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Environmental Studies

Winter 2007

Time will tell

Climate change is nothing new to our planet. But this time it's different. The carbon dioxide we are putting into the air through industry, vehicle emissions, and deforestation is changing the way our soil works. That in turn affects plant, animal, and eventually human life. Through their research Washington State University scientists are challenging the conventional view that more plants and forests will solve our CO2 problems. » More ...
Summer 2009

Plowed Under: Agriculture and Environment in the Palouse

Andrew P. Duffin PhD ’02
University of Washington Press, 2007

This is an important and disturbing book, both for the environmental degradation it documents and the message of what little progress our agricultural practices on the Palouse have made.

In a sense, the precursor of Plowed Under was a series of lectures by William Spillman in 1924. Spillman, a versatile and prescient scientist, was one of Washington State Agricultural College’s first faculty members, hired by … » More …

Summer 2006

Uncommon access: Gaylord Mink shifts his focus from viruses to wild horses

Gaylord Mink, hunched over and quiet as a mule deer, picks his way through rugged rangeland near the center of the Yakama Indian Reservation.

Mink stops, straightens, and scans toward Dry Creek Elbow in the distance. Much closer, five wild horses lift their own heads to meet his gaze. They are all well within range.

The small band’s stallion snorts a warning as the nervous mares and a colt seem anxious to bolt. Mink snorts back, and the stallion circles even closer to take up the challenge, dragging his wary entourage in his wake.

Mink is a hunter who doesn’t pack a gun. He shoots … » More …

Fall 2008

Let the invasions begin

As Beijing prepared to welcome athletes and spectators to the Olympic Games, a quieter and much less welcome influx was already under way.

According to a new study by Washington State University ecologist Richard Mack and four Chinese colleagues, China’s explosive economic growth and ambitious public-works projects have allowed non-native species of plants, insects, and other organisms to spread throughout the country and inflict more than $14 billion of damage on the nation’s economy—and the Olympic Games could provide an opportunity for even more biological invaders.

Mack and his co-authors combed through trade and economic data to discover that China’s economic boom has been accompanied … » More …

Fall 2003

Flames in Our Forest: Disaster or Renewal?

Forest fires have been much in the news. Beginning with the Yellowstone fires in 1988, the West has lived through a series of intense fire years. In 2000, the federal government spent nearly $1.6 billion fighting fires. But over the same period there has been a discordant message: fires, we are told, shaped the forests and the wildlife that inhabit them; fires are, in fact, necessary to the continued existence of many species of plants and animals. Smokey the Bear’s message of fire’s destructive nature, his plea on behalf of other woodland creatures that “fires destroy more than trees,” has lost its venerable certainty.

Are … » More …

Winter 2006

Mimicking Nature's Fire: Restoring Fire-Prone Forests in the West

Forest health has been much in the news. It is a powerful metaphor—but one of uncertain and ambiguous content. Congress has used it to avoid environmental assessments of logging; opponents of logging have often portrayed it as a smokescreen. Mimicking Nature’s Fire is in part a guide to this debate. Stephen Arno (’65 For.), a forest ecologist, and Carl E. Fiedler, a silviculturist, have combined their talents to argue for “restoration forestry,” an approach that seeks to reestablish “an approximation of historical structure and ecological processes to tree communities that were in the past shaped by distinctive patterns of fire.” The book is divided into … » More …

Summer 2008

Alternative Energy: Political, Economic, and Social Feasibility

Christopher A. Simon (’97 Ph.D.)
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Lanham, MD, 2006

Readers wishing to stay current on one of today’s most important public policy issues—the transition from fossil fuels to alternative energies—would do well to pick up a copy of Alternative Energy: Political, Economic, and Social Feasibility by University of Nevada-Reno political science professor, Christopher A. Simon (’94 M.A., ’97 Ph.D.).

In this sophisticated, insightful, and well written book on the current global … » More …