Tag » Sustainability

Countdown on the Columbia
October 2, 2010

Countdown on the Columbia

Deadline looms for the river that turned darkness to dawn

More than 400 dams produce power and control floods in the nation’s fourth largest river basin. The U.S./Canada treaty that established responsibilities for water flow and power sharing is due for renewal.


Uncharted Waters
July 23, 2010

Uncharted Waters

Communities, engineers and scientists prepare for the next tsunami

It may come like it did the last time, in the middle of a cold and blustery January night. Suddenly the ground will begin to shake, windows will shatter, bridges collapse, the electricity will go out and parents will frantically try to find a flashlight and dig sleepy kids out of bed, ignore everything else […]


The Persistence of Species
July 17, 2010

The Persistence of Species

An ecologist seeks clues to forest biodiversity

In the tropics of Costa Rica, this violet sabrewing hummingbird is helping researchers understand the effects of forest fragmentation on ecosystems.


From Problem to Profit
July 17, 2010

From Problem to Profit

Western juniper could benefit Oregon's "green" economy

Which of Oregon’s abundant tree species can provide not only logs for your vacation cabin but scented oil for your afternoon massage and flavor for your evening cocktail? Juniperus occidentalis, western juniper. This hardy species – which is endemic to the dry, rocky grasslands east of the Cascades – has heartwood that is both beautiful […]


Partners in Rural Vitality
April 24, 2010

Partners in Rural Vitality

OSU students and faculty team with Wallowa Resources to address rural development

Beautiful landscapes may inspire us, but it takes more than scenery to create community vitality. Wallowa County and rural communities across the country struggle with economic development, a future for their youth and the cultural tensions that arise from changing land ownership. For more than a decade, such issues in Wallowa have been addressed by Wallowa […]


Paying for Pavement
April 23, 2010

Paying for Pavement

Vehicle mileage fee could replace the gas tax

Praise the gas tax. For every gallon pumped into pickups, SUVs and miserly subcompacts, Oregonians put 24¢ into the state highway fund and another 18.3¢ into the federal. On top of that, two Oregon counties (Washington and Multnomah) and 21 cities add their own levies for local roads. In 2005, about 80 percent of Oregon’s […]


The Mythbuster
April 17, 2010

The Mythbuster

OSU graduate student Jesse Abrams interviewed ranchers, homeowners, business people and local officials to understand changes unfolding in Wallowa County.


March 23, 2010

From Margin to Mainstream

Scientists help farmers boost organic production

“The organic movement has evolved from a fringe element associated with a lost generation to a core business strategy of the world’s largest corporations.” –Reuters News Service, September 2008 When California-based Amy’s Kitchen opened a plant in Southern Oregon in 2006, the Oregon Department of Agriculture called it “a large feather in Oregon’s organic cap.” […]


February 22, 2010

Trading on Trust

Businesses based on shared values benefit the bottom line

The search for sustainability is creating some strange bedfellows. Take, for instance, Country Natural Beef. In the Oregon-based meat co-op, cattle ranchers — known for their fierce independence — have forged surprisingly strong alliances with other ranchers across the West. Even more improbably, these no-nonsense traditionalists are collaborating with progressive health-food aficionados, animal-rights advocates and environmental […]


February 22, 2010

Girding the Grid: Engineers rethink power storage for wind

As wind turbines and solar arrays sprout up across the landscape, an urgent challenge arises: How to capture all that alternative energy for the electrical grid. Wind velocity and solar intensity vary wildly as weather changes and as seasons shift — fluctuations that are often out of sync with power demand. With $399,973 in funding […]


Living on Credit
February 22, 2010

Living on Credit

Forest landowners are beginning to turn carbon to cash

As Arctic ice thins, sea levels rise and glaciers recede, Ken Faulk takes stock of his trees in the Oregon Coast Range. Last summer, he began measuring his stands of Douglas fir and white oak by pounding plastic pipes into the ground to mark the centers of circles nearly 30 feet across. Working steadily in […]


February 22, 2010

The Range Keepers

A perennial partnership of ecologists, hydrologists and ranchers is renewing Oregon’s grasslands

The Hatfield and McCormack ranch families of Brothers, Oregon, have partnered with OSU for generations to improve rangeland ecology. (Photo: Mark Reed)


January 22, 2010

Cells for Solar

Ocean plankton grow potential for solar technology

The diatom — an ancient form of single-celled algae — may hold the key to a new generation of cheap, clean solar technology.


November 22, 2009

Green Solutions

Farming that fosters ecological balance and biological diversity is the goal of OSU’sOrganic Agriculture Program in the Department of Horticulture. The program’s 29 researchers are investigating sustainable solutions for everything from weeds and soil-borne diseases to beetle infestations and livestock waste management. Here is a sampling of studies under way. Anita Azarenko The head of […]


June 23, 2009

Climate Impacts

Abrupt global warming could shift monsoon patterns and cut agricultural output

At times in the distant past, an abrupt change in climate has been associated with a shift of seasonal monsoons to the south, a new study concludes, causing more rain to fall over the oceans than in the Earth’s tropical regions, and leading to a dramatic drop in global vegetation growth. If similar changes were […]


April 24, 2009

Where Grass Seed Is King

Oregon’s Willamette Valley is the undisputed “grass-seed capital of the world.” In close partnership with growers and scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, OSU researchers and agronomists have been at the forefront of an industry worth $500 million. Here are some of the milestones. 1909 Seed lab starts up on campus for research and […]


April 24, 2009

Building Materials for Sustainability

In the burgeoning green building sector, Oregon is poised to become a national leader. A new R&D partnership forged with cross-university linkages positions the state as a major powerhouse in 
sustainable materials, technologies and designs. Oregon BEST (Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center) has pulled together $1.6 million in multi-source funding to infuse and expand […]


April 24, 2009

Kearney Hall, Showcase for Civil Engineers

An antiquated building on OSU’s northeast corner has undergone a thoroughly modern makeover. Celebrants who attend Kearney Hall’s grand opening on May 15 will observe its 19th-century heritage faithfully refurbished on the exterior. But on the inside, Kearney has been utterly transformed. With its recycled materials, nontoxic finishes, salvaged woods, efficient lighting, low-flow fixtures and […]


April 24, 2009

Envisioning the Forest

Computer Models Combine Ecology and Economy

John Sessions likes to refer to forestry as “a bio-energy puzzle.” Like a lot of 21st-century puzzles, its solutions are digital 
and mathematical. “Forest landscape planning, as it is known today, was not possible before the advent of high-speed computers, geographic information systems, modern algorithms and graphic interfaces,” says the holder of the endowed Richard […]


April 24, 2009

Restoring the Flow

If you had happened upon Lake Creek, a tributary of Central Oregon’s Metolius River, in the fall of 2007, you might have seen Matt Shinderman and his Ecological Field Methods students standing nearly knee-deep in the water with dip nets in hand, hovering over tic-tac-toe style grids. And you might have been puzzled when they […]


April 24, 2009

Eat Locally, Market Globally

Dann Cutter has maintained a reactor on a nuclear submarine and, for the past 12 years, kept the computer networks running at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. He serves on the Waldport, Oregon city council and two state advisory boards (rural health care and transportation). Why, then, would he return to college for […]


April 23, 2009

Climate by the Numbers

Modelers explore future states of the planet

You can’t just walk into the data center in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS). The sign on the door says you need a pass card. There should be another sign too: Caution, planetary experiments in progress. Inside, computer clusters churn 24/7, spinning out information about ocean currents, winds, air temperatures, ice […]


Power Surge
April 23, 2009

Power Surge

New nuclear technologies meet needs for electricity and safety

Last winter, the cavernous vault housing OSU’s nuclear test facility was base camp for a team of elite scientists from Shanghai and Beijing. For six months, the Chinese engineers studied every bolt, tube and plastic elbow in the scale-model reactor. They ran accident simulations and analyzed the data. They posited every scenario under the sun, […]


Once and Future King
February 22, 2009

Once and Future King

Salmon could rebound if we’re willing to pay the price

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were early witnesses to the majesty that is the salmon in the Pacific Northwest. When the explorers first came upon the confluence of the Yakima and Columbia rivers, they observed a scene that was both confusing and awe-inspiring. Wrote Clark: “This river is remarkably Clear and Crouded with Salmon in […]


Was Nature Ever Wild?
January 24, 2009

Was Nature Ever Wild?

The human face in 
environmental restoration

When Spanish expeditions explored what is now the Santa Barbara, California, region in the 16th and 17th centuries, they found thriving native communities.


Lessons from the Magic Planet
January 23, 2009

Lessons from the Magic Planet

Researchers are engaging the curious in meaningful inquiry

Researchers are engaging the curious in meaningful inquiry


Sustainable Supply Chains
July 19, 2008

Sustainable Supply Chains

Recycling spurs innovation

Recycling isn’t just for consumers. Manufacturers are finding competitive advantages in what is known as “end-of-life product management,” says OSU business professor Zhaohui Wu. While dealing with old desktop computers and other high-tech cast-offs can be expensive, innovative companies are redesigning their products — and their supply chains — in response to “take-back” laws cropping […]


Windows on Watersheds
April 23, 2008

Windows on Watersheds

A clear look at industrial forests

Old-style logging left scars on the landscape, but nearly 40 years ago, research in Oregon changed tree-cutting practices. Now researchers are joining landowners to update the science behind modern forest management.


Invaders in the Dunes
January 23, 2008

Invaders in the Dunes

Unnoticed by most beach–goers, a showdown is under way in Oregon’s coastal dunes, and the winner could pack increased risks for coastal property, especially during winter storms. OSU scientists have documented a slow but steady takeover by American beach grass (Ammophila breviligulata), an invasive species from the East Coast and Great Lakes. They have found […]


Risk Versus Cost
January 23, 2008

Risk Versus Cost

The Politics of Safety

Why have years of expert warnings failed to mobilize citizens and their representatives to fully fund an overhaul of transportation infrastructure? Bill Lunch, chair of OSU’s Department of Political Science, has devoted decades to observing and analyzing Oregon’s political and public-policy scene. The professor, who is well-known to listeners of Oregon Public Broadcasting, recently shared […]