Terra in Print: Winter 2010

Cover of winter 2010 issue featuring illustration of tree

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Sweetspot for Carbon

Tropical rain forests capture our imaginations with their breathtaking beauty and diversity. But acre for acre, when it comes to absorbing and storing carbon from the air, they can’t beat the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. At a time when landowners are beginning to see cash for carbon, that means opportunity.

As our cover story explains, the science of carbon sequestration – the process of absorbing carbon and keeping it out of the atmosphere for long periods of time – is young. OSU scientists Beverly Law and Mark Harmon are among the leaders in that field, but how their work translates into policy is still a matter of hot debate.

Meanwhile, if you want a stake in this arena, you have options. You can support The Climate Trust, the Portland-based nonprofit that is investing in forest-based carbon storage in Deschutes County, the state of Washington and elsewhere. Through the Pacific Forest Trust, Green Mountain Energy will sell you carbon credits for $19.95 a ton, based on a 100-year plan for the Van Eck forest in Northern California (payments for 185,000 metric tons of carbon credits have reached nearly $2 million, according to Christine Harrison, PFT communications director). And if you are a family-forest landowner, you can learn more about Woodlands Carbon of Salem, one of two pilot projects supported by the American Forest Foundation to assemble and sell carbon credits.

OSU researchers and Extension foresters are in the thick of the emerging science. They run monitoring programs and develop computer models. They assist Woodlands Carbon by calculating carbon uptake and conducting workshops on forest planning. They take a leading role in national and international public policy studies for the U.S. Forest Service, the State Department and the United Nations. They focus on economics, land use and carbon monitoring. Their work could contribute to a comprehensive carbon accounting system, which will be a crucial part of an international program known as REDD, Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation, the most successful outcome of the recent climate talks in Copenhagen.

The forest carbon story wouldn’t be complete without wood products and their role in reducing the carbon footprint of industrial economies. As OSU Professor Jim Wilson and his colleagues have demonstrated, wood takes less energy to produce than concrete, plastic or steel. They have shown that over their life cycle, products from sustainably managed forests will be part of a comprehensive solution to climate change.

— Nick Houtman

Balance of Power

Balance of Power

Departments, Healthy Economy, Perspectives, Terra Blog, Winter 2010, Winter 2011

By Kate Sinner, Director of Federal Relations Renewable ocean wave energy seems like a natural. It promises jobs for Oregon and carbon-free power for the nation. It can reduce our dependence on foreign oil and contribute to economic development. But before we can realize that potential, we need to be careful to find a balance. […]

Redrawing the Map

Departments, Healthy Planet, New Terrain, Winter 2010

Maps of Oregon’s territorial sea are due for an upgrade.

Two Business Startups Get Boost from OSU Fund

Departments, Healthy Economy, New Terrain, Winter 2010

An innovative tax credit program aimed at fast-tracking commercialization of university research stands as a bright spot in Oregon’s sputtering economy.

Stimulating Research

Departments, Healthy Economy, New Terrain, Winter 2010

Oregon State University research projects are receiving a stimulus boost through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)

Solar Gain

Departments, Winter 2010

With support from the University Venture Development Fund, Alex Chang and a student research team envision electricity-generating solar collectors built into windows, roofs and other building parts.

Singing of Science

Departments, Healthy People, Winter 2010

Like most teachers, Kevin Ahern savors the smile on his students’ faces when they suddenly get it. He remembers having those bright “ah hah” moments in school only too well. But Ahern, who teaches introductory and advanced biochemistry classes to many of Oregon State University’s pre-med students, has another reason for wanting to drive science into […]

Depths of Discovery

Depths of Discovery

Departments, Earth, Student Research, Winter 2010

The colossal clamshells caught the young scientist’s eye soon after he arrived at Oregon State University in the late 1970s. Giant bivalves the size of footballs were piled in the corners of offices and cradled in the arms of researchers walking the halls of the School of Oceanography. “I realized pretty quickly that they weren’t […]

Trading on Trust

Departments, Winter 2010

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 […]

Investing in the Best

Departments, Winter 2010

Do you know what this is?” the three students asked as they presented Ilene Kleinsorge with a smooth, black sculpture. She looked at the carved figure, a trio of human forms holding an orb aloft. “Sure, it’s ebony,” replied Kleinsorge, dean of the OSU College of Business. “It’s us!” exclaimed the students, who had brought the gift […]

Regulating Immunity: Toxicologists seek novel gene therapies

Departments, Healthy People, New Terrain, Winter 2010

Dioxin, the chemical pollutant made infamous by Vietnam-era defoliant Agent Orange, has long been known to suppress immune function in humans and other animals. Surprisingly, this dangerous side effect has a scientific silver lining. While studying the toxin’s health effects, researchers discovered the genetic pathway to immune system malfunction. For people who would actually benefit […]

Blue Hue

Departments, Healthy Economy, New Terrain, Winter 2010

An ancient quest for the perfect blue ended in a hot furnace in OSU’s Department of Chemistry — totally by accident. A blue pigment that is both safe and stable eluded the Egyptians, the Han Dynasty and the Mayans. The French developed cobalt blue in the 1800s, but it contains carcinogens. Prussian blue releases cyanide. […]

Girding the Grid: Engineers rethink power storage for wind

Departments, Healthy Planet, New Terrain, Winter 2010

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 […]

Product Lines

Product Lines

Departments, Footprints, Winter 2010

These 12 biotechnology, energy and computer software companies account for about 300 jobs and $100 million in investment. They have spun off directly from or leveraged relationships with Oregon State University research. (Source: OSU Office of Technology Transfer) Strands Personal recommendation software Corvallis, Oregon Fizzy Fruit Carbonated strawberries and grapes Portland, Oregon Clear Shape Technologies […]

Living on Credit

Living on Credit

Features, Multimedia, Winter 2010

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 […]

The Stress Paradox

Features, Winter 2010

Carolyn Aldwin has been privy to countless untold secrets, heartbreaking stories from war zones, hospital wards and prisoner-of-war camps. People from all walks of life have confided their everyday problems and their worst nightmares to her. “I talked to someone who was a lawyer at the Nuremberg Trials,” she says. “I’ve talked to people who’ve […]

The Range Keepers

Multimedia, Winter 2010

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

Girl GIRL Boy Boy

Features, Winter 2010

At the “Shahargaon” community clinic near Delhi in 2008, Sunil Khanna worked with doctors and community workers to learn about women’s reproductive heath-care needs and their views on son preference. Khanna’s interviews helped him develop community-based intervention programs. (Photo: Lakshman Anand)

Agricultural Sciences Welcomes New Dean

Departments, Healthy Economy, Winter 2010

An agricultural leader from Purdue University became dean of the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences in August.

A Bracero’s Story

A Bracero’s Story

Departments, Fall 2009, Inquiry, Student Research, Winter 2010

It started with Salvador, the patriarch. In 1959, he left his wife and children near Guadalajara, Mexico, to work the fields of California.