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GLOBAL CLIMATE SUMMIT: UC Davis researchers present an afternoon of appetizers

By Dave Jones on November 15, 2010 in University

Research appetizers
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Delegates who arrived early for Gov. Schwarzenegger's Governors' Global Climate Summit 3 got a taste on Sunday (Nov. 14) of UC Davis' research prowess and forward thinking.

A bus full of summit participants came to the campus from Sacramento, where they are staying, to attend "Regional Solutions Research Appetizers" — a sampling of presentations and posters on the myriad projects that are driving UC Davis' “Sustainable 2nd Century.”

The afternoon appetizers started with an overview of the university's research in three broad areas: environment and agriculture, transportation and energy, and economic development and the green economy.

The summit itself runs today and Tuesday (Nov. 15 and 16) in and around the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. The official opening is set for 10:30 a.m., with welcome remarks by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. Click here for the webcast.

Representatives of the governor said they expected summit attendance would top 1,500, with participants coming from more than 80 states, provinces and countries.

Formally, it is the Governors' Global Climate Summit 3, “governors” with an apostrophe after the “s” because four other U.S. governors are co-hosts. The governors, Schwarzenegger included, and other subnational leaders are gathering here to talk climate solutions — and to encourage national governments to act, too. At summit’s end, the subnational leaders are expected to sign the charter for a new public-private alliance “that will implement concrete actions to solve climate change and build the global green economy.”

The alliance is called R20: Regions of Climate Action — with "R20" referring to the 20 regional leaders who founded the alliance at the conclusion of last year’s Governors’ Global Climate Summit 2, which, like the first summit, took place in Los Angeles.

Governor turns to UC Davis

For the third summit, Schwarzenegger turned to UC Davis, because of the kind of research described by eight speakers Sunday in Gallagher Hall:

Hargadon, of the Graduate School of Management, told about his efforts to assist the green economy via the annual Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy.

He said innovation is not about invention, but about making the connections to get products to market — and his PowerPoint presentation included a slide filled with the names of new companies that have come out of the academy.

If those companies are hiring, Justin Johnson is interested — on behalf of the state of Vermont, where he heads the Department of Environmental Conservation. He attended last year’s climate summit and came back for this one — which is focused on “Building the Green Economy.”

“I want to get a better understanding of how we can take advantage of those opportunities,” Johnson said. “How do we develop jobs that pay reasonably well and feed these new needs?”

Posters and pasta

Sunday’s presummit event continued in Gallagher Hall with a display of more than three dozen posters from faculty and students, showing their work in photos, graphics and words.

Johan Six, an associate professor of plant sciences, and one of his graduate students, Taryn Kennedy, prepared a poster titled “California Tomato Cropping.”

“If you like pasta with red sauce, then this will be of interest,” Kennedy said during the poster exhibition.

The research offers a way to boost crop yield while at the same time helping the environment — by cutting the emission of nitrous oxide from tomato fields.

The solution lies in soil preparation, drip irrigation and fertilizer application. “We can manage systems differently and have an effect on greenhouse gases,” Kennedy said.

Another poster hit home with a photo of a household energy meter displaying the figure “25 cents,” telling the homeowner that at that moment in time, he or she was paying 25 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity.

A pair of assistant professors, Katrina Jessoe of agricultural and resource economics, and Dave Rapson of economics, presented this poster, titled “Home Energy Conservation,” to show their research into the economics of energy consumption.

More specifically, they are studying home area networks — which rely on the transfer of information back and forth between utilities and users, via “smart” meters.

Cost-conscious customers, Jessoe and Rapson explained, may look at that 25-cent display and decide to delay starting the dishwasher or the clothes drier, until the price comes down during off-peak hours.

The posters fell into three categories: energy, environmental sciences and stewardship, and sustainable food and agriculture.

Some of the other poster titles:

Energy — “Ground Source Heat Pumps,” “Harvesting Daylight,” “Managing Wind Energy” and “Power from Plastics.”

Environmental sciences and stewardship — “High Elevation Climate Change,” “Wastewater + Algae = Energy,” “Shaping Sustainability Careers” and “Salmon and Climate Change.”

Sustainable food and agriculture — “CO2 Threatens Food Quality,” “Runoff and Climate Change,” “Ozone and Soil Fertility” and “Climate, Cash and Cows.”

Hope for the future

After the posters came a tour of UC Davis research in action, starting with the biodigester, where Professor Ruihong Zhang is turning food waste into energy.

The Olive Center presented an olive oil tasting session, showcasing a research program that grew out of a desire to put the campus’s plethora of olives to good use (olive oil) instead of seeing them become squishy, slippery stuff on the sidewalk.

The tour also took in the university’s new August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory, and the Teaching and Research Winery — built to meet the highest standards of sustainability, worthy of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Platinum certification (with LEED standing for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

Instructor Beth Abels from Pierce College (Los Angeles County) snapped photos with her iPhone — and not just because she teaches architecture.

Yes, she said, she hopes to see LEED Platinum development on her own campus.

But Pierce is a community college, where work force development is a priority — and Abels said the summit offers an opportunity to learn what kind of training the college should be providing for the green economy.

Abels also offered a broader view of the summit’s possibilities, after having attended last year’s event in Los Angeles.

“It’s the only place you can go where you can feel some optimism,” she said.

More tours were scheduled this morning, in advance of the summit’s opening.

More information

Governors’ Global Climate Summit 3: Building the Green Economy

Live webcast, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. today (Nov. 15)

Earlier coverage: “UC Davis hosts Governors' Global Climate Summit 3” (Nov. 5, 2010)

Earlier coverage: “World leaders to gather at Governors’ Global Climate Summit 3 at UC Davis” (Nov. 3, 2010)


Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,