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MSU environmental activities and accomplishments, from sources on and off-campus. For additional information on MSU environmental work, see these sources.

 


This is a subset of the breaking news related to Risk, Values and Decision Making. Click here to read all the stories in Breaking News.

 

Common ground fosters climate change understanding
MSU Today
2-17-2014

In a presentation today during the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Michigan State University systems ecologist and modeler Laura Schmitt-Olabisi shows how system dynamics models effectively communicate the challenges and implications of climate change. More»

 

Telecoupling Shows Global Impact of China's Forestation Efforts
Asian Scientist
12-26-2013

As China increases its forests, a Michigan State University (MSU) researcher asks: if a tree doesn’t fall in China, can you hear it elsewhere in the world? In the journal Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, MSU professor Jianguo “Jack” Liu dissects the global impact of China’s struggle to preserve and expand its forests even as its cities and population balloon. More»

 

Putting Harmful Waste to Good Use
MSU Today
11-11-2013

Phosphorous—ever present in human and animal waste—is a hidden danger lurking in bodies of water, from suburban Michigan ponds to lakes and streams across the nation. While it’s regulated in many states, runoff still occurs, often making water unsuitable for recreation and causing toxic algae growth. But an MSU environmental engineer is working on a solution with multiple benefits. Partnering with a private-sector firm, associate professor Steven Safferman is developing a nano-filter capable of removing phosphorus from wastewater and capturing it so that it can be reused in fertilizer products. More»

 

H20 SOS: Why should we be alarmed about water?
MSU Today
8-30-2013

Michigan State University scientists are working to ensure the world has clean, healthy water supplies today—and for years to come. Some have dedicated their careers to preserving and protecting this precious commodity. And through the university’s Global Water Initiative, MSU will add 16 new scientists to its team of more than 100 faculty members who conduct water research. More»

 

Extreme wildfires likely fueled by climate change
MSU Today
8-1-2013

Climate change is likely fueling the larger and more destructive wildfires that are scorching vast areas of the American West, according to new research led by Michigan State University scientists. “Our findings suggest that future lower atmospheric conditions may favor larger and more extreme wildfires, posing an additional challenge to fire and forest management,” said Lifeng Luo, MSU assistant professor of geography and lead author on the study. More»

 

'Evolution will punish you if you're selfish and mean'
MSU Today
8-1-2013

Two Michigan State University evolutionary biologists offer new evidence that evolution doesn’t favor the selfish, disproving a theory popularized in 2012. “We found evolution will punish you if you’re selfish and mean,” said lead author Christoph Adami, MSU professor of microbiology and molecular genetics. “For a short time and against a specific set of opponents, some selfish organisms may come out ahead. But selfishness isn’t evolutionarily sustainable.” The paper appears in the current issue of Nature Communications and focuses on game theory, which is used in biology, economics, political science and other disciplines. Much of the last 30 years of research has focused on how cooperation came to be, since it’s found in many forms of life, from single-cell organisms to people. More»

 

Maize trade disruption could have global ramifications
MSU Today
7-18-2013

Disruptions to U.S. exports of maize (corn) could pose food security risks for many U.S. trade partners due to the lack of trade among other producing and importing nations, says a Michigan State University study. The study, featured in the journal Risk Analysis, didn’t primarily focus on plant disease, population growth, climate change or the diversion of corn to nonfood uses such as ethanol. It suggests, however, that significant stresses in these areas could jeopardize food security. This is particularly true in nations like Mexico, Japan and South Korea that have yet to diversify their sources, said Felicia Wu, MSU Hannah Distinguished Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and the study’s lead author. More»

 

Teach climate change to attract science students, Michigan State researchers argue
MLive
7-15-2013

A new research paper by a team of Michigan State University scientists argues that teaching climate change is the key to attracting more students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics as fields of study. More»

 

Masters of Fate: ESPP receives new endowment from Sawyer Koch family
University Development
7-12-2013

Donald (Don) F. Koch, MSU Professor Emeritus of philosophy, and Barbara J. Sawyer-Koch (’90, M.P.A., Social Science), have established several significant current and planned gift endowment funds, the major gift being titled Fate of the Earth. With their Fate of the Earth Endowment, the Koch’s hope to encourage today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders to understand the critical need for societal changes and take the necessary steps to prevent further destruction of the Earth’s fragile environment. More»

 

MSU to study dioxin's impact on human health
WKAR
7-11-2013

Michigan State University is starting a new project to learn more about how certain environmental contaminants affect the human body. MSU will use a $14-million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study dioxins, which form a large class of chemical compounds. Dioxins do occur in nature, but most are industrial byproducts. The herbicide Agent Orange, widely used to defoliate trees and fields during the Vietnam War, is one example. More»

 

Teaming up to tackle pervasive pollutants
MSU Today
7-9-2013

Michigan State University scientists will lead a $14.1 million initiative to better understand how environmental contaminants called dioxins affect human health and to identify new ways of removing them from the environment. The researchers will use a five-year grant from the Superfund Research Program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to support multiple studies on the industrial byproducts, which work their way up the food chain to humans, potentially raising the risk of certain cancers and other diseases. “Dioxins are ubiquitous,” said lead researcher Norbert Kaminski, director of MSU’s Center for Integrative Toxicology and a professor of pharmacology and toxicology. “This class of compounds can be detected virtually everywhere in the world, and they can remain in the environment for decades.” - See more at: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/teaming-up-to-tackle-pervasive-pollutants/#sthash.BudcZFoq.dpuf More»

 

Second door discovered in war against mosquito-borne diseases
e! Science News
7-8-2013

In the global war against disease-carrying mosquitoes, scientists have long believed that a single molecular door was the key target for insecticide. This door, however, is closing, giving mosquitoes the upper hand. In this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers led by Michigan State University has discovered a second gateway that could turn the tide against the mosquitoes' growing advantage. More»

 

Telecoupling pulls pieces of sustainability puzzle together
MSU Today
6-27-2013

Scientists led by Jianguo “Jack” Liu, Michigan State University’s Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability, have built an integrated way to study a world that has become more connected – with faster and more socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances. They say “telecoupling” describes how distance is shrinking and connections are strengthening between nature and humans. - See more at: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/telecoupling-pulls-pieces-of-sustainability-puzzle-together/#sthash.c6s4MQyf.dpuf More»

 

Using Science to Address Farm Pollution
MSU Today
6-3-2013

Half of the nitrogen-based fertilizer used on U.S. crops seeps into the environment, prompting an interdisciplinary team of Michigan State University scientists to investigate ways to curb pollution. Armed with a $1.46 million, four-year grant from the National Science Foundation, the team will analyze soil, crop and climate conditions at 75 Midwestern corn farms and conduct surveys and interviews with farmers. More»

 

The politics of saving energy vs. saving the planet
MSU Today
5-20-2013

Buying an energy-efficient appliance or light bulb can seem like a green act and a good idea. But that depends on if the buyer is red or blue. Thomas Dietz of the Michigan State University Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability and colleagues muse on the complexities consumers exhibit when deciding whether or not to put their money where their carbon footprint is. More»

 

Thousands of failed septic tanks across the state threaten Michigan's waters
Bridge Magazine
5-14-2013

Failed septic systems are a concern because human sewage is loaded with pathogens that can threaten the health of people who swim in polluted waters or drink contaminated well water. Several experts interviewed by Bridge said water pollution from failed septic systems is a serious, but under-appreciated, problem across Michigan. “It’s affecting our groundwater and surface waters,” said Joan Rose, a water quality expert who holds the Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research at Michigan State University. More»

 

Modified mosquitoes may halt spread of malaria: study
Xinhua
5-10-2013

Mosquitoes infected with a type of bacteria may be used to stop the spread of malaria as they show signs of resistance to the parasite that causes the disease, according to a new study published online in the U.S. journal Science. The mosquitoes infected with the bacterium called Wolbachia, which is naturally found in up to 70 percent of insects, also have the ability to pass the bacterium to their offsprings, researchers from U.S. Michigan State University (MSU) and China's Sun Yat-Sen University reported Thursday. "In a sense, Wolbachia acts as a vaccine of sorts for mosquitoes that could protect them from malaria parasites," said Zhiyong Xi, MSU assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics who leads the study. "Our study shows that in the future it's possible the entire mosquito population will lose the ability to transmit malaria to humans." In their study, the researchers focused on Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes, the primary malaria carrier in the Middle East and South Asia, and found the key to the malaria research was identifying the correct species of Wolbachia -- wAlbB -- and then injecting it into mosquito embryos. More»

 

ESPP Student Bonnie McGill wins a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
Kellogg Biological Station Long Term Ecological Research
5-9-2013

The earth and our society face such “gi-normous” problems like climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss, food security—what can a little person like me do about it? More»

 

EPA: Tar sands pipelines should be held to different standards
National Public Radio's All Things Considered
4-24-2013

Michigan State University professor Stephen Hamilton thinks more regulation is needed because of the many ways that a tar sands spill can be more harmful to the environment and people than a conventional oil spill. Another example he cited is that tar sands oil is a lot stickier than conventional crude, so everything it touches, even rocks, cannot be cleaned and needs to be thrown away. "The consequences and the costs of the cleanup, once it gets into surface water systems as we've seen in the case of the Kalamazoo River, are incredibly high," he says. "And, you know, we'll never get it all out." More»

 

MSU Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies to become Department of Community Sustainability
MSU Today
4-18-2013

As of July 1, the Michigan State University Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies will become the Department of Community Sustainability. “The change will better capture the essence of the department’s goals and create a framework for its teaching, research and outreach programs for now and the future,” said Fred Poston, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The multidisciplinary department is revising its undergraduate majors to feature three majors focusing on environmental studies and sustainability; sustainable parks, recreation and tourism; and agriculture, food and natural resource education. “As part of its evolution and increased More»

 

Are there health impacts from living near animal feeding operations?
MSU Extension
4-3-2013

Animal agriculture has become concentrated in many parts of the country with multiple operations in an area; each feeding large numbers of livestock. With this consolidation has come concern over human health impacts of exposures to odors and gases associated with livestock production, including manure storage and land application of manure to croplands. A number of studies have considered the impact on human health of living near animal feeding operations. In the 1990s, Susan Schiffman, then a professor at Duke University, conducted studies that showed people who lived near large swine farms in North Carolina self-reported increased incidence of headaches, depression, nausea and vomiting as a result of exposure to odors from swine operations. More recently, a study was conducted by Stacy Sneeringer at Wellesley College that showed that infant mortality increased in communities as livestock inventories increased, based on data available from public health sources and agricultural statistics. More»

 

Anti-fracking group gears up for new ballot initiative
Great Lakes Echo/Capital News Service
3-28-2013

Warren Wood, a hydrogeologist and geoscience professor at Michigan State University, said there’s “no question” fracking causes earthquakes, but on such a small scale that they cannot be felt in Michigan. More»

 

Measuring Great Lakes water quality today and a century ago
Great Lakes Echo/Current State, WKAR
3-27-2013

It’s been a century since the International Joint Commission conducted a Great Lakes wide bacteriological study. Scientists are now looking to recreate the 1913 study. The 100 years study will assess how water quality in the Basin has changed over time. Lead researcher, Dr. Joan Rose, is the Nowlin Endowed Chair of Water Research, Co-Director of the Center for Water Sciences, and Co-Director of the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment at Michigan State University. Dr. Rose discusses re-evaluating the Great Lakes. More»

 

Two years after disaster, problems remain in Japan
MSU Today
3-8-2013

The earthquake and tsunami that claimed some 20,000 lives and caused a nuclear power plant crisis at Fukushima two years ago may seem like distant memories to many in the United States. But for the people of northeastern Japan struggling to rebuild and recover, the March 11, 2011, triple disasters are ongoing concerns, said Ethan Segal, Michigan State University associate professor of history and an expert on East Asia. Some Japanese residents are still living in temporary housing, unsure if it is safe and unable to borrow the needed capital to rebuild, Segal said. Imperfect decontamination measures make it unclear if communities around Fukushima will ever be able to return, while a lack of consumer confidence in products from the northeast means that businesses struggle and unemployment remains high, he added. "There are hopeful signs of recovery," Segal said, "but many problems remain unresolved." Segal will be part of a panel that will commemorate the two-year anniversary of the Japan disasters on March 18 at MSU. Read more here. Segal can be reached at (517) 884-4926 and segale@msu.edu. More»

 

Environmentalists Angry with Michigan State for Dumping Coal Ash
WILX-TV
2-7-2013

Under the feet of Spartan students is something they may not expect- coal ash from the 1960s. Before research and regulations on the material went public, the university dumped ash from the T.B. Power Plant at a few sites around campus. "It was coal ash produced historically and then used as construction fill, so in order to build up the land they disposed of this construction fill," explained Susan Harley, the Michigan Policy Director for the Clean Water Fund. In 2007, one of these coal ash sites was unearthed when MSU began construction on an overpass. The university moved some of this coal ash to Granger Landfill and some to MSU's police firearms training facility on Jolly Road. More»

 

Activists call on MSU to 'retire' coal plant, properly dispose of toxic ash
Lansing State Journal
2-6-2013

Student activists and others today called on Michigan State University to retire its coal plant and properly dispose of toxic coal ash that was buried on campus. The coal ash was first discovered in 2007 during an excavation of what is now called Recycling Drive, according to a news release from the group Clean Energy Now. Although some of the coal ash was properly disposed of in a landfill, more than 92,000 cubic yards was relocated to the university police training facility on Jolly Road, the news release said. More»

 

MSU partners with Saudi agency to improve food safety
University Relations
10-16-2012

A network of food safety researchers and educators led by Michigan State University will soon be working with the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, a new Saudi Arabian government authority responsible for regulating the safety of food, feed and pesticides in addition to drugs and medical devices. More»

 

Diving deep to understand health, environmental risk communications
AgBioResearch
3-6-2012

Great white shark.  Photo by Meredith Gore.One of Maria Lapinski's (Communication Arts and Sciences) latest projects is trying to understand how risks are promoted on shark diving websites and what kinds of people are most likely to be motivated to take the risk of diving with sharks. "We wanted to understand how risks are being promoted with shark diving because that helps us understand why people actually take risks and how you design messages for high sensation seekers," said Lapinski. She and colleague Meredith Gore (Fisheries and Wildlife & Criminal Justice) and a team of student researchers did content analysis of shark diving websites to look at the extent to which the sites explicitly explained the risks of sharks to humans and the ways in which emotion was addressed on the sites.

More»

“Under Pressure”: Keeping Michigan's natural gas pipelines safe
WILX-TV
5-13-2011

"These pipelines, some of them are carrying anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 psi which is an enormous amount of pressure," said Milind Khire (Civil and Environmental Engineering). More»

ESPP Student Profile: Bob Drost
ESPP
2-22-2011

After encouraging his son to become a Geological Sciences major at MSU, Bob Drost (Geological Sciences) has paved his own way in the department. While his son has since graduated and now works with as a geologist with an environmental organization, Drost has become a Ph.D. student in Julie Libarkin’s Geocognition Lab. More»

Taking a risk: shark diving and conservation
GreenBoard, ESPP
1-28-2011

shark, image courtesy of Bret MuterAmong the thrill-inducing activities available to travelers, shark diving has become an increasingly popular choice. Excursions entice tourists with the promise of seeing up close some of the most feared animals in the ocean. Why is meeting sharks face-to-face so appealing? And, how are these excursions impacting human-shark interactions? An MSU team studying these questions includes Meredith Gore (Fisheries and Wildlife and Criminal Justice), Maria Lapinski (Communication), and Bret Muter (Fisheries and Wildlife). More»

Big city life may make residents lean toward green, study says
University Relations
1-19-2011

The downsides of China’s explosive urbanization – like pollution and greenhouse gas emissions -- now are joined by an upside: Better environmental citizens. It's the first time scientists have weighed employment and leadership when considering environmental behavior in China's cities. Researchers including Chuntian Liu (Sociology) and Fisheries and Wildlife affiliates Xiaodong Chen, Vanessa Hull, and Jianguo “Jack” Liu show that city size -- and the good jobs there -- lead people to pro-environmental behavior, like recycling plastic bags and sorting their trash. The research was published in the Jan. 16 edition of Environmental Conservation.
Discovery News had the story. More»

Congress poised to pass ambitious food safety bill
Los Angeles Times
12-21-2010

Pike Place Market, image courtesy of WikimediaIn a world where we get garlic from China, shellfish from Thailand and sugar cane from Mexico, Congress is poised to approve an ambitious food safety bill that would strengthen the nation's top regulator and impose new rules on domestic production and trading partners. "They will be able to get better knowledge of who's producing clean food and who's producing suspect food," said Craig Harris (Sociology). More»

Moral Ground
Wisconsin Public Radio
10-14-2010

Michael P. Nelson (Fisheries and Wildlife, Lyman Briggs, and Philosophy) talks about a moral vision for environmental repair and sustainability of the Earth. More»

MSU partnership to develop African ecosystem services
University Relations
9-15-2010

Malawi scene MSU has partnered with Pennsylvania's Lincoln University and the University of Malawi to tackle the environmental challenges Africa faces due to population growth and climate change. "We are focused on enhancing and empowering institutions of higher education in Malawi so that their contributions are more effective in supporting development in Africa," said Anne Ferguson (Anthropology). The initiative is funded by the United States Agency for International Development and Higher Education for Development. More»

Scholar heads into heart of the Amazon
University Relations
7-1-2010

Map of BrazilRobert Walker (Geography) is helping lead the first research expedition along the western Transamazon Highway – a 700-mile stretch of dirt road in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon.
The trip is part of Walker’s ongoing research, funded by the National Science Foundation, into the impact of deforestation on the Amazon. Walker will document logging activity as it impacts the forest and interview workers in the logging industry and longtime residents about the effects of development.
The Associated Press had the story. More»

Community-based research improves fish consumption safety
University Outreach and Engagement
7-1-2010

Geoffrey Habron (Sociology and Fisheries and Wildlife) believes it is important not only to develop solutions to community problems and issues but also to involve community members throughout the research process. A recent project, “Improving Fish Advisories in Michigan's Upper Peninsula," integrated community-based research and outreach to improve the effectiveness of fish consumption advisories in four counties in the U.P. Habron’s collaborators on the project included Ronald Kinnunen (MSU Sea Grant) and John Hesse (Fisheries and Wildlife). More»

Ethical issues ignored in sustainability education, research
University Relations
7-1-2010

Just about everyone agrees that sustainability is a good thing. But why do we think that? Do we support sustainability for the right reasons? These are among the questions that Michael Nelson (Fisheries and Wildlife, Lyman Briggs, Philosophy) addresses in a paper published this month in the journal Bioscience.
U.S. News and World Report had the story.

More»

Climate change speakers discuss agriculture, adaptation, business
Greening of the Great Lakes/ WJR
5-1-2010

In an interview with Kirk Heinze, NASA scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig discusses projecting and preventing climate change. Heinze also interviewed Bjorn Stigson, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Both were at MSU as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series on Bioeconomy and Global Climate Change.

 

Get to know geocognition research
Greenboard (ESPP blog)
4-29-2010

Dr. Julie Libarkin (Geological Sciences; Division of Science and Mathematics Education) explains the emerging field, how MSU facilitates research and what exciting new research is happening on campus. More»

A renewable debate
State News
4-9-2010

... Fred Poston (MSU Finance and Operations) says clean-energy technology is not advanced or efficient enough to justify making a multimillion-dollar switch from coal, arguing it is too risky for the university. ... Robert Richardson (Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies), said MSU needs to evaluate the opportunity cost of not switching to renewable energy. More»

Philippines journal, part 1
Greenboard (ESPP blog)
2-24-2010

Laura Schmitt Olabisi (ESPP and Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies) is traveling in the Philippines, where she has worked in the past and plans to work in the future. This is the first of her field reports. More»

Toward a More Virtuous Sustainability
The Ecologist
12-31-2009

Ethics of Sustainability“Society is a ship whose engine is technology and rudder is ethics,” Michael Nelson (Lyman Briggs, Fisheries and Wildlife, Philosophy) and John Vucetich (Michigan Technological University) write in The Ecologist. They argue that critical questions remain unaddressed when sustainability is equated with “greener” products. More»

Sustainability as Disputed Territory: Thompson Talk Maps the Boundaries
Greenboard (ESPP blog)
12-8-2009

Conflicting ideas of sustainability were the focus of a talk by Paul Thompson, Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at MSU, in late November. Thompson’s talk kicked off a series of discussions of sustainability hosted by the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies (CARRS). More»

Student's paper for ESP course becomes published article
ESPP
12-1-2009

A paper that David Bidwell wrote to fulfill a class requirement is now earning him some extra credit of sorts – it appears in the latest issue of the journal Society and Natural Resources. The article, "Bison, Boundaries, and Brucellosis: Risk Perception and Political Ecology at Yellowstone," applies theories he learned in ESP 802 to the controversial slaughtering of bison on the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park to prevent them from infecting livestock with the disease brucellosis. Bidwell, a doctoral student in sociology with a specialization in environmental science and policy, said the issue resonated with his experience as an educator at a zoo and as a dispute resolution consultant. "I was intrigued by some of the political ecology articles we read in the class, because the field tries to explain the underlying roots of environmental problems and how local ecological conditions are influenced by the larger economic and political landscape," Bidwell said. "Once I began researching the bison issues at Yellowstone, it all snapped into place." More»

SMEP video spotlights 'wicked problem' of sustainability
Sustainable Michigan Endowed Project
12-1-2009

Sustainable Michigan Endowed ProjectA new video from the Sustainable Michigan Endowed Project offers insights on the meaning of sustainability and an overview of the project's mission. The 10-minute video uses interviews with numerous ESPP affiliates, animation and special effects to show that sustainability is a 'wicked problem' for which there is no single solution, but also a critical issue that must be addressed. For more on SMEP click here. More»

Simple measures can yield big greenhouse gas cuts, Dietz says
University Relations
10-26-2009

Photo: Behavioral Wedge Web siteNew technologies and policies that save energy, remove atmospheric carbon and limit greenhouse gas emissions are needed to fight global climate change – but face daunting technological, economic and political hurdles. The good news: Basic actions taken by everyday people can yield fast savings at low cost, according to MSU Professor Tom Dietz and colleagues, writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. See also: The Behavioral Wedge Web site. More»

NEPAD-MSU land $10.4 million to improve African agriculture
University Relations
10-15-2009

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development and MSU will use a five-year, $10.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to connect African biosafety regulators with advances in technology – an initiative aimed at reducing poverty through improved agricultural practices. MSU and NEPAD – a program of the African Union – will use grant money to convene workshops and provide regulators with the most current science-based information to regulate biotechnology while protecting farmers, consumers and the environment. Karim Maredia of MSU’s Institute of International Agriculture heads the university’s involvement in the project. More»

MSU prof says Nobel winner helped others succeed
Lansing State Journal
10-13-2009

Elinor Ostrom became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in economics Monday. ... Tom Dietz, professor of sociology and environmental science at Michigan State University who collaborated with Ostrom on the 2002 book "The Drama of the Commons" and on a subsequent paper in the journal Science, says the honor was richly deserved. "Not only is her own scholarship of exceptional quality, but she's also spent a lot of energy creating the whole field," he says, "pulling people in, encouraging them in their own research and their own careers." More»

Faculty propose reconciliation of hunting with animal welfare ethics
University Relations
9-16-2009

Can hunting and animal welfare ethics coexist? Michael Nelson (Lyman Briggs College, Fisheries and Wildlife, Philosophy) and Kelly Millenbah (Fisheries and Wildlife) take a shot at reconciling those often contentious points of view, as hunters around the country start thinking about heading back into the brush. They discuss how advocates for each side arrive at loggerheads, and propose a potential avenue to facilitate a more successful discussion, in an article published in the fall edition of The Wildlife Professional. More»

Project aids environmental decisions in the face of complicated trade-offs
University Relations
9-15-2009

Research team, from left: Leon, Kellon, Richardson Energy shortages, climate change, pollution - some of the world's most pressing problems weigh on the shoulders of some of the world's most hard-pressed people. Michigan State University researchers aim to help them sort out such complex problems. Doctoral student Delanie Kellon is doing field research in Costa Rica and collaborating with Joe Arvai, Robert Richardson and John Kerr, all colleagues from the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource studies. "The hope is whatever choices people end up making are a truer reflection of what really matters to them, as opposed to giving them information and hoping they consider everything," Arvai said, "and taking a leap of faith that researchers and policymakers really have a handle on what people care about." To read Arvai's posts from Costa Rica on ESPP's blog, click here. More»

Briggs students urge strong leadership on sustainability
Lyman Briggs College
8-24-2009

Lyman Briggs College senior seminar students have produced a “Letter on Sustainability,” working with Michael Nelson (Lyman Briggs College, Fisheries and Wildlife, and Philosophy). The letter calls for leadership and collaboration in addressing sustainability. The students originally addressed the letter to the Columbia River Quorum, a gathering of interdisciplinary scholars, communicators, and writers which “seeks to bring science and moral imagination together to communicate about climate destabilization.” The letter was originally delivered during the opening comments of the gathering. More»

Green ideas
Inside Higher Ed
7-31-2009

Making people aware of the importance of sustainability is often half the battle. That's why Michigan State University decided to implement an environmental stewardship program among its faculty and staff as part of its Be Spartan Green initiative. "We wanted to look first at what we could do with faculty and staff because they tend to make more decisions that create waste," says Lauren Olson, project coordinator in MSU's department of sustainability and the initiator of the steward program. More»

The wisdom of crowds
Nature.com
7-30-2009

Given that changing behavior likely will be pivotal in any response to climate change, Nature magazine delves into the factors inhibiting contributions from the social sciences, quoting Tom Dietz, MSU's assistant vice president for environmental research.

See also the report from an NSF workshop on the topic.
More»

Coastal communities gain help in planning for wind power
Great Lakes IT Report
7-13-2009

Soji Adelaja (Land Policy Institute) has received grant funding to work with coastal communities to assess the consequences of wind energy development and evaluate policy options, in advance of development proposals. Adelaja received $140,000 from Michigan Sea Grant. More»

Scientists, public differ in outlooks
USA Today
7-10-2009

In a Pew Research Center survey, 84 percent of non-scientists say science has a "mostly positive effect on our society," and 76 percent of scientists say these are "good times" for researchers. However, nearly half the scientists surveyed, 47 percent, say their colleagues are pursuing "projects that yield marketable products but do not advance science very much." ... "The major value of this survey is that it rebuts the frequent allegations that Americans are 'turning against' science," says political scientist Jon Miller of Michigan State University. More»

Peer pressure plays major role in environmental behavior
National Science Foundation, ScienceDaily
6-30-2009

People are more likely to enroll in conservation programs if their neighbors do - a tendency that should be exploited when it comes to protecting the environment, according to results of a new study. The research, to be published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, is the first to focus on the phenomenon of social norms in the context of China's conservation efforts, says Jianguo (Jack) Liu (Fisheries and Wildlife).
Additional news coverage: UPI
More»

NRC Study Says Decision Makers Need Climate Information
ESPP
4-10-2009

A new National Research Council report with input from MSU says government agencies base decisions – for example, how to build bridges, manage water supplies or implement zoning rules – on outdated information that fails to consider climate change.

Joe Arvai (ESPP associate director and CARRS) was part of the committee that wrote the report “Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate,” which recommends that the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and other federal agencies put more effort into producing relevant climate information and delivering it effectively to decision makers.

The NRC is the policy-advising arm of the National Academies. More»

 

Abandon Hope, Nelson Argues
ESPP
3-6-2009

Michael Nelson (Lyman Briggs College; Fisheries and Wildlife; and Philosophy) has an essay in the March issue of The Ecologist in which he argues that giving people hope for the health of our planet might keep them from taking real action to build a sustainable future. Nelson and co-author John Vucetich of Michigan Tech say that hope as a motivator is based on speculation about the future, and that we instead ought to be concerned with how to act virtuously now, regardless of what might lie ahead. “If we’re left with despair or hope, neither of which actually seem to be a motivator to do anything, we need another motivator,” Nelson said. “So we started thinking that this is really about doing the right thing, quite apart from whether it’s hopeful or not. This is about the decision to be a certain kind of person.” To watch a video interview with Nelson about the essay, click here. More»

MSU Researchers Study Globalization with NSF Grant
ESPP
10-23-2008

MSU researchers have received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation's program in Coupled Natural and Human Systems to study the effects of globalization on remote communities.

The researchers will conduct a five-year study of "globalization from the perspective of households," said principal investigator Dan Kramer, an assistant professor jointly appointed by Fisheries and Wildlife and James Madison College.

Also working on the project are Andrea Allen, Anthropology; Aaron McCright, Lyman Briggs College and Sociology; Jiaguo Qi, Geography; and Gerald Urquhart, Lyman Briggs College. More»

Dr. Bill Derman on Afripod
Africa Podcast
10-1-2008

Bill Derman, Professor of Anthropology at MSU, discussed his recent volume "Conflicts Over Land and Water in Africa" on the Africa Past and Present podcast. He described the role of government policies, local farmers, and chiefs in land reform in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Derman also reflected the sensitive position of researchers working in the changing political context of southern Africa. More»

 

"The Wilderness Debate Rages On": Michael Nelson Edits Follow-up Volume
ESPP
9-10-2008

Michael Nelson (Fisheries and Wildlife, Lyman Briggs) is co-editor of The Wilderness Debate Rages On, a collection of essays, fiction and standard academic papers that exhibit the wide range of ideas about what wilderness is and how it ought to be used. The book is a follow-up to The Great New Wilderness Debate, also co-edited by Nelson, which was released a decade ago. Nelson said he hopes the book can bring civility to a fierce and occasionally violent debate. More»

Tom Dietz Chairs National Research Council's Panel's Report on Public Participation in Environmental Decisionmaking
ESPP
8-22-2008

When done correctly, public participation improves the quality of federal agencies' decisions about the environment, says a new report from the National Research Council, entitled "Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decisionmaking." Tom Dietz (Environmental Science and Policy Program) chaired the panel that issued the report. The NAS report is available here. More»

Paul Thompson Discusses Ethics of Emerging Technologies
New York Times
8-12-2008

Paul Thompson (Philosophy and Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies) discussed the ethics of emerging technologies in the New York Times. An excerpt: "Last year, a private company proposed fertilizing parts of the ocean with iron, in hopes of encouraging carbon-absorbing blooms of plankton. Meanwhile, researchers elsewhere are talking about injecting chemicals into the atmosphere, launching sun-reflecting mirrors into stationary orbit above the earth or taking other steps to reset the thermostat of a warming planet. ... Paul Thompson, a philosopher at Michigan State and former secretary of the International Society for Environmental Ethics, says many scientists were trained to limit themselves to questions answerable in the real world, in the belief that "scientists and engineers should not be involved in these kinds of ethical questions." More»

 

Rachael Shwom Blogs on Climate Change & Values
Great Lakes Town Hall
7-28-2008

Ph.D. candidate Rachael Shwom (Sociology and ESPP) was guest commentator on the Great Lakes Town Hall during the week of July 28. Shwom wrote about connections between the Great Lakes, global warming, and the public's perspective. The Great Lakes Town Hall is sponsored by the Biodiversity Project, in Chicago. More»

 

Did Seth go to the dark side?
INC Magazine
5-1-2008

For 10 years, since he founded Honest Tea, in 1998, Seth Goldman has been among the heroes of the natural foods movement. Even as his company took off, Goldman held true to his socially responsible ways. Honest Tea still buys its ingredients at fair-trade prices from small organic farms around the globe. But that was before his deal in February to sell 40 percent of his company to Coca-Cola. ... If Coca-Cola does acquire the rest of Honest Tea, it will be able to do whatever it wants with the brand. For starters, it could put pressure on the company to cut costs. In a worst-case scenario, says Phil Howard, professor at Michigan State University and an expert on the organic foods industry, such cost reductions could include substituting cheaper ingredients, such as high-fructose corn syrup, or boosting the number of ingredients that don't meet organic standards. More»

 

The Risk Initiative: Making Risk and Decision-making a Focus at MSU
Green Ink (ESPP's newsletter)
5-1-2008

Risk management and decision-making is a field dedicated to understanding the nature of risk and the means of handling it best. MSU's Risk Initiative has been established to promote risk research and education across campus. More»

Caged or Free? UC Davis Researcher to Study Egg-laying Chickens
Sacramento Bee
2-14-2008

Animal welfare and poultry experts - including representatives from the University of California, Davis, and Michigan State University - will be working together to look at the most humane and commercially viable way to raise egg-laying chickens. The research team, which recently received $400,000 from the American Egg Board to fund the initial stage of the research, is being led by animal welfare scientist Joy Mench of UC Davis and experts Janice Swanson, animal welfare researcher, and Paul Thompson, philosophy professor, from MSU. More»

 

Animal Rights Groups Pick Up Momentum
USA Today
1-27-2008

The growing influence of animal rights activists increasingly is affecting daily life, touching everything from the foods Americans eat to what they study in law school, where they buy their puppies and even whether they should enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride in New York's Central Park. ... "There's been an explosion of interest" in animal welfare issues, says David Favre, Michigan State University law professor and animal law specialist. "Groups like the Humane Society of the United States and PETA have brought to our social awareness their concerns about animals and all matter of creatures." More»

 

Law Enforcement and Science Join Forces at MSU’s Environmental Crime Conference
Green Ink (ESPP's newsletter)
12-1-2007

Criminologists and law enforcement officials came from all over the United States to share ideas with wildlife and environmental science professionals at MSU’s conference on Environmental Crime and Natural Resources Sustainability in September.ESPP-affiliated faculty participating in the conference included Kelly Millenbah (Fisheries and Wildlife), Edmund McGarrell (Criminal Justice), and David Skole (Forestry). More»

Charting Greed for All Things Green
Science
7-2-2007

Humans are leaving a heavy mark on Earth, but it's not just climate change. A new study shows that in addition to over-fishing and other resource extraction, humans are also hogging nearly a quarter of the planet's yearly production of plant life. The analysis showed that in 2000, humans used up to 23.8 percent of that year's biomass production. Nathan Moore, an earth scientist at Michigan State University, says that the team's analysis is "sound" and its results are "quite alarming." More»

 

ESPP Students Win Honorable Mention in AAAS Student Poster Competition
ESPP
4-4-2007

Congratulations to ESPP doctoral students David Bidwell and his co-author Rachael Shwom who recently received an honorable mention in the 2007 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Student Poster Competition. Their poster, entitled "Deliberation Lite: How Does Feedback Influence Public Climate Change Policy Support?" was presented at the AAAS Annual Meeting held in February. More»

Professor Joseph Arvai Recipient of Chauncey Starr Award
ESPP
12-15-2006

Congratulations to Dr. Joe Arvai, winner of the Society for Risk Analysis' 2006 Chauncey Starr Award! Named for one of the founders of the application of risk analysis to environmental and technology policy, the award is given each year to recognize an outstanding young risk analyst. More»

Tornado warnings are too often ignored
University Relations
11-30-1999

tornado image, courtesy of NOAAAs big storms rip across the Midwest, Bob Drost (Geological Sciences) is hoping people are paying attention to the severe weather and tornado warnings. Unfortunately, Drost, a doctoral student, knows that many times those warnings are ignored, according to his research. “There’s a phenomenon associated with how people react and act to severe storm and tornado warnings,” said Drost. “Much of it is based on people’s prior experience with severe weather. It’s comparable to biting into an apple with a worm in it. Eating part of a worm will affect how you decide about eating apples for the rest of your life.”
Michigan Radio had the story.

More»

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