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The Texas Storm Was No Black Swan

March 3, 2021

Last month's winter storms proved Texas' utility systems are not prepared to persevere through extreme weather, but what about the rest of the nation? Or the planet?

It goes without saying that more extreme weather events are on the horizon. In the latest thought leadership piece for Medium by Peter Schlosser, Steven Beschloss, Clea Edwards and Jason Franz, we look at how Texas responded to their lack of preparation and how the rest of the nation and the world can avoid a similar collapse.

Given that electrification is not only a cornerstone to a functioning modern society but also central to the success of critical infrastructure systems supporting water, food, fuel, and much more, this lack of preparedness is stunning. But Texas is not alone in the failure to adequately prepare. While Texas did intentionally place itself on an energy island, isolating itself from the two national grid systems that allow for greater backup and sharing, it should be seen as a bellwether of growing and increasingly interconnected threats. In California, for example, rising heat levels and massive wildfires crippled its energy system and required rolling blackouts.

We can hope that this catastrophic failure of preparedness will be a loud signal to leadership in Texas and beyond to confront the flaws of their systems amid continuing climate change. But hope is not enough: It will take massive new resources, rethinking the national and regional power grid systems, and redesigning them so that they are resilient enough to withstand extreme weather conditions.

Read the full article here.

"COVID-19 has revealed some of the weaknesses in the energy system": Gary Dirks talks energy transitions with International Policy Digest

March 3, 2021

Gary Dirks, senior director of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and executive director of ASU LightWorks, recently sat down for a conversation with Marc Serber from the International Policy Digest. In this exchange, Dirks shares ASU's history in energy research and why this pandemic has shined a brighter light on the need to transition fuel sourcing and production away from fossils and to renewables.

"Well, COVID-19 has had a very negative impact on the oil industry, and it’s probably the last nail in the coffin for coal also," Dirks said. "I think it’s drawn forward a lot of the thinking about the pace at which we aim to decarbonize, probably by as much as 10 years, and that has opened up a lot more thinking about how and when we actually deploy renewable energy."

Read the full interview here, and learn more about the work going on at LightWorks.

Peter Schlosser discusses climate and opportunity on Horizon

February 12, 2021

ASU's Vice President and Vice Provost of Global Futures, Peter Schlosser, was featured this week on the KAET news and current affairs program Horizon, where he discussed the current threat of climate change and the Biden administration's prioritization of climate action.

"We actually see the expression of this (existential) threat, which is a global threat, but we see it locally. Here in Phoenix, we see wildfires, we have drought...we have record heat, record death related to heat. So, more frequently we see fallout of this global crisis play out in our backyard."

Across the interview with Ted Simmons, Schlosser addresses the ideas of decarbonization, the opportunity of job growth and trillion-dollar industries and the real impact of the Paris Accords and the meaning behind the Unied States re-entering the accords via a recent executive order.

"I hope that by seeing more and experiencing more - more people are getting closer to the crisis - I hope this will wake them up and make them willing to take on different choices, different from what got us into this crisis."

View the fulll interview at KAET PBS.

2020 brings record heat and dryness to Arizona

February 12, 2021

“The heat in 2020 was not helpful in the least, and the global pandemic was not helpful as well,” said associate professor David Hondula, a partner with the Healthy Urban Environments program at the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation.

In an article featured in the Arizona Republic, Hondula points to energy assistance and home weatherization assistance for low-income people as solutions to help avoid severe risk and even deaths due to the extreme heat and conditions of the current climate.

Read more about the consequences of the State’s driest summer on record and the pandemic on vulnerable people in our communities.

Video: Narrative has power in driving clean energy revolution

February 9, 2021

On Feb. 4, in association with Arizona State University, the American Resilience Project, a nonprofit organization that uses storytelling to address social issues and inspire action, premiered the second film in its “Current Revolution” series on energy transitions, titled “Nation in Transition,” which tells the story of the closing of the coal plant on the Navajo Nation.

Sustainability scholar Paul Hirt, ASU emeritus professor of history, helped to produce the documentary with filmmaker Roger Sorkin. One of the key units at ASU that provided support for this film was sustainability scholar Steven BeschlossNarrative Storytelling Initiative. The ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and the ASU School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies co-sponsored the premiere, which featured a dialogue with Hirt and Sorkin, as well as Edward Dee, executive director of the Office of Navajo Government Development, and sustainability scholar Kris Mayes, co-director of the Just Energy Transition Center in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory.

Watch the video, or read a Q&A with Hirt and Sorkin at ASU News.

The Earth League launches 10 New Insights of Climate Science with UNFCCC

January 29, 2021

Unaccounted emissions from permafrost, threats to the land sink, impacts on mental health and freshwater, COVID-19 outcomes and rights-based litigation to address climate change are some of the most recent findings in climate change science summarized in the 10 New Insights in Climate Science 2020.

This interdisciplinary report was launched by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory's partners at The Earth League in partnership with report co-sponsors United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at a virtual event on Jan. 27 featuring Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. This report accompanies a paper simultaneously released in the journal Global Sustainability. The project was made possible through a partnership with Future Earth and the World Climate Research Programme. ASU contributors to this report included Peter Schlosser, co-chair of The Earth League, Clea Edwards and Clark Miller. The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory is the North American secretariat for The Earth League, working in coordination with the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS) at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany (PIK).

Access the full report.

Feb 18: Black and Indigenous Relations of Doing and Being

January 26, 2021

Author Tiffany King will present the 2021 Environmental Humanities Initiative Distinguished Lecture, a keynote address of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture (ISSRNC) Conference.

Professor King’s research is situated at the intersections of slavery and indigenous genocide in the Americas. Author of The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies, King will discuss her forthcoming book project, Red and Black Alchemies of Flesh: Conjuring Decolonial and Abolitionist Presents.

This lecture, set for February 18 at 4:00 p.m. MST, is co-sponsored by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Institute for Humanities Research, the Black Ecologies Initiative and the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. Register online.

Global Futures hosts climate policy discussion with Obama administration's John Morton and GFL fellow Frank Sesno

December 22, 2020

The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory hosted a special discussion with Emmy-winning journalist Frank Sesno and former Obama Administration climate policy advisor John E. Morton for a comprehensive conversation about President-elect Biden's incoming administration and it's placement of the climate and climate action as one of four priorities. The two went over what challenges and opportunities incoming administration and Cabinet-level appointees will confront. What will be their likely priorities—domestically and internationally—and how will they engage a diverse collection of stakeholders?

The interview was conducted by award-winning television journalist and Global Futures Fellow Frank Sesno, who also is director of Planet Forward, a climate and environment focused news platform through George Washington University, where Sesno is faculty. Morton is a former White House Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change, responsible for coordinating policies and strategies on international energy and climate change for the Obama administration. Morton is currently a partner at Pollination, a climate change advisory and investment firm. He brings more than 25 years of experience in emerging markets, investment finance and environmental policy.

The conversation was grounded by a welcome by Peter Schlosser, Vice President and Vice Provost for Global Futures.

View the full conversation here.

New climate video series centers on diverse youth voices

September 24, 2020

Alexandria Villasenor speaking at climate action eventClimate change may feel formidable, and people worldwide are already experiencing its effects, but our future is not yet decided. Catastrophe is not inevitable.

Countless people around the world, recognizing the urgency of this moment, are taking climate action in a way that draws from their personal experiences and passions. A new PBS video series in collaboration with the Arizona State University Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory is telling the stories of some of these courageous, innovative and captivating people.

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Writers from around the world envision the future, earn spot in new magazine

September 23, 2020

Graphic that says "Envisioning the Future: A story contest 2020"In April, Arizona State University’s Narrative Storytelling Initiative invited people worldwide to write a short story on what they think the future holds, based on our current world. No science fiction, no fantasy, but an imagined future reality.

The results are in, and they’re illuminating. Enjoy the top five in a new magazine displayed on Issuu: Envisioning the Future, Volume 1.

The initiative received 43 submissions from around the world — with 20 from the ASU community — for its story contest in partnership with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory. Adaptation to a changed reality was one of the recurring themes among most of the stories, which ranged from 400 to 700 words, said Steven Beschloss, director of the Narrative Storytelling Initiative.

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West Coast Fires: Will they finally push us to act?

September 21, 2020

In our latest piece on Medium, co-authors Peter Schlosser and Steven Beschloss examine the wildfire outbreak across the western US and if this is finally the climate-oriented moment that will move people to take that next step towards impact and change. "In short, are these fires, is this deadly pandemic, is another round of pounding from hurricanes, capable of awakening a reluctant, distracted public? Has the alarm bell grown so loud that it can’t be ignored any longer? Have we reached a tipping point when Americans and others walk to their proverbial window and shout: 'I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore'?"

You can read the piece 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.

New study shows soil as significant carbon sequestration driver

ASU Now | September 17, 2020

rich soil with single sprout illuminated in sunlightAs harmful atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to increase, understanding the planetary carbon balance has become the single most important scientific question.

A new report by two leading ecological scientists at Arizona State University quantified the global soil carbon sequestered by roots plus the amount leached into the soil. They revealed that climate and land-use are major influencers of belowground carbon sequestration. The study, “Global patterns and climatic controls of belowground net carbon fixation,” also found that the amount of carbon sequestered belowground changes with precipitation but its effect varies among large vegetation types.

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ASU launches Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory to transform the world for a better future

ASU Now | September 9, 2020

Artist rendering of new ASU building ISTB7The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory represents the next quantum leap in the evolution of Arizona State University as one of the world’s premier centers for studies of sustainability, Earth's life-supporting systems and the future of life on our planet.

In rethinking traditional approaches to academic work and public engagement — often too slow to ensure needed impact — the Global Futures Laboratory aims to engage with speed and urgency to address the existential threats facing the planet and global society. To complete these goals, the lab encompasses a new College of Global Futures, a major research institute called the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, a solutions service called the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, and engagement initiatives.

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ASU joins global research cohort to launch new center focused on society’s relationship with oceans

ASU Now | August 21, 2020

men on a beach holding a large net near a boat, walking toward the ocean Arizona State University, through its partnership with Conservation International, joins the University of Washington and the Nippon Foundation to announce the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center. The Ocean Nexus Center is an interdisciplinary research initiative that focuses on social equity, ocean sustainability and climate change. The Ocean Nexus Center will bring uncompromised, critical voices to policy and public conversations that will help enable research and policy engagement. The new center is supported by the Nippon Foundation’s investment of $32.5 million over 10 years.

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If “the economy” is collapsing, how do people survive?

Medium | August 6, 2020

busy marketOur latest Medium article, written by the Human Economies Working Group at the ASU Global Futures Laboratory, explores the relationship between the formal and informal economy, particularly in this period of crisis. The authors write: "A growing number of innovative economists and other scholars...are challenging us to reevaluate our profit- and growth-driven economy on the basis of an ethics of inclusion and sustainability. We need an understanding of economic activity that reflects its complexity and is centered on the long-term well-being of humans and the rest of the planet."

You can read the piece 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.

Announcing the 2020 WE Empower UN SDG Challenge Awardees

July 22, 2020

WE Empower Challenge LogoThe Global Business Challenge honors women who are advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and inspiring entire communities to act to create the world we want by 2030

The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge – a global business challenge led in partnership by Vital Voices Global Partnership and Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at ASU – today announced the six social entrepreneurs selected as their 2020 Awardees.

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Global Futures Laboratory, Foreign Policy bring together global experts to discuss links between COVID-19 and climate

July 2, 2020

On Tuesday, Arizona State University’s Global Futures Laboratory, in partnership with Foreign Policy, convened a panel of leading global thinkers to discuss the surprising but powerful links among the coronavirus, climate change and inclusive governance.

“Scientists warn, COVID-19 is not a black swan event. Rather, as astrophysicist Adam Frank has pointed out, it’s a ‘fire drill’ for climate change,” explained Amanda Ellis, director of global partnerships at ASU Global Futures Laboratory. “We need to build back better and create a new normal to keep our planet habitable. To do that, we must call out the failures of global governance and the inconsistencies of national governments.”

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Societies in conflict

Medium | June 5, 2020

In the latest thought leader piece from the Global Futures Laboratory, "Societies in Conflict," Craig Calhoun — University Professor of Social Sciences in the School of Sustainability — draws parallels between recent racial justice protests in the United States and 1989 protests for democratic freedoms in Tiananmen Square, China.

You can read the piece 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.

Societal planetary boundaries: When global society endangers the future of our planet

Medium | May 8, 2020

people walking in crowdIn the latest thought leader piece from the Global Futures Laboratory, "Societal Planetary Boundaries: When Global Society Endangers the Future of Our Planet," Sander van der Leeuw, Manfred Laubichler and Peter Schlosser discuss the unstable state of our global societal systems and how we can change. "We are challenged to find and establish a completely new structure for current societal dynamics, and to do so within the Environmental and Societal Planetary Boundaries," the authors write.

You can read the piece 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.