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Sustainability News

UREx SRN Alumni: Beating the heat in Phoenix neighborhoods

December 30, 2019

Melissa GuardaroSchool of Sustainability PhD graduate, Melissa Guardaro has made an impact on heat action planning in Phoenix, Arizona. As part of the Nature’s Cooling System Project, Guardaro strove to address social and geographical equity concerns related to heat mitigation and adaptation strategies in under-served areas. She partnered with local groups including the Nature Conservancy, community based organizations, city officials, and the public health department to develop heat action plans for three low-income communities: Edison-Eastlake Community, Mesa Care Neighborhood, and Lindo Park-Roesley Park Neighborhood.

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We can course correct and save the melting Arctic

Medium | December 18, 2019

Two polar bears walking across thin Arctic iceThe Arctic is experiencing climate change more dramatically than anywhere else on Earth. In fact, the Arctic Ocean is expected to be virtually ice-free in the late summer within 20 years. These rapid changes not only affect life in the Arctic, but also the entirety of the planet.

In the newest article from the Global Futures Laboratory, "Rapid Changes in the Arctic: This Story is Not Just about Polar Bears," thought leaders Peter Schlosser, Stephanie Pfirman, Clea Edwards, Nina Berman, Steven Beschloss, Rolf Halden and Manfred Laubichler discuss the changing Arctic and what needs to be done to course correct. "To be clear, this is not all doom and gloom. There is a path forward," they say.

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Second Nature recognizes ASU as a climate leader

ASU Now | December 10, 2019

Several ASU students and staff on bikes outside of Old Main at ASUSecond Nature, a nonprofit organization focused on accelerating climate action in higher education, has recognized Arizona State University for cutting its carbon emissions and awarded the university “Marks of Distinction" for its climate actions.

Between 2007 and 2018, ASU cut its net carbon emissions by 28%, reducing its net carbon emissions per 1,000 square feet of buildings by 49% and its net carbon emissions per on campus student by 45%. The university did this while experiencing an increase in on-campus population of 30.5% and expanding campus buildings by more than 40%.

“The reduction in carbon emissions was accomplished through energy efficiency, renewable energy and transportation changes," said Mick Dalrymple, director of ASU University Sustainability Practices. "Our progress has been made possible through collaborative action across the university and beyond. Teams have designed and constructed new buildings to be highly energy efficient, as well as extensively retrofitted existing buildings. Students have led the charge on cutting commuting emissions by taking up biking, walking and light rail, and moving onto campus in new residence halls or nearby.”

Dalrymple said ASU plans to be carbon neutral by 2025 in regards to campus buildings and the ASU vehicle fleet, and carbon neutral by 2035 in regards to commuting and air travel.

"We are continuously exploring opportunities for new types of clean energy, more efficient technology, new modes of working, more efficient use of space and the planting of more trees in concert with Phoenix and Tempe,” Dalrymple said.

Girls-only cybersecurity event attracts hundreds

November 20, 2019

2 Girls at computersASU’s CybersecurityDay4Girls attracted hundreds of middle school students to Arizona State University's West campus. The event was hosted in partnership with IBM to introduce young girls to the field of cybersecurity. Middle school girls are the focus of this program because women are typically underrepresented in cybersecurity roles.

CybersecurityDay4Girls covers topics to help middle school students and their families stay safe online in an ever more connected world. The program also introduces more advanced concepts like cryptography and blockchain. This exposure provides students with a better understanding of cybersecurity as a career and encourages them to consider pursuing it further.

“It’s important to make a specific reach to girls because they don’t see themselves in these roles yet,” said Jamie Winterton, director of strategy for ASU's Global Security Initiative. Winterton moderated a panel discussion between students and female cybersecurity professionals.

New ASU lab will address the social challenges of climate change

ASU Now | October 24, 2019

Power plant on the Navajo NationAs more locations across the country begin to transition to utilizing renewable energy sources, officials in such locations face a daunting task: How do they compensate the workers and communities that financially relied on those nonrenewable sources of energy?

While the question may be hypothetical, scenarios like that are not. One recently played out in Page, Arizona when the Navajo Generating Station closed down. The coal-fired power plant had operated for 40 years, serving as a financial support for the community of Hopi and Navajo tribes. Now that it’s closed, workers are at a loss as to how to meet their needs.

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The myth of infinite growth on a finite planet

The New Republic | October 7, 2019

Graph of exponential growthOnce upon a time, economists believed that there was a limit to economic growth.

Many economists held this belief, including founding fathers such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill. They based this conclusion on, among other things, the fact that there was a limited supply of land. And for hundreds of years, the theory of finite growth prevailed as economists acknowledged the interdependence of natural and economic systems.

That is, until recently.

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ASU researchers to address the question of how religion and science intersect

October 1, 2019

Translucent Anatomical 3d rendering of person facing away with multicolored lights emanating from their mindResearchers from Arizona State University have launched a new project to explore how we reconcile our search for spirituality in a secular age of technoscientific advancements.

Titled “Beyond Secularization: A New Approach to Religion, Science and Technology,” the interdisciplinary initiative has received a $1.7 million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust and has the potential to revolutionize how we understand the intersection of religion, science and technology in public life. It will establish a collaboratory that will include graduate students, postdocs and faculty who will develop and advance new research methods and understandings over the next several years.

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This Youth Movement is more than a moment

Medium | September 27, 2019

Youth of a community rallying for climate actionSince September 20, more than 6 million people have marched worldwide as part of the Global Climate Strikes, spurred on by a youth movement laser focused on making climate policy a priority. In the latest article from Global Futures Laboratory thought leaders, "Why the Youth Movement Matters," Peter Schlosser, Steven Beschloss and Nina Berman look at the wave of young people who are organizing and rallying around the notion that the climate crisis is not a future problem - it is a now problem.

You can read the response on Medium. To ensure you don’t miss any Global Futures Laboratory Medium posts, follow our Medium channel directly, or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn where we announce all new posts.

CYR3CON’s story: cybersecurity fueled by A.I.

September 12, 2019

person in a hoodie typing on a laptopFounded by Paulo Shakarian, Cyber Reconnaissance, Inc. CYR3CON leverages a patented hybrid of artificial intelligence and darkweb mining to predict and prevent future cyberattacks before they occur. CYR3CON approaches cybersecurity from the hacker’s worldview, identifying real threats to client assets based on attacker behaviors. Rather than providing broad and non-specific risk management information, CYR3CON intelligently sources the necessary data that, when analyzed, predicts the likelihood of an actual attack.

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ASU professors named 2019 American Geophysical Union Fellows

August 30, 2019

Osvaldo SalaArizona State University professors Osvaldo Sala, a drylands researcher and Regents Professor in the School of Life Sciences, and Meenakshi Wadhwa, a cosmochemistry expert and the new director of ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration, have been elected to the 2019 class of the American Geophysical Union Fellows. The election is an honor just 0.1% of AGU members in any given year enjoy. To be elected is a recognition of “attaining scientific eminence through achievements in research, as demonstrated by a breakthrough or discovery, innovation in science or the development of methods and instruments, or sustained impact," according to the AGU.

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ASU, CI and Potsdam researchers explore future of Alto Mayo, Peru

August 29, 2019

People sitting around table talking and brainstormingWhat is the future of coffee in a changing climate? How can we enhance the livelihoods of farmers while protecting the nature that surrounds them?

Conservation International and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research partnered with Arizona State University to help answer these questions.

“Farmers and government planners are making decisions today based on their past experience,” ASU-CI Professor of Practice and CI Peru's Director of Science and Development Percy Summers said. “This works in a [short-term, predictable] world, but increasingly change has become the new norm.”

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ASU solar project in Puerto Rico promotes energy independence

August 28, 2019

People working on Soalr panel installation in Puerto RicoArizona State University's first solar project in Puerto Rico promotes energy independence for the community of Barrio La Salud. Using flexible solar panels, a novel racking design and battery backup, community leaders can safely remove and replace panels before and after a major storm or hurricane. Doctoral students Jessica Otten and Tara Neitzold are part of a team of Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) students who worked with community leaders to design the system.

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Sala elected president of the Ecological Society of America

August 17, 2019

Osvaldo SalaOsvaldo Sala, a Regents and Foundation Professor at Arizona State University and a Distinguished Sustainability Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, was elected on August 16 as president of the Ecological Society of America. Elected by ESA members during the society’s annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, Sala will be president for a one-year term that ends in 2020. He is the first Hispanic person to serve as president in the organization's century-long history.

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ASU professor predicts future shortages in state rivers

ASU Now | August 16, 2019

Heather BatemanExtreme weather changes and a boom in population growth will result in a declining of the rivers in Arizona, according to an Arizona State University professor. Heather Bateman, a field ecologist and an associate professor in ASU’s College of Integrative Arts and Sciences predicts that the steady rise of Phoenix’s population will increase the consumption of water which will in turn reduce the amount of water in streams. Bateman has conducted research that shows that in highly modified rivers, there is also a “lower diversity of lizards, amphibians and small mammals.”

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ASU alumni incorporate sustainability into diverse fields

ASU Now | August 15, 2019

hand holding tiny globeAs three Arizona State University alumni — Debbie Namugayi, Katherine Palmer and Patrick Ware — show, sustainability practices can be implemented into any career.

As a sustainability manager at Eastern Kentucky University, School of Sustainability alumna Debbie Namugayi works to implement broad policy sustainability initiatives across the entire campus. She also works on engaging students who aren’t necessarily concerned about sustainability, taking a different approach by incentivizing them with fun activities rather than asking them to make sacrifices. She previously worked at the University of Maryland where she promoted a “green chapter” program for Greek life and recently implemented a bike sharing project at the 16,000-strong Eastern Kentucky University.

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Westerhoff named 2019 Clark Prize Laureate

ASU Now | July 31, 2019

Headshot of Paul WesterhoffPaul Westerhoff, the Fulton Chair of Environmental Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, was recently named the 2019 Clarke Prize Laureate by the National Water Research Institute. According to their website, the NWRI presents the annual 50,000 dollar prize and a medal to recognize researchers that solve real-world water problems and have made outstanding achievements in water science and technology.

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ASU engineers working to use traffic cameras to warn residents about urban flooding

ASU Now | July 31, 2019

car driving through flooded roadA team of researchers led by faculty from Arizona State University are working on a project called “Flood Aware” to warn people about urban flooding. The researchers plan to use traffic cameras pointed at curbs and gutters to observe road intersections, use an image processing algorithm to estimate the depth of the water and then feed the obtained data into an existing model that will forecast areas where flooding has already occurred.

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Confronting the challenge of water shortages

ASU Now | July 27, 2019

Indian woman pouring water into a large bowlAs the climate rapidly heats up, we can expect yet another collateral damage: water. This summer, Chennai, the sixth largest city in India extinguished their water supply. Next year, Day Zero — a concept originating in Cape Town where water taps run out of water — is predicted to occur in 21 Indian cities. However the problem is far from unique to India as water shortages are quickly becoming a problem many countries around the globe grapple with, including Iraq and Spain. Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Cape Town are also cities that have, or are predicted to face, water shortages in the coming years.

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ASU project has potential to revolutionize education around the globe

ASU Now | July 26, 2019

children using SolarSPELL technology for learningInitially developed as a student engineering project, the Solar Powered Educational Learning Library (SolarSPELL) has evolved into a global humanitarian mission that has the potential to revamp the way communities in disadvantaged societies learn and receive healthcare. It all began at Arizona State University when Laura Hosman, an associate professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, asked her students to construct a portable solar-powered library. In just five years, the initiative has distributed hundreds of digital libraries filled with educational resources in communities in nine countries that have limited or no internet connectivity.

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Keeping Olympic marathon spectators cool

ASU Now | July 9, 2019

crowd of people in JapanStanding for hours within crowds of people in hot, sunny and humid conditions is a recipe for heat-related illness — but that’s what spectators at the Tokyo Summer Olympics marathons may be dealing with on Aug. 2 and 9, 2020.

To help city officials and the Tokyo Olympic Committee prepare for extreme heat, Arizona State University senior sustainability scientists Jenni Vanos and Ariane Middel were part of a team that measured and mapped out microclimates along the marathon course to identify hot spots where spectators may face discomfort or illness.

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