Skip to Content

Sustainability News

CAP LTER urban ecology work highlighted by Arizona PBS

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News CAP LTER News

October 15, 2018

2 people making measurements in desert with city skyline in the backgroundThe Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research program, a unit of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, was recently featured in an episode of “Catalyst” by Arizona PBS. The episode, “Desert animals in urban centers,” discussed current research about how natural environments (including plant and animal life) are affected by urban development.

Sharon Hall, a senior sustainability scientist who works with the CAP LTER, said that some plant and animal life continues to flourish within or nearby Phoenix.

"There's all these hidden spots around the city that nature is thriving,” said Hall. “If we can think about finding those areas and protecting them — or at least understanding them a bit better, maybe then we can try to make our landscape a little bit more friendly to the types of animals that . . . are living among us all the time."

Continue Reading

Source

Global Drylands Center affiliate wins 2018 American Geophysical Union Ambassador Award

ASU Wrigley Institute News Global Drylands News

October 11, 2018

Esteban Jobbágy, an Arizona State University Global Drylands Center affiliate, has been named a 2018 American Geophysical Union Ambassador Award recipient. Recipients are chosen and recognized for their achievements in space and Earth science and also their dedication to science that benefits humanity.

AGU President Eric Davidson stated in a press release that “this year’s awardees exemplify AGU’s ongoing commitment to recognizing and promoting the best scientific research, education, and communication in the Earth and space sciences.” Honorees will be recognized at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C. this December.

Continue Reading

The inconvenient consequences of a culture of convenience

ASU Wrigley Institute News Environmental Humanities

October 5, 2018

Huge expanse of plastic waste with sunsetSingle-use plastics — such as cups with straws, takeout containers and water bottles — are so common in our culture of convenience that we often don’t give them a second thought.

But their momentary utility is misleading: These items stick around a really long time.

Because of the way plastic is designed, “its afterlife is much longer than its useful lifespan,” said Rolf Halden, director of the Biodesign Institute's Center for Environmental Health Engineering at Arizona State University. Plastic that we use for just a moment “has the potential to pollute for decades, centuries or millennia.”

Continue Reading

Source

Biodiversity conservation needs new partnerships

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

October 4, 2018

Large tiger with baby in snowIf conservation science is going to save the myriad species under threat in the world today, it’s going to have to go about it more efficiently, according to a paper published this week by an Arizona State University ecology professor.

If academia remains in an ivory tower and nongovernmental organizations working to save species lurch from problem to problem, headway won’t be made fast enough to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, said Leah Gerber, a professor in the School of Life Sciences. She is also founding director of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, where she leads a team of staff and scholars building capacity to solve the most pressing biodiversity environmental challenges.

Like many other fields, conservation science tends to rely on intuition — rather than evidence — about decision-making, resource allocation and spatial planning. Evidence would be the basis for an actionable principle, Gerber said.

Continue Reading

Source

Female entrepreneurs strengthen sustainable businesses through WE Empower Challenge

ASU Wrigley Institute News

October 4, 2018

Awardees of the inaugural WE Empower UN SDG Challenge — a global business competition for female entrepreneurs who are advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals — recently spent several days in New York City for the U.N. Global Goals Week.

The WE Empower Challenge was initiated by Amanda Ellis, executive director of Hawaii and Asia Pacific for the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Ellis attended Global Goals Week with the five awardees, who represent each of the U.N. regions, as did ASU student Ember Van Vranken from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, who helped screen the applicants and was randomly chosen to join the group in New York.

During their time in New York, the awardees were featured at a high-level session at the U.N. General Assembly with the U.N. secretary-general, the president of the World Bank, five female presidents and the U.N. high commissioner for human rights. They participated in leadership trainings including blockchain and a number of networking opportunities, and had their work highlighted by the U.N. Foundation. Among their activities was a meeting with Lauren Gula, the U.N.'s senior manager of gender equality, to sign the Women's Empowerment Principles.

Continue Reading

Source

ASU researcher innovates solar energy technology in space

ASU Wrigley Institute News

October 3, 2018

gloved hand holding solar cellExperts predict that by 2050 we’re going to have global broadband internet satellite networks, in-orbit manufacturing, space tourism, asteroid mining and lunar and Mars bases.

More than a gigawatt of solar energy will be needed to power these activities, or the equivalent of 3.125 million photovoltaic panels. However, because it is currently the most expensive component on a satellite, scientists are looking for ways to make solar energy in space affordable — and to keep solar power systems from degrading so quickly in the extremely harsh environment of space.

Arizona State University postdoctoral researcher Stanislau “Stas” Herasimenka thinks he has the solution to provide cost-effective and efficient, next-generation solar power for space applications.

Continue Reading

Source

Arizona university researchers collaborate to forecast, track flooded infrastructure

ASU Wrigley Institute News

October 3, 2018

lightning over mountains with purple skyThe National Science Foundation has awarded a $1.5 million Smart and Connected Communities grant to a team of researchers at Arizona’s three public universities to develop a network that integrates existing technologies and crowdsourced data to improve real-time knowledge of flooding and enhance communication during flood events.

The Integrated Flood Stage Observation Network (IFSON) will capitalize on a number of communication technologies to bring together citizens and mobilize city planners, first responders and other local stakeholders to assess flood risks and effectively communicate within a shared, collaboratively constructive information space for flood emergencies.

Continue Reading

Source

ASU sustainability scientist developing energy-saving solution for frozen-food storage

ASU Wrigley Institute News

October 2, 2018

Four people in winter clothes hold ice cream inside large refrigerated buildingSometimes something sweet requires serious smarts.

Arizona State University sustainability scientist Kristen Parrish’s work focuses on integrating energy-efficiency methods into the design, construction and operational processes of buildings.

Robert Wang’s expertise in thermal science includes the applications of thermoelectricity, thermal-energy storage and phase-change materials and processes.

Together they are a formidable force in the quest for … well-preserved, quality ice cream.

Continue Reading

Source

ASU sustainability scientist creates climate data visualization tool that reveals real-time changes in atmosphere

ASU Wrigley Institute News

October 1, 2018

Woman with black hair and red shirt standing on stairsPolarGlobe is a large-scale, web-based four-dimensional visualization tool allowing climate data access to anyone with an internet connection. It’s capable of illustrating changes in the atmosphere vividly in real time. This tool was developed by Wenwen Li, a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University.

Designed specifically for polar scientists seeking to understand the ice caps, the tool is also useful for high school science teachers and weather fanatics.

“It’s not just for research. Every day, weather watchers can see what’s going on,” said Li, who is also an associate professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “We would love to inspire the next generation into science.”

Continue Reading

Source

Meeting the UN's Global Goals village by village

ASU Wrigley Institute News

September 28, 2018

village in Nepal with flowers in foregroundIn 2015, world leaders agreed to establish 17 goals to achieve a better world by 2030. An end to poverty and hunger. Clean water and energy. Gender equality and decent work. Together, they are called the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

And when they’re met, it's remarkable.

Arizona State University faculty members working on projects that fulfill the goals have seen it in places stretching from Pakistan to Pacific islands.

ASU Now profiled three projects advancing these UN Sustainable Development Goals that are led by sustainability scientists from the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability: Netra Chhetri, Clark Miller and Laura Hosman. Read the full story.

Source

ASU scientists explore carbon’s next frontier with Keck Foundation funding

ASU Wrigley Institute News

September 27, 2018

beaker with liquidArizona State University sustainability scientist Peter Buseck is part of a team that recently received a $1 million award from the Keck Foundation with additional ASU matching funds to lead an ASU effort to further explore carbon’s potential.

Chemists have more recently dreamed of harnessing the potential of carbon’s next frontier — an exotic yet elusive pure form called carbyne. Carbyne is a chainlike material proposed to be stronger than diamond, more conductive than copper, and even reportedly found in stardust and meteorites.

But for the past few decades, many scientists have staked various claims of making carbyne in the lab — only to be proven wrong in the waking light of day by the rigorous work of the scientific community, including contributions from Buseck, who has a joint appointment in the School of Molecular Sciences and the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Continue Reading

Source

ASU forms partnership to develop remote medical clinics

ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

September 25, 2018

man in collared shirt posing in front of solar panelsArizona State University has joined forces with Medavate and Baya Build, companies that innovate in healthcare and construction industries, respectively, for a unique partnership to deliver groundbreaking healthcare through remote medical and telehealth clinics. The trio partnered based on common missions to address inefficiencies in healthcare, building and energy.

The partnership's energy solutions are designed and integrated by an interdisciplinary team of collaborators led by Nathan Johnson, an expert in sustainable and resilient energy systems at Arizona State University. Johnson is an assistant professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, director of the Laboratory for Energy and Power Solutions, and senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Johnson’s team of researchers and developers collaborate with developing countries seeking to address energy needs for emerging market economies and the rural poor. Their work incorporates both on-grid modernization and off-grid solutions for application to industrialized countries and emerging economies.

Continue Reading

ASU discusses sustainability goals in annual State of Sustainability Summit

ASU Wrigley Institute News

September 25, 2018

Michael Crow in suit speaking at podiumAt the fourth annual State of Sustainability Summit, Arizona State University remains committed to leading — and teaching — sustainability. Home to the world’s first school of sustainability and the first university to offer a degree in the practice, ASU strives to act as a living laboratory and example of sustainability for society.

“We are educating the next generation of leaders who will go out with this knowledge, and every decision they make will be informed by this knowledge,” university Chief Financial Officer Morgan Olsen said. “I can’t think of anything more important in the area of sustainability we can do than that single function. … We’re a model of what we’d like to see in this world.”

Set against a global backdrop, the university’s efforts aren’t even a drop in the bucket. All the efforts of all American universities who signed a pledge to reduce carbon emissions amount to about 3 percent of U.S. emissions.

Continue Reading

Source

ASU researchers win grant to explore how snowpack changes impact water rights, policy

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News Food Systems News

September 21, 2018

Snowy mountain with forestMountain snowpack is melting earlier, leaving water regulators searching for new approaches and farmers concerned about the risk to their crops. To help stakeholders find solutions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday awarded $4.9 million to an interdisciplinary team of researchers from five institutions in three states, including Arizona State University.

Mountain snowpack and rainfall are the primary sources of water for the arid western United States, and water allocation rules determine how that water gets distributed among competing uses. But earlier melting of mountain snowpack is altering the timing of runoff, putting additional pressure on reservoirs to meet the needs of agricultural water rights holders.

Over the next five years, scientists from ASU will join researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno; Desert Research Institute; Colorado State University and Northern Arizona University to use a new $4.97 million grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to explore different aspects of this issue:

Continue Reading

Physicist joins ASU LightWorks to help solarize society

ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

September 18, 2018

The Macedonian-born Ivan Ermanoski concentrates on making fuels and products using solar heat. He’s a recent arrival at Arizona State University LightWorks, where he’ll be working on solarizing our society — that is, reducing the use of fossil fuels by replacing them with solar-derived fuels.

To accomplish this, he and his colleagues are planning to use a thermochemical cycle that would keep carbon dioxide from being added to the atmosphere.

The thermochemical cycle begins when a metal oxide is heated until it gives up some of its oxygen. At lower temperatures, the material wants that oxygen restored, and if exposed to carbon dioxide or steam, the material will take an oxygen from those molecules to yield carbon monoxide or hydrogen.

Continue Reading

Source

A conservative case for a carbon tax

Board Letter Thought Leader Series ASU Wrigley Institute News

September 18, 2018

Bob Litterman smiling and wearing suitA Thought Leader Series Piece

by Bob Litterman

Continuously pumping greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere is a risk. We simply don’t know our atmosphere’s capacity to safely absorb these heat-trapping emissions, but we do know it’s not limitless. Evidence shows that Earth’s temperature is rising, oceans are warming and acidifying, ice sheets are shrinking, and intense weather events are happening more and more frequently — all of which directly or indirectly cause societal damage. Though Earth’s climate has always changed, it is virtually certain that this rapid trend of warming is caused by human activity since the mid-20th century. And there’s no sign of it slowing down.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, carbon dioxide accounted for 81 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2016. As we drive gas-fueled cars, power electricity grids with fossil fuels, grow food and live our lives, we are dumping carbon into the atmosphere at an unprecedented and alarming rate. Once released into the atmosphere, carbon dioxide can affect climate for hundreds or thousands of years — longer than any other greenhouse gas.

At what point will we reach a catastrophic tipping point in which future generations will be unable to adapt to the impacts of climate change, leading to a significant and permanent decline in well-being?

Continue Reading

ASU organ concert explores how the U.S.-Mexico border wall is an invasive species

ASU Wrigley Institute News

September 17, 2018

ASU's Fritts organ pipes.Arizona State University’s School of Music launched the 2018-19 Organ Series with a multidisciplinary presentation, “Walls of Sound: The Ecology of the Borderlands,” addressing the ecological impact of a wall at Arizona’s southern border.

“Our program seeks to show that the border wall is an invasive species amongst the biodiversity in the borderlands,” said Kimberly Marshall, Goldman Professor of Organ in the School of Music in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “Knowing that the border wall issue has been explored extensively, we focus specifically on the unforeseen ecological problems of erecting a wall through a fragile Sonoran Desert ecosystem.”

The multidisciplinary presentation consisted of video, audio and scientific work of many on- and off-campus collaborators. In addition to the music, Toby Yatso, lecturer in the ASU School of Music and artist-in-residence at Phoenix Theatre, narrated the performance. Michael Schoon, associate professor in the ASU School of Sustainability and Senior Sustainability Scientist for the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, provided expertise to the program’s narration. Samantha Lloyd, multimedia specialist in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, provided experiences and expertise on biodiversity in the borderlands through her videography work.

Read the full story on ASU Now.

Source

ASU sustainability scientists aim to mitigate urban heat in Phoenix

ASU Wrigley Institute News

September 14, 2018

Downtown Phoenix skyline with yellow skyNot only is Phoenix situated in the Southwest desert — the hottest region in the United States — it also happens to be the hottest major city in the country, and among the hottest in the world. More than 300 days of sun and thousands of square miles of concrete, asphalt and glass combine to make Greater Phoenix a living laboratory for the urban heat phenomenon and its associated ills.

And it’s only getting hotter.

Climate scientists predict daytime high temperatures will get higher, and nighttime low temperatures will continue their alarming upward trajectory. This is happening in a city that has already warmed an average of 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century, according to Nancy Selover, the state’s climatologist at Arizona State University’s Arizona State Climate Office.

Continue Reading

Source

A new angle on cancer

ASU Wrigley Institute News

September 13, 2018

Crested cactus Cancer has been a part of life on Earth since the beginning of multicellularity, yet it is a foe humankind continues to grapple with — at least in part because we still do not fully understand it.

Athena Aktipis, senior sustainability scientist at Arizona State University, studies cooperation among living things. Aktipis and her husband, fellow ASU scholar Carlo Maley, are making inroads toward a better understanding of cancer through more traditional scientific methods in their labs at the Biodesign Institute at ASU. But they’ve also conceived an unusual way to allow people to consider it anew.

Continue Reading

ASU LightWorks hire brings new energy to ASU

ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

September 10, 2018

Jim Miller stands with colleagues around the CR5 thermochemical reactorDecades ago, oilmen had little interest in natural gas, the byproduct of crude oil extracted from the earth. So, they burned it off, like so many lit torches atop Texas’s oil fields. Jim Miller’s grandfather recalls reading the evening paper by their light. Miller, too, recalls living in their shadows. Now he’s living in the Valley of the Sun, working to develop a different kind of energy industry.

The native Texan says he wanted to be a chemical engineer because the successful people he knew as a child either worked in chemical plants or they worked for NASA. “That was it,” he says.

But years later, he found himself working not in a chemical plant nor at NASA but instead thinking up ways to create and harness alternative energy — energy gleaned not from fossil fuels but from renewable sources.

Continue Reading

Source