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ASU, partners announce completion of Allen Coral Atlas mapping

September 9, 2021

Allen Coral Atlas sample mapping mageArizona State University alongside atlas founding partners at Vulcan Inc., National Geographic, Planet and the University of Queensland presented to the world a complete projection of the planet's coral ecosystems. The Allen Coral Atlas, named for the late Vulcan founder and celebrated philanthropist and entrepreneur Paul Allen, allows formal scientists, conservationists, policy makers and citizen scientists to fully explore the world's coral reefs and see in real time how oceanic warming causes bleaching or allows for rehabilitation.

“Our biggest contribution in this achievement is that we have a uniform mapping of the entire coral reef biome,” said Greg Asner, managing director of the Atlas and director of ASU’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation. “If you don’t know what you’ve got more uniformly, how would the U.N. ever play a real role? How would a government that has an archipelago with 500 islands make a uniform decision? (The atlas) lets us bring the playing field up to a level where decisions can be made at a bigger scale because so far decisions have been super localized.”

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New paper positions waste pickers as models of environmental stewards for circular economy

August 27, 2021

Waster picker collecting plasticA new paper published by a team from the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service that includes College of Global Futures associate professor Rimjhim Aggarwal examines the culture and economy of waste pickers. In the paper, published Aug. 10 in Sustainability, the authors demonstrate that waste pickers, typically part of extreme poverty communities based on or around landfills, have the potential to act as environmental stewards by mitigating the effects of waste, contributing to the resilience of urban systems, reducing greenhouse gas emissions through recovery of materials from waste streams and saving energy and preserving natural resources by enabling recycling and reuse.

"They play critical roles in waste management, but their full potential to contribute to the circular economy remains unrealized due to their marginalized social status, lack of recognition by authorities, and disconnection from the formal economy. Additionally, they face significant occupational hazards and social exclusion, and their livelihoods are at risk of being displaced by private-sector-led waste management approaches."

The paper was co-authored by Raj Buch, Alicia Marseille, Matthew Williams, Rimjhim Aggarwal and Aparna Sharma. Read the full report.

Dave White selected as Southwest chapter lead author for National Climate Assessment

August 23, 2021

Dave WhiteDave White, deputy director of Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation and professor in the School of Community Resources and Development, has been tapped by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to represent the Southwest region as chapter lead author for the Fifth U.S. National Climate Assessment. White previously served as co-author for the complex systems chapter for the Fourth U.S. National Climate Assessment, published in 2018.

“I am honored to step into the lead author role for NCA5 for the Southwest, and I look forward to building an author team that represents the true diversity of our region,” White said. “Our primary goal is to develop actionable knowledge to address the climate crisis.”

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'Code-Red' megadrought is the Southwest's latest demand for collaborative innovation, says Dave White in Washington Post

August 23, 2021

Colorado River and Lake Mead low water levelsThe Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation's deputy director, Dave White, was featured in the Washington Post on Aug. 18 with his opinion piece on the US Bureau of Reclaimation's recent report on a record low water level for both the Colorado River and Lake Mead. In his opinion, White asserts that "nothing less than a water 'moonshot'" will be the only way forward to ensure that the needs of industry, agriculture and residents will be met.

"Debates over water rights and water usage are often emotional because people’s lives and livelihoods depend on this basic component of our existence. Solving the problem will demand unprecedented cooperation among competing parties, rapid technological innovation and thoughtful public engagement."

Read the full opinion.

A response to the Working Group 1 contribution to the IPCC 6th Assessment Report

August 14, 2021

Changing, by Alisa Singer (2021)The first working group’s contribution to the 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “The Physical Science Basis” released on August 9, comes at a moment when our planet is experiencing multiple crises, some of which directly highlight the key findings of the report. To avoid additional, more extreme events, we no longer have decades to make choices to change what we can and should do to mitigate climate change – we must act now and act more boldly than previously envisioned in any of the current commitments.

The negative impacts of human activities on our planet affect not only the climate system but also social and environmental systems including water, energy, food, economies and public health. There is a high level of interconnectivity between these systems as well as between all environmental and societal systems, the ultimate drivers of change on our planet. We have outgrown the capacity of our planet to sustain “business as usual.” In other words, global society is asking our planet to give more than it has to offer. Unless we dramatically change our ways to more equitable and environmentally conscious ways we face a future in which life will be forced to severely adapt through sacrifice or planetary self regulation.

Yet, we do still face a future of hope. As we have seen with the COVID pandemic, an intersection of science, policy, humanities and resources guided by principles of equity, inclusivity and justice can drive unprecedented response and solutions at record speed. The challenge, with COVID and climate change, is to translate these solutions into meaningful and just collective action.

This idea — the opportunity of human action to positively and impactfully help shape our global future to ensure a habitable planet for all — is at the very essence of the work being done by more than 600 scientists and scholars here at Arizona State University. This is how the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory is shaping tomorrow, today.

Read our full response.

Global Futures faculty join international team to examine how extreme events can be future indicators

July 30, 2021

Arizona wildfire caused by lightningTwo ASU faculty affiliated with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Michael Barton and Sander van der Leeuw, joined an international panel of 31 natural and social scientists to write a newly published article in Nature Geoscience that investigates abrupt shifts in the Earth's past and how they can be used to predict the future.

The article, Past abrupt changes, tipping points and cascading impacts in the Earth system, was published today an made available with open access by Nature Geoscience.

"We are increasingly concerned about the potential for abrupt changes resulting from human impacts in coming decades," said Barton, director of education and professor at the School of Complex Adaptive Systems. "Equally important, however, are societal dynamics that can make seemingly resilient human systems vulnerable to abrupt economic or political change--or even collapse--from otherwise manageable environmental fluctuations. Study of past socio-environmental tipping points can give us important insights needed to plan for future ones."

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Five women entrepreneurs named awardees for the 2021 WE Empower UN SDG Challenge

July 15, 2021

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 five social entrepreneurs selected as their 2021 Awardees.

The five 2021 WE Empower Awardees are:

• Olufunto Boroffice, Founder and CEO, Chanja Datti Ltd (Nigeria)

• Nidhi Pant, Co-Founder and Head of Finance and Partnerships, S4S Technologies (India)

• Sara Saeed, Co-Founder and CEO, Sehat Kahani (Pakistan)

• Panmela Castro, Founder and CEO, Panmela Castro Arte e Cultura and Rede Nami (Brazil)

• Aline Sara, Co-founder and CEO, NaTakallam (United States)

Each entrepreneur was selected on the basis that they lead an enterprise committed to advancing one or more of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and leverage their businesses to push for progress in their communities.

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Swette Center report sets organic food agenda for US

July 2, 2021

The ASU Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems recently released a report to help President Joe Biden set a new agriculture agenda based to organic foods. "The Critical To-Do List for Organic Agriculture: Recommendations for the President" is outlined with 46 recommendations for the current administration and Congress to use as a framework for food development and safety as well as its impacts on climate change, research, supply chain, animal welfare standards, racial justice, social equity and enforcement.

"In our report, we establish a baseline of support that USDA should provide the organic sector — 6% of whatever dollars are being distributed," said Kathleen Merrigan, Swette Center executive director and Kelly and Brian Swette Professor of Practice in Sustainable Food Systems. "We chose this number because 6% of food purchased in the U.S. today is organic. We argue that support for the organic sector should, at minimum, be commensurate with its market share."

Learn more about the center's approach to developing these recommendations and some information behind the numbers in this exclusive interview with Merrigan on ASU News.

Peter Schlosser named chair of AGU Development Board

May 6, 2021

AGU logoASU vice president and vice provost of Global Futures, Peter Schlosser, was recently named as chair of the Development Board for the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Joining Schlosser on the board as new members are John Podesta, former advisor to presidents Obama and Clinton and founder and Chair of the Board of Directors for the think tank Center for American Progress, and Tong Zhu, Dean of College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at Peking University. They join a board dedicated to a membership of 130,000 members, from ethusiasts to experts from around the world, focused on Earth and space sciences.

In his introductory address to the AGU membership, Schlosser, who was first appointed to the AGU board in 2015 and recognizes AGU as the first scientific organization he joined, said, "I was trained as a physicist and used measurements of isotopes and trace substances to better understand the hydrosphere, air/sea gas exchange and continental paleoclimate. Thus, AGU was a natural choice as its broad scope in Earth and Space Science covered my interests in a way no other professional society did."

Learn more about Schlosser's appointment and the AGU.

Greg Asner, Haunani Kane discuss coral reefs, indigenous knowledges and role of youth for Earth Day Celebration

April 24, 2021

ASU Global Futures Laboratory celebrates the 52nd Earth DayTwo of the planet's leading ocean biologists, Greg Asner and Haunani Kane from the Global Futures Laboratory's Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, joined ASU vice president and vice provost for Global Futures, Peter Schlosser, for an extensive conversation as part of a celebration of the 52nd annual Earth Day. In addition to providing a glimpse into one of the center's newest tools, the Allen Coral Atlas, Asner and Kane spoke extensively about the importance of indigenous perspectives and knowledge in understanding the greater biodynamics of our oceans' biomes such as coral reefs.

"I think a lot of my experiences on the canoe (as navigator with the Polynesian Voyaging Society) allowed me to develop a relationship with my work as a scientist," said Kane, who joined ASU as an assistant professor and researcher this year. "Coming upon an island and seeing the island first by the color of the clouds, the reflection of the lagoon and then the tips of the coconut trees, and then spending time with the people there, it really helped me to shape my understanding of how islands and reef island systems are impacted by changes in climate."

Watch the entire conversation.

ASU recognized as nation's most impactful for second straight year

April 24, 2021

ASU is #1 in teh US for global impact.With sustainability long held as a core value across the entire university and home to the nation's first comprehensive Global Futures Laboratory, ASU was again ranked by Time Higher Education as the top US institution when it comes impacts made addressing 17 specific goals aimed at achieving a better world for 2030, known as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ASU also retained a top-ten international ranking, tied at #9 with last year's top ranked-institution globally, University of Auckland in New Zealand.

ASU scored a total of 95.8 points out of 100, with highest scores pertaining to goals for Sustainable Cities and Communities (93.4, second overall globally); Responsible Consumption and Production (89.7, fourth); Eradicating Poverty (87.1, third); Clean Sanitation and Water (82.3, fifth); Climate Action (81.8, fourth); and Life Below Water (89.5, seventh). Each SDG includes a set of targets and indicators designed by the United Nations and adopted in 2015 to provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.

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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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