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Climate change

Fall 2010

Too much of a good thing

Science has been predicting and measuring our warming planet for more than a century now. But it was only in the last two decades that most Americans came to believe the earth’s temperature was indeed rising and that the main culprit is the growing amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

Now scientists are giving a lot of thought to another culprit: nitrogen. Like carbon dioxide, it’s seemingly benign—colorless, odorless, tasteless, and a foundation of life on our planet. Left alone, it tightly binds to itself in inert, two-atom molecules, or N2. It’s ridiculously commonplace, making up four-fifths of our atmosphere. It’s also a modern … » More …

Summer 2010

Reply to letter from Herman Goetjen

 

Letter:

I really enjoyed the article on Bob Mierendorf’s work in the North Cascades National Park.

However, a couple of the photos raise some questions for me if you can pass them on to Bob for me. On page 29, the top two photos show a large culturally modified stone, in the left photo Bob has his hand on it, in the right hand photo it is next to his arm.

What I would like to know is: How did that stone become so modified? And what do you think its purpose was? There are no hints in the article or the caption for … » More …

Winter 2009

The Rising Sea

risingsea-cover

Orrin H. Pilkey ’57 and Rob Young

Island Press, 2009

The island nations of Tuvalu and the Maldives, the Inupiat Eskimo village of Shishmaref, and Soldado Island off the Colombian coast might be tough to find on a geography quiz. But all of these locations foretell a future of oceans overwhelming coastlines. In each of these remote places, residents are either moving or preparing to move to higher ground before their homes get swallowed by the … » More …

Winter 2002

The sink’s nearly full

Some climate change researchers have placed high hopes in forest and grassland soils and their ability to act as carbon “sinks.” These sinks store excess atmospheric carbon and thus partially offset the effect of increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, a recent study by Washington State University environmental scientist Richard Gill and his colleagues indicate the sink may be reaching capacity.

Although carbon dioxide has been increasing in the atmosphere for the last 10,000 years, the increase has been especially rapid in the last 150 years because of the industrial revolution and the conversion of land to agricultural uses. The rate of … » More …

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 ...