May 19, 2008
Arizona State University placed sixth in the Thomson Scientific’s U.S. University’s Top 10 in the subject area of ecology and environmental sciences. The rankings, developed for 21 subject areas, were derived from an examination of 9,200 publications (from 2001-2005) associated with the Thomson’s University Science Indicators database. The top scores were held by University of California, Santa Barbara; Stanford University; University of Wisconsin, Madison; Harvard University and University of Washington.
May 18, 2008
The Arizona Republic
The lowly cyanobacterium isn’t much to look at, but the simple life form thought to have originally created the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere could be on the verge of making another dramatic impact on the planet: transforming the oil business.
Arizona State University researchers are exploring how one of Earth’s smallest organisms may supplant its largest industry by growing bacteria to make diesel-engine fuel.
May 16, 2008
Global Institute of Sustainability
The newly renovated building housing Arizona State University’s (ASU) Global Institute of Sustainability opened its doors this week.
May 14, 2008
The Arizona Republic
Michael Crow sees Arizona State University’s new Global Institute of Sustainability as a sort of global-issues medical school.
“Some 300 years ago, the first medical school was created with a few students, and before that, there was no such thing,” said the ASU president, adding that it took hundreds of years for medical schools to create successful practices for treating the illnesses of humanity.
May 13, 2008
The new home of the Global Institute of Sustainability is one of the most eco-friendly buildings on ASU’s Tempe campus. Equally important, it is also a pleasant environment.
May 13, 2008
In order for Phoenix to truly be a green city, it would have to be brown. Or not brown, exactly, but the sandy shade of the mountains that surround it: the jagged peaks and parched hills that enclose the Valley of the Sun.
May 5, 2008
The Sustainable Energy Fellowship has announced its 2008 cohort of student Fellows. The students, selected from a highly competitive pool from around the country, will begin the year-long fellowship process at a intensive week-long program to explore the technologies, policies, and economics of sustainable energy.
May 4, 2008
As published in The Arizona Republic: Viewpoints by Julian Hunt
A bipartisan delegation of U.S. lawmakers, including Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., participated in the Brazil Climate Change Forum, together with colleagues from the G8 and key emerging economies – Brazil, Mexico, China, India and South Africa.
At the February forum, U.S. representatives reassured the world that the United States is ready to reverse its policies and, independent of who wins the presidency in November, will collaborate in finding global solutions to climate change.
May 4, 2008
As published in The Arizona Republic: Viewpoints by Robert E. Lang and John Stuart Hall
Predictions of growth are not new, and neither is the idea of a network of cities. However, growth and development are now altering the United States at such a scale and pace that the “mega” concept is making its way into the mainstream of urban development and public policy.
May 4, 2008
As published in The Arizona Republic: Viewpoints by Grady Gammage and Rob Melnick
As Arizona boosters like to point out, people “vote with their feet.” In that election, more have come to Arizona than have been leaving. But a lot do leave.
For many, Arizona is a desert encampment: a good place to make money so you can afford to move on. For others, it is a sunny place to retire. But long-term commitment to this place has not been an Arizona norm.
May 4, 2008
As published in Arizona Republic: Viewpoints by Michael M. Crow, Arizona State University President
Twenty “megapolitan” areas with potential equivalent to the richest foreign countries are emerging in our nation. Arizona, with its natural assets, spirit of free enterprise and open culture is home to one of these, the Sun Corridor. These vast regions’ competitiveness will drive massive economic and social opportunities.
April 30, 2008
What can we do to live sustainably in an uncertain world? Here, in a desert city averaging eight inches of rainfall annually yet carpeted with golf courses and dotted with swimming pools, it is an especially relevant question. Unfortunately, Phoenix’s tangle of laws, rights and agreements, which range from individual wells to regional compacts, also make it a difficult one to answer. Add global climate change to the equation and you have a recipe for policy paralysis.
Breaking that paralysis means finding ways to make decisions under uncertainty. It sounds painfully difficult, but perhaps there is a common-sense approach that could get the valley on the right track right now. All it requires is balancing the budget and hedging our bets.
“I think businesspeople shake their heads at this because, who doesn’t understand the need to manage your stock portfolio in the face of an uncertain economy?” says Patricia Gober, co-director of Decision Center for a Desert City. “Businesses do that. Individuals do that. Why shouldn’t we do it with natural resources?”
People live with uncertainty every day. Some live within their means, saving for the future, while others max out their credit cards. Phoenix, unfortunately, falls into the latter category, living the lush life off non-Arizona water. One major step in the right direction, then, might be to cut up the proverbial credit cards and become a desert city again.
It might not be as hard as it sounds.
“In Phoenix, depending on the municipality, between 60 and 70 percent of home water use is outdoor water use,” Gober says. “We can xeriscape our yards and have tremendous impact before ever influencing the way people take showers, flush their toilets or wash their dishes.”
Xeriscaping would not only remove water-guzzling plants, it would also decrease water use by getting rid of high-tech sprinkler systems, which tend to be insensitive to variations in water requirements over time. Getting rid of swimming pools, which annually lose the equivalent of their total volume through evaporation, could also be a big help. A smarter alternative might include community pools in new residential developments.
Another more controversial way to reduce outdoor water use might be to infill the city. Increasing population density, Gober says, would decrease per-capita outdoor water use.
The problem with this option is its potential impact on the urban heat island—the area of locally higher temperature associated with urban areas. Increasing the amount of heat-absorbing building materials while shrinking swaths of open area could worsen heat island effects, as could the amplified insulation and wind resistance caused by taller buildings. If so, they could offset or overwhelm any potential gains from infill.
“How does that balance work? We don’t know,” Gober says. “If you plant trees, does that mitigate the urban heat island effect in central Phoenix? How much water would it take to maintain the vegetation versus how much water would it save to have a cooler environment? These are just a few of the real policy questions that need to be answered for Phoenix to sustain itself in uncertain times.”
Continuing investigations into the ideal urban balance, along with future developments in building materials and green technologies, could bring Phoenix closer to becoming a “sustainable city.” In the meantime, Gober says, finding smarter growth strategies and managing our own water budgets are a step in the right direction.
ASU Media Relations
April 30, 2008
Interdisciplinary focus help’s ASU’s Gober chart Phoenix’s future in uncertain times
Patricia Gober understands better than most that major shifts, in a climate or a career, are periods rife with uncertainty. The professor and former chair of Arizona State University’s department of geography was at the top of her game as a demographer and urban geographer when, a decade ago, she struck out to explore new intellectual terrain.
April 16, 2008
Winner of environmentally friendly innovations competition to receive $20,000
Tempe, AZ – On Apr. 18, 2008, students from Arizona State University (ASU) will travel to the Wal-Mart Home Office in Bentonville, Ark. to compete in the “Better Living Business Plan Challenge.” The competition was created to provide students around the world an opportunity to invent sustainable products or business solutions and present them to a panel of Wal-Mart executives, government officials, suppliers and environmental organizations. In addition to gaining an audience with some of the top business and sustainability leaders in the US, the winning school will receive $20,000.
March 28, 2008
NBC visited Arizona State University in February 2008 to explore in depth the nation’s first School of Sustainability. Their report aired nationally March 24, 2008, on NBC Nightly News. Interviews with students, professors, and administrators shed light on challenges facing this generation of students, opportunities that await graduates, and how ASU’s School of Sustainability prepares students for the future.
February 8, 2008
“News articles offer an on-the-ground look at how cities are tackling specific problems from poverty and sanitation to traffic jams. Reviews and Perspectives examine how cities take shape and the impacts of urbanization on the environment, human health, economic growth, and the demographics of the developing world.”
Be sure to check out the video presentation including GIOS researcher Nancy Grimm.
January 28, 2008
From a young age, small environmental efforts like this were embedded in my thought process. I saw how being environmentally savvy was a social event because I got to do it with my favorite person; an environmental event because cans were not being put in the garbage; and an economic event, because I earned a small dividend! Although these realizations came much later, the founding principles were there.
January 28, 2008
To help create solutions to global warming, more than 1,200 colleges, universities and high schools in Arizona and across the United States this week will participate in Focus the Nation, a teach-in to educate and energize about 1 million young adults.
January 25, 2008
You know algae. It’s the gunk that collects on the sides of a fish tank when you forget to clean it. It’s the slime that makes you slip on rocks while crossing a stream. You probably think of algae as a nuisance, if you even bother to think of it at all.
January 23, 2008
Two grants to ASU for development of new solar energy technologies show how ASU’s solar energy research has grown in new and important ways.