According to Senior Global Futures Scientist Osvaldo Sala and his co-author David Eldridge, professor in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales, Australia’s commitment to climate change abatement is not supported by scientific evidence, which shows that increasing — not decreasing — grazing leads to more trees and shrubs. Australia should replace efforts to reduce grazing with effective methods of sequestering carbon.
Despite inaccurate media portrayals of sprawling, uninhabited areas, rangelands are home to 30% of our planet’s human population and 50% of the world's livestock — making them indispensable for livelihoods and food security. However, global conversations about conservation and climate change often do not mention these landscapes.
Osvaldo Sala, Regents Professor and director of the Global Drylands Center at Arizona State University, hopes to change that.
Sala recently co-authored a paper titled "Supplying Ecosystem Services on US Rangelands" that sheds light on the potential crossroads facing these ecosystems as they are confronted with evolving environmental and societal changes. The paper was published in the research journal Nature Sustainability.
Arizona State University Regents Professor Ferran Garcia-Pichel was recently awarded the 2023 Theodore M. Sperry Award from the Society for Ecological Restoration during its world congress in Darwin, Australia.
The Sperry Award acknowledges individuals or institutions who have made substantial contributions to advancing the science or techniques used in restoration practice. In this Garcia-Pichel's case, the award was bestowed “for his innovative research into the role of microbiology in ecological restoration."
Starbucks and Arizona State University have a long-standing partnership to build educational and innovative programming. This partnership will expand to Central America to develop a new sustainability learning and innovation lab at Hacienda Alsacia — the company’s global agronomy headquarters for research and development, located in Costa Rica. ASU will work with Starbucks beginning this fall to offer educational programming for select ASU students and Starbucks partners. The first wave at the farm will include study abroad opportunities for students tied to existing ASU degree programs such as sustainability, sustainable food systems, global agribusiness and environmental and resource management. The Starbucks lab is expected to physically open within the next three years. The lab will serve as a hub for hands-on and virtual learning opportunities for Starbucks partners (employees), students, researchers and industry leaders. They will work to innovate and scale sustainable solutions for some of the world’s most challenging environmental and social issues, including climate adaption and agricultural economics.
High school students interested in conservation and sustainability found professional development and learning experiences through GirlsConserve, a program focused on fostering the growth of environmentally conscious, empathetic and collaborative future leaders.
GirlsConserve was created partly in response to the lack of representation of diverse women in the science, engineering, technology and math fields. Leah Gerber, director of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and Kimberly Scott, founding executive director of the Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology and professor at the School of Social Transformation, have been working together to address this issue since 2015.
Osvaldo Sala of Arizona State University, Tempe partnered with Richard Phillips from the University of Indiana, Bloomington and Melinda Smith of Colorado State University to tackle the intersection of climate change and applied drought studies, presenting findings at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Montreal. Science recently published an article on this study and its impact.
“Out of crisis, it is incumbent upon us to create something better…something more resilient.” Secretary Tom Vilsak, United States Department of Agriculture
Featuring 26 speakers and over 200 Arizonans in attendance – nearly 140 in person – the Arizona Department of Agriculture and ASU Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems co-hosted the 4th annual Arizona Food Summit at ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium San Tan Ford Club March 23 and 24 for two days of information sharing and discussion on how best to move forward on creating a sustainable, healthy food system for all Arizonans. You can click here to watch the recordings of the full event.
The days were packed with speakers from across the food system spectrum. The event opened with US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. Secretary Vilsack emphasized the need to link food security with nutrition security and to better translate science to help people make informed choices. Vilsack further challenged Arizonans to engage, to bring young people into agriculture and food work, to support our local farmers, and attend to nutrition security.
Two proposals headed by the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes leadership were announced as grant finalists for ASU Women and Philanthropy, an organization comprised of women committed to becoming advocates and philanthropic supporters of the university. The proposal presentations took place at the Musical Instrument Museum on Feb. 23.
Designing a public engagement strategy to support the establishment of an effective and equitable US National Biodiversity Strategy was led by Center for Biodiversity Outcomes founding director Leah Gerber, in conjunction with the center program leads. This proposal focuses on how we can more effectively tackle the biodiversity crisis in the U.S. through an inclusive community-led approach leading up to developing a stakeholder engagement strategy for an NBS in the US.
GirlsConserve: Engaging girls in STEM careers using a culturally relevant One Health approach was led by the center's assistant director Gwen Iacona, in collaboration with the ASU Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology (CGEST). GirlsConserve centers around the development of a culturally responsive curriculum for a high school summer camp and mentoring program, focusing on engaging girls in STEM and conservation by following the highly successful model of CGEST’s preexisting program CompuGirls.
The business sector's premier annual sustainablility conference, GreenBiz 2022, returned to the Valley of the Sun in Scottsdale this February. The ASU Center of Biodiversity Ooutcome’s founding director, Leah Gerber, was invited to sit on a panel titled "Teaming Up To Tackle Plastic Waste: How Cross-Industry Partnerships Can Ignite Long-Lasting Change", which also included Chairman of SC Johnson, Fisk Johnson, and Senior Director of Facilities for the Milwaukee Brewers, Mike Brockman. Moderated by Chris Coulter, CEO of GlobeScan, the panel focused on addressing plastic waste and the disrupting impact it has on our ecosystems.
In bringing the panel together, GreenBiz highlighted the importance of forming partnerships to tackle plastic waste through innovating solutions to positively impact generations to come. It also addressed how the sports industry is working with companies to adapt to the waste crisis and incorporate various recycling models. GreenBiz is centered around bringing together business, technology, and sustainability with the goal of a clean economy. More than a thousand sustainability leaders were registered for the GreenBiz yearly forum.
Gerber spoke about the mission of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes. She was able to share her knowledge on how businesses can explore opportunities within universities to solve sustainability crises. Plastic waste can threaten the survival of key species and pollute important ecosystems and habitats to further negative impacts on these species. Gerber elaborated on how crucial finding solutions to the plastics crisis is about biodiversity conservation.
CBO conducts research, such as finding regions that are most at risk and pinpointing where the most impactful reduction of plastics could be. They also partner with government, corporate and corporate-facing institutions solutions to provide solutions that can help lower the plastic footprint.
In cultivating partnerships between academia and larger corporations, specific solutions can be found to address the plastics crisis one step at a time.
Faculty and researchers from the ASU Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, teaming with partners from the University of Hawaii, recently published a paper based on their survey of 29 sunked warships around the Bikini Atoll and Chuuk Lagoon in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Until these explorations, it was unknown if the hulls of the ships would sustain the development of biodiversity habitats based on ship size and hull material, location relative to natural reef, time since sinking, ocean currents and water depth. According to this study's findings, the team identified more than 9,100 types of corals that represented around 70 percent of the corals found in the natural reefs in the area. The team determined that ship length, but not water depth, positively correlated with relative abundance and richness at the genus level, meaning that very large wrecks can serve as havens for reef-building corals with a broad genetic diversity. Read more.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals, has elected two outstanding faculty from the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory to the newest class of AAAS Fellows, among the most distinct honors within the scientific community. Additionally, Sara Brownell, who has an appointment with the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, also was elected.
Klaus Lackner, director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions and a pioneer in the carbon capture research space, has been named to Newsweek's Hall of Fame for America's Greatest Distruptors. In a special edition published Dec. 15, Lackner was one of five initial innovators tapped to receive this honor, each recognized by the publication as "Visionaries whose career-long actions have had far-reaching impact."
Lackner, who in also is a professor with the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, was the first person to suggest the artificial capture of carbon dioxide from air in the context of carbon management. His work in this space has led to a partnership between ASU, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and the private corporation Carbon Collect to manufacture and deploy the Mechanical Tree, a passive energy carbon collection system. The first Mechanical Tree will be installed for testing at ASU's Tempe campus in early 2022. The research by Lackner and his team has also been recognized by Discover Magazine Discover as one of seven ideas that could change the world.
Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the center will support research into how Pacific Island communities can build resilience to extreme climate events
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced a five-year, $6.36 million research grant that will launch the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) program as a research center at ASU within the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory. This partnership with ASU is the next step in an ongoing effort of the Pacific RISA initiative to support communities in the Pacific region in becoming more resilient to the effects of climate change. The team will expand their research, advocacy and action from their home base on the Island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, leveraging support from the East-West Center, the University of Hawaiʻi Water Resources Research Center, various other stakeholders and now ASU, to address the most pressing regional and community-specific climate challenges.
HUE and the City of Tempe unveiled a new project that will not only serve as a place of shelter from the brutal summer heat in the Valley of the Sun, but offer a place for the unhoused community to connect to resources. The mobile cooling trailer was made possible through the generous donation of local philanthropists, Jenny Norton and Bob Ramsey, and will be staffed by the city’s Homeless Outreach Prevention Effort (HOPE) team.
Plastic pollution in the oceans is one of the biggest issues we face as a planet.
To identify potential solutions, members of the Conservation Innovation Lab, including PhD student Erin Murphy and CBO founding director Leah Gerber, recently published “A decision framework for estimating the cost of marine plastic pollution interventions”, in Conservation Biology. The paper, published with members of the Plastic Pollution Emissions Working Group, presents a framework for evaluating the net cost of marine plastic pollution interventions. The researchers also applied the framework to two quantitative case studies and four qualitative case studies to explore how context of implementation influenced net costs.
To address the complex ecological, economic and sociopolitical challenges predicated by the rapidly expanding use of mined phosphorus in agriculture, the National Science Foundation has announced the creation of a major new research center.
The Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center brings together an interdisciplinary team of experts to pursue a “25-in-25” vision. They are seeking to reduce human dependence on mined phosphorus by 25% and also to reduce current losses of phosphorus to soil and water resources by 25% within the next 25 years.
Funded by an initial five-year, $25 million grant and headquartered at North Carolina State University, the STEPS Center involves faculty, staff and students from eight other partner institutions across the country, including ASU.
Join the UREx SRN via Zoom on September 22, 2021, 2pm - 3:30pm Arizona time, for a roundtable discussion and launch of Resilient Urban Futures, a new book exploring the ways in which cities are profoundly impacted by climate change, and strategies for cultivating more resilient futures.
Based on practical experience in participatory visioning in nine Latin American and U.S. cities, the volume provides tools for engaging urban communities in resilience strategies. Authors of this open access volume will discuss urban climate inequity, modeling and communicating the impact of extreme climate and weather, as well as visioning equitable, positive, and resilient futures.
Urban Resilience to Extremes SRN's monthly podcast, Future Cities, has been awarded the Ecological Society of America's "Science Communication in Practice Award." This award is given to ESA members who represent excellence in public engagement and science communication.
Future Cities aims to increase awareness of, and to catalyze action on, urban resilience. The show examines this topic by discussing ongoing research, highlighting current efforts, and sharing stories of resilience in cities across the world. By exploring a wide variety of perspectives, the show digs deep into understanding the many dimensions of resilience and the ways in which cities prepare themselves for the extreme weather events of tomorrow.
The podcast, recently added to NSF's Science Zone Radio, has been downloaded about 15k times in the last year (from listeners across the world), reaching #77 on Apple’s "US Life Sciences Podcast" chart over the summer. Visit the UREx website for more details.
Established by the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the USGCRP is, as stated by their website, “a federal program mandated by Congress to coordinate federal research and investments in understanding the forces shaping the global environment, both human and natural, and their impacts on society.” Every ten years, the 13 different agencies that make up the USGCRP, including NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation, develop a strategic plan to help people understand the effects of global change on society.
As a leading ecologist in global change research, Osvaldo Sala has been recognized and nominated as a member of the NASEM Committee that convenes to advise the USGCRP in developing its strategic plan. The committee is composed of 28 experts from across the country representing an array of sectors and disciplines spanning the sciences, engineering, and medicine. It is a forum for interaction between the USGCRP and the relevant scientific communities and other interested parties. The committee also helps to identify issues of importance for the global change research community. In addition to assistance with the strategic plan, the NASEM Committee will also help USGCRP as they produce the 5th National Climate Assessment (NCA5), which is a report submitted to the President and Congress every four years.
The mission of the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience is to support Maricopa County, Arizona by sharing knowledge, catalyzing discovery, and exchanging responses to challenges together, in order to build community resilience. Through its 12-month fellowship program, representatives from both the community and university come together to share knowledge, discover gaps or opportunities, and respond to challenges. Fellows conduct individual and collaborative research, meeting weekly for six months, then monthly for the fellowship's remainder. Approximately twelve fellows will be chosen for the 2022 cohort.
Successful academic fellow applicants may be tenure-track or non-tenure-track professors at any level (assistant, associate, or full), scholars with instructor or research appointments, or post-doctoral research associates in any discipline. Eligible applicants may be affiliated with any department, school, or research center across all Arizona State University campuses in Maricopa County.
Applications are due October 15, 2021. Learn more.