The University of Arizona is hosting a week-long series of events about sustainability, starting this Wednesday, October 24, and going through next Wednesday, October 31. This is in conjunction with the Educating for Sustainability Conference, which is happening on the U of A campus from October 25-27. It should be an interesting week! I’m especially excited to hear Jonathan Overpeck (who is a member of the IPCC, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore) speak on Thursday night, and to hear Gary Nabhan speak on Friday night. Both of their lectures are free and open to the public. I’m going to try to make it to as many of the other events as I can, and will report back on anything interesting I see or hear.

Update: Well, we didn’t end up making it to many of the events during the UA Sustainability Week, but we did catch Gary Nabhan’s talk on Friday night. He gave a great presentation on “sustainability”, a concept he said he prefers to think of as a verb (rather than a noun) to indicate its nature as an ongoing process, rather than a hypothetical endpoint. I think this is a great point, and worth keeping in mind. We thoroughly enjoyed his talk and thought it was very inspiring.

I also heard Jonathan Overpeck speak on Monday about global warming (this was separate from his talk on Thursday). He gave an interesting and informative talk about recent data on climate change, with a partial emphasis on drought in the western U.S. I was already somewhat familiar with most of what he talked about, but it was great to hear it from someone actually involved in much of the research (if it can be “great” to hear such scary and depressing information). Apparently the current prediction for the Southwest is a 10% drop in average winter precipitation by the end of the century (if I’m remembering the timeframe correctly), though it’s completely unclear what will happen to our monsoon rainfall. In terms of temperature, one of his graphs seemed to suggest the possibility of a roughly 10° F increase in average temperature for southern Arizona by 2100. It’s going to get interesting around here…