News

Building Biking System Creates Healthy Option

Green Talk

December 15, 2007

by Brad Allenby for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Professor Brad Allenby, Arizona State UniversityI always enjoy visiting the Netherlands. It's a small country, prosperous and nicely designed, with a cultural friskiness that enabled them to become the first major European trading empire. This time, I was visiting the Technical University in Delft, and I couldn't help noticing two related things. The first was the continuing popularity of bicycles, supported by a sophisticated network of bike paths that let you get anywhere you wanted. The second was most people in Delft were in noticeably better shape than many Phoenix residents.

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Agricultural Past A Key to Arizona's Future

Green Talk

December 8, 2007

by Michael Barton for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Professor Michael Barton, Arizona State UniversityIn H.G. Well's famous book, The Time Machine, the central character travels into the future to witness the long-term consequences of the actions of human civilization. Alas, we have no time machine to aid us in trying to make wise decisions and sound public policies that will shape the world we live in. But my colleagues and I in the School of Human Evolution & Social Change at Arizona State University are seeking new ways to learn from the long record of decisions and actions from the past, and from their consequences, to help us better anticipate the outcomes of the complex ways in which our actions may impact the world around us. Many times, both the desirable and the undesirable (from a human point of view) consequences in our past were the result of well-intentioned decisions. But whether the results of those decisions were positive or negative became apparent only over the course of decades and centuries. This is all the more reason to wish for a time machine to allow us to glimpse the future. Fortunately, emerging computer technology, combined with scientific study of past societies (archaeology) and ecosystems (paleoecology), offers an exciting new opportunity to study the interactions between human activities and environmental consequences.

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Stop and Think about One-Use Waste

Green Talk

November 30, 2007

by Greg Peterson for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Greg PetersonStop . . . Think for a moment about that item you just tossed in the trash. Often it is a cup, lid, straw, or plastic bag that you used only once, for a short period of time, then tossed "away" to some unknown place called a landfill. Fast-food restaurants buy them by the gross for customers who then dispose of them in the trash. Then the restaurant wraps them all up in a bigger plastic bag and hauls them to the dumpster.

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Sustainability for Arizona: The Issue of Our Age

November 27, 2007

Morrison Institute and the Global Institute of Sustainability
The 6th edition of Morrison Institute's Arizona Policy Choices series, Sustainability for Arizona describes sustainability as a defining issue and organizing principle for the 21st century. Produced in partnership with Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability, the report provides real-life examples and policy choices for the state. It includes the advice and insights of more than 25 policy leaders and thinkers from the public and private sectors, including ASU President Michael Crow.

> Read the report

Technology-Management Gap Grows

Green Talk

November 17, 2007

by Brad Allenby for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Dr. Brad Allenby, Professor at Arizona State UniversityIn 1945, in the blinding light of the first nuclear test at White Sands, N.M., physicist Robert Oppenheimer recalled the words of Vishnu, from the Bhagavad Gita: "Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds."

Nuclear weapons represented a technology that, for the first time in human history, raised the specter of global catastrophe. But through planning, negotiation, regulation, and perhaps luck, the Cold War ended without nuclear exchange. Technology was managed.

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Lawn-Watering Issue Is Complicated: Keeping Grass Green Drains Resources, But also Helps Keep Landscapes, Nearby Homes Cool

Green Talk

October 19, 2007

by Chris Martin for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Chris Martin, Professor at Arizona State University-PolytechnicIt's October in Phoenix, and the public's attention has once again turned to overseeding, ryegrass, and winter lawns. Phoenicians are blessed with a year-round growing season. This favorable climate gives residents the luxury of growing lush summer and winter lawns. Soft, deep-green ryegrass winter lawns are particularly attractive to residents and winter visitors because the level of people's outdoor recreation and lawn play dramatically increases as the weather cools.

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Still Pioneering: Sustainable Engineering in Arizona

Green Talk

October 6, 2007

by Brad Allenby for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Brad Allenby, Professor at Arizona State UniversityWhen I was younger and in charge of AT&T's Design for Environment program, I once suggested to a Bell Laboratories design team that we create a “sustainable telephone.” We all thought it was a great idea, until someone asked me what one was and how it differed from an “ordinary” telephone. Would it “save the Earth”? Or perhaps “achieve social justice”? That seemed a lot to ask of a simple telephone.

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Urban Heat Island Affects Phoenix All Year-Round

Green Talk

September 22, 2007

by Anthony J. Brazel for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Dr. Anthony Brazel, Professor at Arizona State UniversityThe monsoon may be the most talked-about weather feature of Phoenix in recent days, but another weather-related phenomenon going on in the Valley is in effect 12 months of the year. It's the urban heat island, or UHI, a phenomenon that makes the Phoenix nighttime low temperatures 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than temperatures in rural areas. The reason for an increasing UHI is the growth of Phoenix as we build out farther and farther into the desert valley.

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Outdoor Water Use Strains Resources

September 1, 2007

by Patricia Gober for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Patricia Gober, Professor at Arizona State University and Director of Decision Center for a Desert CityWater is the key resource for growth in a desert city like Phoenix. The Valley is blessed with a diverse portfolio of water sources, including the upland watersheds of the Salt and Verde rivers, the Colorado River Basin and, when surface waters are in short supply, a vast network of underground aquifers.

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Being Smart About Being Green

August 27, 2007

By Philip White
Arizona Republic: Environment

Photo of Philip White, Assistant Professor, Arizona State University Evidence that we each need to be more environmentally responsible surrounds us. Global warming is no longer just “a theory,” and the rate of species extinction increases precipitously as the growing human population expands its pressure on the Earth's resources.

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Alternative Pavements Ease Urban-Heat Effect

Green Talk

August 4, 2007

by Jay Golden and Kamil Kaloush for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Jay Golden, Assistant Professor at Arizona State UniversityPhoto of Kamil Kaloush, Associate Professor at Arizona State UniversityIn rapidly urbanizing regions such as Phoenix, pavements comprise the largest percentage of the developed urban fabric, more so than roofs and open space. During daytime, streets, highways and parking lots absorb and retain short-wave radiation from the sun.

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Monsoon is More than Just an Escape from the Heat

Green Talk

July 21, 2007

by Andrew Ellis for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Dr. Andrew Ellis, Professor at Arizona State UniversityJuly . . . the time of year when Arizonans study the horizon for a break in the monotonous weather pattern of late spring and early summer. After enduring our weather doldrums of May and June, a little hunger for some dramatic weather is expected.

But really, does the monsoon matter?

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A Greener Way to Hydrate

Green Talk

July 6, 2007

by Rod Groff for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Rod Groff, Program Manager at Arizona State UniversitySurviving summer in Phoenix requires near-constant access to beverages and increasingly consumers are choosing non-carbonated drinks, especially bottled water.

According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, U.S. sales of bottled water have spiked from 3.8 billion units sold in 1997 to 279 billion units in 2006. The polyethylene terephthalate (PET) single-use plastic bottles that are most common are frequently littered and have a lower recycling rate at 23% than any of the most common packaging materials according to a February report by the Consumer Recycling Institute (CRI).

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Calculate Your Carbon Footprint and Then Take Steps to Reduce It

Green Talk

June 30, 2007

by Harvey Bryan for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Dr. Harvey Bryan, Professor in School of Architecture and Landscape Architechure and the School of Sustainability, Arizona State UniversityThe subject of global warming is the focus of considerable national and international attention of late. Taking action, however, does not have to be so distant or dependent on governments. There is a lot an individual or household can do, such as measure its “carbon footprint.” This concept was created to measure the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that an activity releases into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to global warming. Once your footprint is calculated, you can make changes to your behavior or lifestyle to reduce that footprint. Carbon footprinting can be undertaken at various scales: the units of measure are usually in pounds or kilograms of CO2 per year for the smaller scale or metric tons of CO2 for the larger scale. Value through the use of offsets has also been placed on CO2. Carbon offsets can be purchased from $6 to $30 per metric ton of CO2 per year from a seller who promises to use that money to neutralize or offset your CO2 emissions.

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ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability: Guiding Arizona's Long-Term Future

June 9, 2007

by Jonathan Fink for the Arizona Republic

Photo of Jonathan Fink, Julie Ann Wrigley Director of the Global Institute of Sustainability and University Sustainability Officer at Arizona State UniversityArizona is a state built on optimism – a welcoming land of dazzling landscapes, abundant sunshine, and seemingly limitless economic opportunity.

But lately there is a growing unease among our citizens, concern that the bounty that drew us here might be running out. The decade-long drought might turn into a 1930s-style Dust Bowl. The choking “brown cloud” of air pollution might never lift. Night-time temperatures might pass the century mark and keep on rising. Freeway construction might never relieve the growing load of traffic.

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