Throwing cold water on volcanic fear-mongering

August 14, 2015

Rarely does a month pass without some obscure Internet site promoting false rumors that the Yellowstone supervolcano is about to blow. For example, such scare-mongering sites have pointed to earthquake swarms as evidence of imminent disaster—even though quake swarms are common at Yellowstone. Geophysicist Bob Smith, a research and emeritus professor and a leading expert on Yellowstone, pegs the annual odds of a Yellowstone supervolcano eruption at 1-in-700,000. He’s glad to answer media questions about the slumbering supervolcano and lesser eruptions in Yellowstone’s history, especially to throw cold water on hype about the likelihood of a cataclysmic eruption. Smith has studied Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and their seismic and volcanic hazards for almost six decades. He keeps getting awards for his research, most recently the 2015 Paul G. Silver Award for Outstanding Scientific Service from the American Geophysical Union—the world’s largest Earth science organization.
Phone: 801-557-2239 | Email: robert.b.smith@utah.edu

Thinking of installing synthetic grass? Don’t do it.

July 27, 2015

Dry California is seeing a trend among homeowners who are installing artificial lawns to achieve the quintessential green lawn without using the limited water supply. While this might sound like a sustainable option, U city and metropolitan planning professor Sarah Hinners says it’s a bad idea. Natural grass has a cooling effect and filters water as it makes its way into the subsurface, while artificial turf gets hot and may even put pollutants into the groundwater. With more than three-quarters of Salt Lake City’s water use attributed to residential areas, single-family homes, collectively, are the largest water users. Therefore, it is important to find ways for homeowners to have beautiful landscapes that use less water. Hinners has been studying landscape designs that fulfill this need.
Phone: 801-585-1026 | Email: sarah.hinners@utah.edu

Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment

June 26, 2015

A draft copy of Pope Francis’ much-anticipated encyclical on the environment has been gaining much attention worldwide this week. The document calls for urgent action to protect the Earth and fight global warming, a trend the pope declares is a result of the burning of fossil fuels and human activity. The document outlines Francis’ viewpoint on the scientific and moral reasons for protecting the environment. It states low-income people in the world suffer the most from air pollution and toxic dumping. Law professor Lincoln Davies can offer a local perspective on this developing news story and is available for interview. He previously organized a summit on religion, faith and the environment. A recognized expert in energy law and policy, Davies’ research spans a broad array of energy topics, including renewables and alternative energy, carbon capture and sequestration, nuclear power, utility law and regulatory and technology innovation.
Phone: 801-581-7338 | Email: lincoln.davies@law.utah.edu