Water is essential to a healthy life and a healthy business. So as the world’s water resources are becoming more scarce, the private sector is paying attention.
Raj Rajan, global sustainability technical leader and research, development and engineering vice president at Ecolab, Inc., discussed how commercial enterprises must shift the way they think about water in their business models in last week’s Frontiers in the Environment lecture. His talk, “Water Stewardship and the Private Sector” took place Wednesday, Feb. 26 on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.
(2/27) Eleven teams of student social and environmental entrepreneurs have been selected winners of the 2014 Acara Challenge, a competition co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and the College of Science and Engineering. Read more
Outdoor air pollution from factories and automobiles seems to dominate the news. But there’s another, just as sinister, form of pollution and it’s coming from inside the house.
Ellison Carter, a postdoctoral fellow in energy, air pollution and health at the Institute on the Environment, discussed her research on environmental and health impacts of indoor air pollution at Frontiers in the Environment in February.
In her presentation, “Where There’s Smoke…Evaluating the Benefits of Household Energy Improvements in Developing Countries,” Carter explained why indoor air pollution in developing nations is a particularly challenging problem.
Imagine encountering a dozen people in the woods improvising on the spot as they’re inspired by what they hear from the forest, or from the savanna, as the wind combs through tall native grasses and whispers inspiration. Sounds and Visions of Cedar Creek is just such an experience–a unique collaboration, one in which the very earth we walk on is recognized and celebrated as an instrument, and where the research of scientists percolates in the minds of artists and comes out as a new understanding.
That’s how University Relations writer Adam Overland describes the unique performance piece “Sounds and Visions of Cedar Creek,” to be held Feb. 27, 5:30 p.m. in the atrium of the Learning and Environmental Sciences Building in St. Paul. The event is free and open to the public. Read more at U of M homepage.
“Sounds and Visions of Cedar Creek” was supported by an IonE Mini Grant. Proposals for Spring 2014 Mini Grants are being accepted through March 16.
When you think of the economy, chances are the “green” that comes to mind is money, not nature. But what if there wwere truly a green economy – one that accounts for the value of the environment in economic decision-making?
That was the topic of last week’s Frontiers in the Environment lecture presented by Steve Polasky, an IonE resident fellow and Regents professor of applied economics. Polasky delivered his speech, “What IS the Green Economy? And How Do We Get One?” Feb. 12 at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. While economics and the environment do not always seem to go hand in hand, it was his love for nature that pushed Polasky to pursue economics.
Pollution and contamination aren’t always as obvious as a burning river or a massive algal bloom. In fact, pathogen and heavy metal contamination can be difficult to detect – even with today’s most modern technology.
Jian-Ping Wang, an IonE resident fellow and distinguished McKnight University professor, is working to change that. Wang discussed his research using spintronic and nano magnetic technologies at his Frontiers in the Environment lecture, “Intelligent Nanotechnology for Environmental Monitoring,” Feb. 5.
Attention all graduate, professional and undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota! Have you worked on a project, report, or research related to sustainability? Share your work at the 2014 Sustainability Symposium on April 11 for a chance to win a Kindle Fire! Abstracts are being accepted until March 14, 2014.
This year’s theme, “Tell us Your Sustainability Story,” encourages you to communicate your story in terms relatable to the broader University community. At the Sustainability Symposium, you will have the chance to develop your communication skills by showing and articulating the importance of your work to a broad audience.
YouTube is usually a one-stop shop for movie trailers, music and cat videos. But one family is using the popular website to educate viewers on earth and climate science, one video at a time.
Last March, brothers Henry and Alex Reich, along with their father, IonE resident fellow Peter Reich, created the YouTube channel MinuteEarth, featuring one- to three-minute animated videos focusing on topics ranging from fisheries management to atmospheric science. The three shared their experience at the Institute on the Environment’s first Frontiers in the Environment presentation of the semester - “Science Communication: Teach, Entertain or Inspire?” – Wednesday, Jan. 29 at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.
Imagine a conference experience that is about more than business card collections, fancy dinners and academic posturing. Imagine a conference experience that extends beyond the closing ceremonies to truly impact your activism.
That is exactly what we had in mind when we dreamed up the Interstate Sustainability Leaders Summit. ISLS would be a modern conference that develops relationships and provides tangible takeaways for grounded dreamers. Continue reading
Climate change and overconsumption of Earth’s resources have a huge impact on humans, but understanding how these issues affect wildlife populations and behavior is important as well.
That was the topic of the Institute on the Environment’s final Frontiers in the Environment talk of the semester Dec. 11 when James Forester, IonE resident fellow and assistant professor of fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology, discussed “Tracking Animals through Space and Time: Understanding the Consequences of a Changing World on Wildlife Populations.”
In an age when debates over fracking and renewable energy dominate the news, it’s increasingly clear that the United States is in the midst of an “energy renaissance.” Along with a host of environmental concerns, the nation’s changing energy system faces a new, often overlooked, challenge: How can we get energy from its source to the people who need it?
That was the topic of Institute on the Environment resident fellow and University of Minnesota Law School professor Alexandra Klass’ Frontiers in the Environment lecture Dec. 4.
In “Transporting Energy: U.S. Infrastructure Challenges,” Klass discussed her research on the physical and regulatory system in place for moving oil, natural gas and electricity and possible changes needed as the nation’s energy sources diversify.
(12/6) A student proposal to develop a renewable fuel–enabled free piston engine captured the $10,000 top prize in a Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA) competition held Thursday at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. Read more
Photo credit: Nancy Johnson, ME Department
For Scott St. George, Institute on the Environment resident fellow and University of Minnesota geography professor, teaching people about climate science is music to his ears, literally.
St. George, College of Liberal Arts undergraduate student Daniel Crawford and IonE director of communications Todd Reubold shared their experience of reaching new audiences by turning climate science data into music in last week’s Frontiers in the Environment lecture, “Resonate! How 90 Seconds of Cello Music is Helping People Connect with Climate Science.”
Many of us do our best to make healthy food choices, but replacing that burger and fries with fruits and vegetables isn’t just good for your body, it’s good for the environment.
Emily Cassidy, an Institute on the Environment graduate research assistant, discussed the impact of global diet preferences on agricultural productivity and greenhouse gas emissions in last week’s Frontiers in the Environment presentation, “Redefining Agricultural Productivity: From Stuff Produced to People Fed.”
Universities, religious institutions, and even local governments around the globe are weighing the pros and cons of divestment – a climate change mitigation strategy that focuses on phasing out endowment investments in fossil fuel companies.
Matthew Fitzmaurice, founder and managing partner of AWJ Capital Partners LLC, explained the opportunities and shortcomings of divestment in his Frontiers in the Environment presentation Nov. 6.
In “Divestment: A Call to Arms vs. Sustainable Investing: A Catalyst for Global Change,” Fitzmaurice argued that divestment, while a laudable goal, may not be realistic for institutions.
When it comes to our food system, it seems everyone has an opinion on how we can eat healthier, feed more people and reduce our environmental impacts. But how can you separate food fact from food fiction?
That was the topic of last week’s Frontiers in the Environment lecture presented by Chris Lambe, director of social responsibility for The Mosaic Company - a crop nutrient production company based in Plymouth, Minn.
In “The Importance of Food Literacy,” Lambe discussed why it is imperative that consumers, producers and policy-makers alike have a basic understanding of how the food system works and the challenges facing food production around the world.
In 2008, Kathryn Draeger and her husband left their home in St. Paul for a 320-acre farm in western Minnesota to experience life on the rural landscape.
Draeger, statewide director of the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and an adjunct professor of agronomy and plant genetics, discussed her experience in her Frontiers in the Environment lecture, “The Land Grant University and Rural Resilience: A Minnesota Story” Oct. 23.
Satellite data may provide the best evidence yet for anthropogenic global warming.
Compton Tucker, scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., delivered that thought in a bonus Frontiers in the Environment lecture last Thursday on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.
In his presentation, “Satellite Climate Records: Observations Not Beliefs,” Tucker used satellite data to address some of the most common arguments from climate change deniers.
What happens at the intersection of art and science? Come to IonE’s Commons: Meeting & Art Space to see for yourself!
In the commons’ new exhibit, “Tales of Environmental Turbulence: The Common Trail of Art and Science,” 17 artists explore challenging cultural and scientific concepts. Continue reading
Paul Porter is a professor at the University of Minnesota, but you won’t always find him in a classroom. He has done much of his teaching from his bicycle, on tours through Africa, South America and, most recently, Minnesota.
Porter, professor of agronomy and plant genetics, discussed his experiences incorporating adventure learning into his educational work in his Oct. 16 Frontiers in the Environment talk “Aggregating an Agroecosystem: Novel Approaches to Teaching and Learning.”