"Hope you’ve read up on the curse of the bristlecone,” Andy Bunn told me, with mock concern, over breakfast at a diner in Bishop, California. We were joined by Matt Salzer, a veteran researcher from the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. Bunn, who teaches environmental science at Western Washington University, in Bellingham, has been working with bristlecones since 2006. “People who get too close to these trees die young,” he explained. Edmund Schulman, the man who discovered Methuselah, died, of a stroke, at the age of forty-nine. Bunn went on, “Matt here has a slab of the Currey Tree”—another well-known specimen—“in his office. He handles it with abandon, as if it won’t kill him.”
In Puerto Rico, however, “what we’re looking at here are earthquakes of more or less common size: There’s still lots of small ones but quite a few fives and then up to the 6.4,” said Jackie Caplan-Auerbach, a seismologist at Western Washington University in Bellingham. “That is a little more like what we would call an earthquake swarm, where there isn’t a clear dominant one early in the sequence and then a tapering.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has long enjoyed the visible support of many in the Indian-American community. However, in the past, groups of Indian-Americans have also effectively mobilised to challenge the BJP’s Hindu nationalist vision for India. Today, as large sections of the Indian public rise up against the Modi government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens, and it responds with unprecedented ferocity, it is time for Indian-Americans to re-engage in a moral debate and express support for a vibrant, democratic, and multi-hued India.
While it’s hard to pick our favorite lectures from among so many, here are six that introduce surprising perspectives and offer context to some of this year’s top news events.
1. Jared Hardesty On How New England Was Built By The Slave Trade
Over the last 25 years, increased access to numerous historic collections from the slave trade has spurred a new era of scholarship on U.S. slavery, according to Jared Hardesty, associate professor of history at Western Washington University. In his book “Black Lives, Native Lands, White Worlds: A History Of Slavery In New England,” Hardesty explains how New England was built on earnings and supported by the the slave trade.
Once a week after school, a group of Burlington-Edison High School students get on a school bus and head north about a half an hour.
Their destination: Western Washington University.
On a recent week, the students’ destination was the university’s Science, Math and Technology Education building, where they shot air cannons, got up-close and personal with a tarantula and played a game of hide-and-go-seek with the help of a thermal imaging device.
The city’s climate task force explored a number of ambitious targets. In addition to banning natural gas in new construction, it discussed requiring conversions to electric heating when people purchased existing homes, said Dr. Charles Barnhart, a task force member and an assistant professor of environmental sciences at Bellingham’s Western Washington University, which has one of the nation’s oldest environmental colleges. The task force also explored requiring transitions on all structures as soon as 2030.
Western Washington University students, staff, environmental journalists and activists describe the Bellingham, Wash., school's role in the climate change movement in 2019.
As the temperature of the region increases because of climate change, the snowpack is reduced to higher and higher elevations causing changes in the creeks and rivers that flow from the mountains, according to Robert Mitchell, who is a professor at Western Washington University and makes models of the effects of climate change on mountain hydrology.
The classic study for ecosystem impacts from increasing climate variability is a 2002 paper published about the checkerspot butterfly, a subspecies that was wiped out in the San Francisco Bay area, partially because of habitat loss—which made them less resilient—but also because annual precipitation and temperatures became more volatile and caused a mistiming between the emergence of larvae and the plants they feed on. Caterpillars hatch in April, but will starve if they don’t grow large enough before the onset of the summer drought, when the seasonal plants they depend on—including dwarf plantain and Indian paintbrush—die. The longer they can feed on the plant, the better their chance of survival. The butterflies feed again in November when the rains resume.
“These butterfly populations were driven to extinction because of variability” in precipitation, said John McLaughlin, an ecologist at Western Washington University who worked on the study. “We should be paying a lot more attention to these kinds of things.”
Western Washington University will soon get a new engineering and computer science building thanks in part to a $10 million gift from two donors.
Fred Kaiser and Grace Borsari donated the money to “Building Washington’s Future,” a campaign to raise $20 million for the new building.
"We couldn't ask for a better gift this time of year," said University President Sabah Randhawa.