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Spring 2017

TalkBack for Spring 2017


Where would the wood?… 

I enjoyed the article “Wood Takes Wing” in the Winter 16 edition of Washington State Magazine on the many possibilities for wood as a new source of carbon molecules for all of those polymers we take for granted. Technologies that allow us to reduce burning of fossil fuels for energy recognize its highest value. The potential for atmospheric carbon reduction is a plus.

But there was an unasked question hanging behind the article—where will the timber come from to fill the old mills? The same environmental groups who just say no to transporting or burning fossil fuels also eagerly block … » More …

Winter 2016

But is it really green?

With food and other products, we are often concerned with the number of miles the food has travelled to get to our tables. Locavorism encourages people to consume foods produced within 100 miles of home.

But is the number of miles travelled really all there is to measuring a product’s carbon footprint?

The answer is an emphatic no. The analysis of a product’s carbon footprint is in fact extremely complex and needs to take in to account every step of that product’s lifecycle from cradle to grave.

Life-cycle assessment, or cradle-to-grave analysis, must account for everything that went in to making that product (including … » More …

Winter 2016

Wood Takes Wing

The most complex chemistry lab on the planet is growing in your neighborhood. There might be a tree in your own backyard, cranking out chemicals as it converts sunlight to food, wards off pests, and circulates water and nutrients through it roots, branches, and leaves.

So diverse is the chemical compendium produced by trees that we get aspirin (willow bark is a natural source of salicylic acid and has been used to treat pain since ancient times), the ink Leonardo used in his notebooks (from leaf galls produced by wasp larvae), and natural antibacterials (the fiber in cedar chips is used to make hospital gowns).

» More …