent paper, the scientists discuss how they use naturally occurring "wired microbes" as mini power plants. One day they hope their discovery will be used in places such as sewage treatment plants, or to break down organic pollutants in the "dead zones" of lakes and coastal waters where fertilizer runoff and other organic waste can deplete oxygen levels and suffocate marine life. Read more...

"Microbial Battery for Efficient Energy Recovery," PNAS, Sept. 16, 2013

Read on for more discoveries and insights on environmental challenges and solutions published by Stanford Woods Institute fellow and affiliated researchers. We invite you to subscribe to our quarterly Research Digest.

 

 
 
 
Climate

Climate Change Occurring Faster Than Ever

The planet is undergoing one of the largest changes in climate since the dinosaurs went extinct. But what might be even more troubling for humans, plants and animals is the speed of the change. In a study, Senior Fellows Chris Field (Biology) and Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth Sciences) warn that the likely rate of change over the next century will be at least 10 times quicker than any climate shift in the past 65 million years. Without intervention, this extreme pace could lead to a 5- to 6-degree Celsius spike in annual temperatures by the end of the century. If the trend continues at its current rapid pace, it will place significant stress on terrestrial ecosystems around the world, and many species will need to make behavioral, evolutionary or geographic adaptations to survive.

Read more...

"Changes in Ecologically Critical Terrestrial Climate Conditions," Science, Aug. 1, 2013

A New Way to Analyze Climate Change Impacts

Most scientists agree that human-caused climate change is real. There is, however, a lack of consensus on the formal scientific method of detection and attribution of climate change impacts. A paper co-authored by Senior Fellow David Lobell (Earth Sciences, FSI) points out that these processes are hampered by limited long-term observations, limited knowledge of changing environmental systems and widely different concepts applied in scientific literature. Lobell and his co-authors describe the current conceptual framework and outline a number of challenges. They propose workable interdisciplinary definitions, concepts and standards as a baseline for development of a consistent framework that facilitates more effective and efficient detection and attribution of climate change impacts.

Read more...

"The Challenge to Detect and Attribute Effects of Climate Change on Human and Natural Systems," Climatic Change, August 2013

Global Warming to Increase Severe Thunderstorm Risk

In 2012, 11 weather disasters in the United States crossed the billion-dollar threshold in economic losses. Seven of those events were related to severe thunderstorms. New climate analyses led by Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth Sciences) indicate that global warming is likely to cause a robust increase in the conditions that produce these types of storms across much of the country over the next century.

Read more...

"Robust Increases in Severe Thunderstorm Environments in Response to Greenhouse Forcing," PNAS, Sept. 23, 2013

 

Other Climate Change Research

"Getting Ahead of the Curve: Supporting Adaptation to Long-Term Climate Change and Short-Term Climate Variability Alike," Carbon and Climate Law Review, Oct. 8, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow David Lobell (Earth Sciences, FSI)

"Near-Term Acceleration of Hydroclimatic Change in the Western U.S.," Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, Oct. 1 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth Sciences)

"Likelihood of July 2012 U.S. Temperatures in Preindustrial and Current Forcing Regimes" in a special report, "Explaining Extreme Events of 2012 From a Climate Perspective," Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, September 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth Sciences)

"Monitoring and Understanding Changes in Heat Waves, Cold Waves, Floods and Droughts in the United States: State of Knowledge," Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Aug. 2, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth Sciences)

"U.S. Maize Adaptability," Climate Change, July 26, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow David Lobell (Earth Sciences, FSI)

"Precipitation Extremes Over the Continental United States in a Transient, High-Resolution, Ensemble Experiment of 21st Century Climate," Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, July 11, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth Sciences)

"Seasonal Energy Storage Using Bioenergy Production From Abandoned Croplands," Environmental Research Letters, July 10, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellows Chris Field (Biology) and David Lobell (Earth Sciences, FSI)

"Transient 21st Century Changes in Daily-Scale Temperature Extremes in the United States," Climate Dynamics, July 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth Sciences)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute climate research
 
Ecosystem Services

Where the Wild Things Are, and People Aren't

Isolated wildernesses such as Palmyra Atoll, a flyspeck on the map about 1,000 miles southwest of Hawaii, provide precious natural laboratories and hold a powerful allure in the popular consciousness. However, few scientists or policymakers have considered how to tailor conservation approaches to the unique challenges of these largely inaccessible places. A study co-authored by four Stanford Woods Institute researchers evaluates different conservation methods as they apply to remote areas. Its findings have the potential to reshape the way we think about and manage nature at the edges of civilization. The study's authors include Senior Fellows Rob Dunbar (Earth Sciences) and William Durham (Biology), Woods-affiliated Professor of Biological Sciences Fiorenza Micheli and Woods-affiliated Assistant Professor of Anthropology Doug Bird.

Read more...

"Conservation at the Edges of the World," Biological Conservation, September 2013

The Best Defense Against Catastrophic Storms: Mother Nature

Extreme weather, sea level rise and degraded coastal systems are placing people and property at greater risk along the coast. Natural habitats such as dunes and reefs are critical to protecting millions of U.S. residents and billions of dollars in property from these risks, according to a study by scientists with the Natural Capital Project. It offers the first comprehensive map of the entire U.S. coastline that shows where and how much protection communities get from natural habitats. The study's authors include Woods Consulting Professor and Natural Capital Project Managing Director Mary Ruckelshaus and Natural Capital Project-affiliated researchers Katie Arkema, Greg Guanel, Spencer A. Wood, Anne Guerry, Martin Lacayo and Jessica M. Silver.

Read more...

"Coastal Habitats Shield People and Property From Sea Level Rise and Storms," Nature Climate Change, July 14, 2013

Pest-Eating Birds Mean Money for Coffee Growers

In recent years, Stanford biologists have found that coffee growers in Costa Rica bolster bird biodiversity by leaving patches of their plantations as untouched rain forest. The latest finding from these researchers, including Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellows Gretchen Daily, Paul Ehrlich and Liz Hadly, all biology professors, suggests that the birds are returning the favor to farmers by eating an aggressive coffee bean pest, the borer beetle, thereby improving coffee bean yields by hundreds of dollars per hectare. The study is the first to put a monetary value on the pest-control benefits rain forests can provide to agriculture, which the researchers hope can inform both farmers and conservationists. Daniel Karp, a biology graduate student and past participant in the Rising Environmental Leaders Program, was lead author.

Photo credit: Daniel Karp

Read more...

"Forest Bolsters Bird Abundance, Pest Control and Coffee Yield," Ecology Letters, Aug. 27, 2013

 

Other Ecosystem Services Research

"BeneŜts, Costs and Livelihood Implications of a Regional Payment for Ecosystem Service Program," PNAS, Sept. 3, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Gretchen Daily (Biology) and Woods Consulting Professor Mary Ruckelshaus, managing director of the Natural Capital Project

"Notes From the Field: Lessons Learned From Using Ecosystem Services to Inform Real-World Decisions," Ecological Economics, Aug. 23, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Gretchen Daily (Biology), Consulting Professor Mary Ruckelshaus and Academic Researcher Anne Guerry (Natural Capital Project)

"To Kill a Kangaroo: Understanding the Decision to Pursue High-Risk/High-Gain Resources," Proceedings of the Royal Society B, July 24, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow James Holland Jones (Anthropology) and Woods-affiliated Senior Research Scientist Doug Bird and Associate Professor of Anthropology Rebecca Bird

"Environmental and Community Controls on Plant Canopy Chemistry in a Mediterranean-Type Ecosystem," PNAS July 24, 2013; co-authored by Senior Fellow Chris Field (Biology)

“Effects of High Frequency Understory Fires on Early Plant Succession in Southeastern Amazonian Forests," Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, June 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Lisa Curran (Anthropology)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute ecosystem services research
 
Food Security

In Agriculture, Closer May Be Better

For agricultural firms, being located close to other agricultural firms has a host of powerful effects. It leads to more competition and diversity, and it influences prices, information flows and private enforcement of environmental institutions. A paper co-authored by graduate student Rachael Garrett (Center on Food Security and the Environment) and Senior Fellows Rosamond Naylor (Earth Sciences, FSI) and Eric Lambin (Earth Sciences) presents a framework for understanding regional land use processes through this lens. Among the study's findings: the close proximity of soybean farms in one Brazilian county spurred innovation, increased productivity and led to extremely rapid soy expansion, while the monopolistic supply chain in another Brazilian county reduced producers' access to land and capital and impeded soy expansion

Read more...

"The New Economic Geography of Land Use Change: Supply Chain Configurations and Land Use in the Brazilian Amazon," Land Use Policy, September 2013

Irrigation Waters More Than Crops in Africa

A study co-authored by Rosamond Naylor (Earth Sciences, FSI), Woods senior fellow and Center on Food Security and the Environment director, finds that small-holder irrigation systems - those in which water access, distribution and use occur at or near the same location - have potential to reduce hunger, raise incomes and improve development prospects in an area of the world greatly in need of these advancements. These systems can use water more productively, improve nutritional outcomes and rural development, and narrow the income disparities that permit widespread hunger to persist despite economic advancement. FSE fellow Jennifer Burney was the study's lead author.

Read more...

"The Case for Distributed Irrigation as a Development Priority in Sub-Saharan Africa," PNAS, July 22, 2013

Feeding the World Without Deforesting the Planet

Do we have to accept deforestation to feed the world? That is one of the provocative questions that Senior Fellow and land use expert Eric Lambin (Earth Sciences) posed in research with far-reaching implications for policymakers, businesses and consumers. Among the findings: There is much less potentially available cropland globally than previous estimates have suggested. Perhaps surprisingly, however, we don't need to clear more land, including forests, to plant hunger-alleviating crops, according to Lambin.

"Estimating the World's Potentially Available Cropland Using a Bottom-Up Approach," Global Environmental Change, June 11, 2013

 

Other Food Security Research

"Globalization of Land Use: Displacement and Distant Drivers," Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, October 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellows Eric Lambin (Earth Sciences)

"Responding to Globalization: Impacts of Certification on Colombian Small-Scale Coffee Growers," Ecology and Society, September 2013, co-authored by Woods-affiliated postdoctoral scholar Ximenda Rueda (Center on Food Security and the Environment) and Senior Fellow Eric Lambin (Earth Sciences)

"Framing Sustainability in a Telecoupled World," Ecology and Society, June 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellows Eric Lambin (Earth Sciences), Rosamond Naylor (Earth Sciences, FSI) and Peter Vitousek (Biology)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute food security research
 
Fresh Water

New Source of Arsenic Threatens Groundwater in Vietnam

In Southern Asia, an estimated 100 million people have been exposed to risks from groundwater contaminated with naturally occurring arsenic. The tainted water, used for drinking, agriculture and industry, has resulted in a variety of serious health risks, including cancer. Drilling deeper wells has become common in the search for clean water. But new research has found that even deep wells might not remain arsenic free. The research, co-authored by Senior Fellows Steven Gorelick (Earth Sciences) and Scott Fendorf (Earth Sciences) and Woods-affiliated Professor of Electrical Engineering and Geophysics Howard Zebker, is part of ongoing efforts at Stanford to understand the extent and causes of the contamination, and to recommend precautions and solutions. Laura Erban, an environmental earth system science graduate student and Global Freshwater Initiative researcher, is the study's lead author.

Read more...

"Release of Arsenic to Deep Groundwater in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam, Linked to Pumping-Induced Land Subsidence," PNAS, Aug. 5, 2013

Rethinking Urban Water Systems

Water crises increasingly threaten our health, security and economic livelihoods. In the U.S. and elsewhere, outdated water infrastructure groans under growing demand, climate change and other pressures. Decades have passed without the implementation of large-scale, paradigm-shifting technology, management approaches or efficiency techniques. The problem isn't just a matter of innovation, but a failure to fully consider and act on political, cultural, social and economic factors, according to a new paper co-authored by Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow and Co-Director Buzz Thompson.

Read more...

"The Innovation Deficit in Urban Water: The Need for an Integrated Perspective on Institutions, Organizations and Technology," Environmental Engineering Science, August 2013

 

Other Freshwater Research

"Water and Energy Nexus: A Literature Review," Sept. 4, 2013, co-authored by Visiting Scholar Cynthia Truelove and Water in the West Program Executive Director Andrew Fahlund

"Hyporheic Zone in Urban Streams: A Review and Opportunities for Enhancing Water Quality and Improving Aquatic Habitat by Active Management," Environmental Engineering Science, Aug. 14, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Richard Luthy (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"Introduction: Reinventing Urban Water Infrastructure," Environmental Engineering Science, Aug. 14, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Richard Luthy (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"Renewing Urban Streams With Recycled Water for Streamflow Augmentation: Hydrologic, Water Quality and Ecosystem Services Management," Environmental Engineering Science, Aug. 14, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Richard Luthy (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"Unit Process Wetlands for Removal of Trace Organic Contaminants and Pathogens From Municipal Wastewater Effluents," Environmental Engineering Science, Aug. 14, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Richard Luthy (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"Assessing the Scale of Resource Recovery for Centralized and Satellite Wastewater Treatment," Environmental Science and Technology, Aug. 9, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellows Craig Criddle (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and David Freyberg (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"Use of On-Site Bioreactors to Estimate the Biotransformation Rate of N-ethyl Perfluorooctane Sulfonamidoethanol (N-EtFOSE) During Activated Sludge Treatment," Chemosphere, July 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Craig Criddle (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"Chemical and Biological Processes: The Need for Mixing," Chapter 2 in Delivery and Mixing in the Subsurface: Process and Design Principles for In Situ Remediation, SERDP and ESTCP Remediation Technology Monograph Series, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Craig Criddle (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Woods-affiliated Professor of Civil Engineering, Emeritus, Perry McCarty

"Bioaugmentation With Pseudomonas Stutzeri KC for Remediation of Carbon Tetrachloride," Chapter 9 in Bioaugmentation for Remediation, SERDP and ESTCP Remediation Technology Monograph Series, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Craig Criddle (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute freshwater research
 
Oceans

Great White Sharks' Fuel for Oceanic Voyages: Liver Oil

Great white sharks are not exactly known as picky eaters, so it might seem obvious that these voracious predators would dine often and well on their migrations across the Pacific Ocean. But not so, according to new research by scientists at Stanford and the Monterey Bay Aquarium including Senior Fellow Barbara Block (Biology). The researchers' findings reveal previously unknown details of how great white sharks power themselves and stay buoyant on nonstop trips of more than 2,500 miles. The discoveries have potentially broad implications for conservation and management of coastal waters.

Read more...

"Travelling Light: White Sharks (Carcharodon Carcharias) Rely on Body Lipid Stores to Power Ocean-Basin Scale Migration," Proceedings of the Royal Society B, July 17, 2013

 

New Approach Reveals Coral Secrets

The rain forests of the ocean, coral reefs support incredible biodiversity and sustain millions of people. Understanding how these critical ecosystems will respond to the challenges of climate change and ocean acidification is an environmental and socioeconomic imperative. A recent study co-authored by environmental earth system science Ph.D. student Lida Teneva, Center for Ocean Solutions Early Career Fellow Jamie Dunckley and Senior Fellows Rob Dunbar (Earth Sciences) and, Woods Co-Director Jeff Koseff (Civil and Environmental Engineering), makes exciting findings about a novel experimental framework for nondestructive reef field studies. The new approach can help gather unprecedented high-resolution physical, chemical and biological information from coral reefs. This discovery holds the promise of pinpointing factors that make reefs resilient to climate change.

Read more...

"High-Resolution Carbon Budgets on a Palau Back-Reef Modulated by Interactions Between Hydrodynamics and Reef Metabolism: Insights for Ocean Acidification Impacts," Limnology and Oceanography, September 2013

Traditional Fishing Practice Brings Added Benefits

Throughout the Pacific, "subsistence" fishing feeds not only individual fishers and their families but a much broader network of people through the noncommercial distribution, or sharing, of fish. A study co-authored by Senior Fellow Peter Vitousek (Biology) and former Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment & Resources graduate student Mehana Vaughan evaluates the importance of this sharing, through tracking subsistence fish catch and distributions (mahele) in one small Hawaii fishery over an 18-month period. It finds that this system provides benefits beyond provisioning of food, which enhance resilience of community-level social and ecological systems.

Read more...

"Mahele: Sustaining Communities Through Small-Scale Inshore Fishery Catch and Sharing Networks," Pacific Science, July 2013

 

Other Oceans Research

"Effects of Temperature Acclimation on Pacific Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus orientalis) Cardiac Transcriptome," American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Sept. 4, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Barbara Block (Biology)

"Community Dynamics and Ecosystem Simplification in a High-CO2 Ocean," PNAS, July 8, 2013, co-authored by Woods-affiliated Professor of Biological Sciences Fiorenza Micheli

"Spatial and Temporal Variations in Variable Fluoresence in the Ross Sea (Antarctica): Oceanographic Correlates and Bloom Dynamics," Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Reasearch Papers, September 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Rob Dunbar (Earth Sciences)

"Temporal and Spatial Variability of the Internal Wave Field in a Lake With Complex Morphometry," Limnology and Oceanography, September 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Steven Monismith (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"Retreat History of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet Since the Last Glacial Maximum," Quaternary Science Reviews, Aug. 27, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Rob Dunbar (Earth Sciences)

"Emerging Frontiers in Social-Ecological Systems Research for Sustainability of Small-Scale Fisheries," Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, September 2013, co-authored by Senior Lecturer Meg Caldwell (Law), Senior Fellow Larry Crowder (Biology) and Woods Early Career Fellow Jack Kittinger (Center for Ocean Solutions)

"Improving Ocean Planning Through the Use of Ecological Principles and Integrated Ecosystem Assessments," BioScience, August 2013, co-authored by Senior Lecturer Meg Caldwell (Law), Senior Fellow Larry Crowder (Biology) and Woods Early Career Fellows Ashley Erickson, Melissa Foley, Jack Kittinger and Erin Prahler, all with the Center for Ocean Solution

"Wave Transformation and Wave-Driven Flow Across a Steep Coral Reef," Journal of Physical Oceanography, July 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Steven Monismith (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

"Early Bomb Radiocarbon Detected in Palau Archipelago Corals," Radiocarbon, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Rob Dunbar (Earth Sciences)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute oceans research
 
Public Health

Bats Spreading Deadly Virus

The Nipah virus, spread by bats, is killing people in Southeast Asia and could pose the threat of a global pandemic, says Senior Fellow Stephen Luby (Medicine, FSI). If the virus adapts to more efficient human-to-human transmission, "then in our globally connected world, humanity could face its most devastating pandemic," Luby writes in a commentary. To avoid this outcome, Luby suggests a range of measures.

 

Read more...

"The Pandemic Potential of Nipah Virus," Antiviral Research, October 2013

Learning How to Fight a Child-Killer

Children in poor countries have a good chance of contracting intestinal infections that contribute to long-term health and development problems. We know that good water quality, sanitation, hand washing and nutrition can, on their own, reduce these debilitating infections. However, there is little evidence that directly compares the effects of these individual and combined interventions on diarrhea in infants and young children. Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under 5 years old. A paper co-authored by Senior Fellow Stephen Luby (Medicine, FSI) and Woods Research Associate Amy Pickering (Water, Health & Development) attempts to fill this knowledge gap. It describes the design and rationale of two trial studies in Bangladesh and Kenya to better understand the impacts on child growth and development of water, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition interventions alone and in combination.

Read more...

"Cluster-Randomised Controlled Trials of Individual and Combined Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Nutritional Interventions in Rural Bangladesh and Kenya: the WASH Benefits Study Design and Rationale," BMJ Open, Aug. 30, 2013

A Possible Solution for Poor Hygiene Where Water is Lacking

Hand-washing is difficult in settings with limited resources and water access. In primary schools within urban Kibera, Kenya, researchers including Senior Fellow Jenna Davis (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Woods Research Associate Amy Pickering (Water, Health & Development) investigated the impact of providing waterless hand sanitizer on student hand hygiene behavior. The results show that providing the sanitizer markedly increased student hand cleaning after toilet use, whereas providing soap did not.

Read more...

"Access to Waterless Hand Sanitizer Improves Student Hand Hygiene Behavior in Primary Schools in Nairobi, Kenya," BMJ Open, Aug. 1, 2013

 

Other Public Health Research

"Mechanisms of Post-Supply Contamination of Drinking Water in Bagamoyo, Tanzania," Journal of Water Health, Sept. 11, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Jenna Davis (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Woods-affiliated Professor of Structural Engineering Alexandria Boehm

"The Challenge of Global Water Access Monitoring: Evaluating Straight-Line Distance Versus Self- Reported Travel Time Among Rural Households in Mozambique," Journal of Water and Health, Sept. 24, 2013, co-authored by Senior Fellow Jenna Davis (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

 

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute public health research
 
Sustainable Development

A New Approach to Making Climate Treaties Work

When it comes to international climate change negotiations, the path from futility to progress likely lies in the way that agreements are designed, according to a new study co-authored by Woods-affiliated Professor of Political Science Kenneth Scheve, a senior fellow with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. The study found that architects of global climate treaties can significantly increase public support – even among those who generally oppose international climate cooperation – by adopting features that resonate with norms of reciprocity and distributional fairness, such as maximizing country participation and including enforcement mechanisms.

Read more...

"Mass Support for Global Climate Agreements Depends on Institutional Design," PNAS, July 25, 2013

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute public opinion research
 
Sustainable Development

Carbon Tax Uncertainty

The manufacturing industry accounts for the vast majority of industrial energy use. Manufacturers' incentives to improve energy efficiency are tied to variability in input and output markets – a factor which suggests that a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system may reduce energy efficiency investment in the sector, according to a study co-authored by Senior Fellow Erica Plambeck (Business). The study shows evidence that input price variability reduces the value of the efficiency of output produced per unit of input, but increases the rate at which a production facility can convert input into output. Output price variability, on the other hand, increases the value of capacity efficiency, but it increases the value of input efficiency only if the expected margin is small. The value of a third process improvement, developing the ability to respond to a rise in input cost or fall in output price by increasing input efficiency at the expense of capacity efficiency, decreases with variability in input and output prices only if the expected margin is thin.

Read more...

"On the Value of Input EfŜciency, Capacity EfŜciency and the Flexibility to Rebalance Them," M&SOM, Aug. 9, 2013

Oil Palm Implications

In an ecologically precious part of Costa Rica, farmers are increasingly converting cropland and pasture to oil palm plantations. Oil palm provides predictable, year-round harvests and, to date, consistent demand. A case study co-authored by anthropology graduate students Emily Beggs and Ellen Moore, researchers with the Osa & Golfito Initiative, explores the social and economic implications of local oil palm cultivation. Beggs and Moore use interviews with growers and agricultural association leaders to describe oil palm's role in rural livelihoods and agro-ecosystems, as well its influence on land use and labor markets. Using interview data, existing literature and field observations, the researchers offer recommendations to maximize oil palm's economic sustainability while mitigating potential ecological consequences in the region.

Read more...

"The Social Landscape of African Oil Palm Production in the Osa and Golfito Region, Costa Rica," June 2013

  More information about Stanford Woods Institute sustainable development research
 
 
 
Find Us on the Web

FaceBook Twitter YouTube

The Stanford Woods Institute Research Digest is a quarterly report of findings by Woods fellows and affiliated faculty, as well as fellows with the Institute's Leopold Leadership Program. Current and past issues are online.

Contact us to subscribe or provide information about new and forthcoming research.

To learn more about the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, visit our website or email us.

Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
Jerry Yang & Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Energy Building - MC 4205
473 Via Ortega
Stanford, CA 94305