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Environmental Studies

Eugene Rosa. Photo Robert Hubner
Fall 2013

Eugene Rosa 1942–2013—Working for people and the planet

When you fill out a career pushing the limits of knowledge, rising to “pioneer in your field” status, things are bound to get pretty technical.

Gene Rosa, environmental sociologist, lived that reality, penning papers with terms like “biosociology,” “post-normal risk,” and acronym-rich analytical tools like STIRPAT. In spite of the technical thickets of his work, say friends and colleagues, Rosa kept his eye on the increasingly threatened natural environment and the people in it.

“Gene was not just interested in the environment for its own sake, but rather he had a deep desire to see a better world, one with greater quality of life and … » More …

Spring 2013

Passing the Smell Test

The act of smelling starts out as chemical detection but often ends up as an emotional trigger

Among all the modern variations on evolution are several hundred shoppers who two years ago wandered into a home decoration store in northern Switzerland. For most of them, it was just another chance to buy some plates or a basket, with the exception of a researcher asking them to fill out a questionnaire at the cash register. But after nearly a month of monitoring customers, researchers noticed that one group of about 100 spent on average significantly more money. The customers told the researchers as much, and receipts … » More …

Hanford
Spring 2013

Tiny cracks, big effect

Of all the troubling images evoked by the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site, the plume of uranium-tainted groundwater seeping into the Columbia River comes near the top of the list. Millions of gallons of radioactive waste were processed at the site and, starting in the ’40s, government scientists detected it in the area’s groundwater.

One site, called the 300 Area, has a plume of several million gallons affecting a 3,000-foot stretch of the Columbia River shoreline. Monitoring wells and riverbank springs have had uranium levels in excess of drinking-water standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The river provides drinking water … » More …

forest near Mt St Helens
Spring 2013

The forgotten forest

Early successional forests, the stage following a major disturbance such as fire, windstorm, or harvest, have typically been viewed in terms of what is missing. Considered by the forest industry as a time of reestablishment or “stand initiation,” these early successional forests have been studied from the perspective of plant-community development and the needs of selected animals. Neither view fully grasps the diverse ecological roles of the early successional stage, argue WSU forest ecologist Mark Swanson and colleagues in a 2011 paper in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Forest management throughout the twentieth century focused at first on wood production and later … » More …

Ethics of Climate change - warming globe
Winter 2012

The Ethics of Climate Change

In 2012 the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, in conjunction with the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs, began a new public symposia series that focuses on the ethical and public policy ramifications of new scientific innovations and knowledge. Each semester the symposia, which are open to the public, bring together WSU faculty with other internationally prominent scholars. The first in the series, “Ethics and Global Climate Change,” was held in April 2012, and brought to WSU’s campus Andrew Light, director of the Center for Global Ethics at George Mason University and a fellow at the Center for American … » More …

Cover of The Republic of Nature
Fall 2012

The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States

repub-nature

Mark Fiege ’85 MA
University of Washington Press, 2012

Contemplate the founding of the United States, a budding democracy carved out of a vast and unknown (to everyone other than its original inhabitants) wilderness. At some point, one might find oneself unable to extricate American history from Nature and its effects and implications. But we haven’t really, not until Fiege’s remarkable analysis.

Although he is keenly aware of Thomas Jefferson’s warning that “The moment a … » More …

Cover of Finding the River
Fall 2012

Finding the River

finding the river crane book cover

Jeff Crane ’98, ’04 PhD
Oregon State University Press, 2011

In 1992, President George H. W. Bush signed into law the Elwha Act, which called for the removal of two hydroelectric dams from the 45-mile river that flows from Washington’s Olympic Range to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Over the past year, the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams have been removed and now the decades of sediment behind them are … » More …

Water poured on pervious concrete
Summer 2012

Video: Pervious concrete for stormwater management

Liv Haselbach, associate professor with Washington State University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, researches concrete surfaces that can absorb water, rather than allowing water to run off and cause pollution, flooding, or other problems.

Haselbach says, “WSU has been installing various sections of pervious concrete and porous asphalt on the Pullman campus to see how they might help with stormwater management on campus and prevent icing conditions in the winter. Researchers in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department are monitoring various aspects of the placements, and are also testing the materials in their laboratories to determine other environmental benefits, including … » More …

Summer 2012

A brush with Snorkel Bob

There is the world of science, of measured and verified observations, of slow-moving knowledge.

And there’s a world of advocacy, of convictions, values, passion, and a desire for fast-moving change.

Only a few slides into his PowerPoint on the West Hawaii aquarium fishery, WSU marine biologist Brian Tissot notes how the two views serve to complicate the conflicts around the aquarium trade.

Science, he says, looks at the interest-based aspects of … » More …