Your primary source of information for news from and about the University of Arizona.

April 12, 2022

UArizona experts available for Earth Day

TUCSON, Ariz. – Earth Day, celebrated April 22, marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. The theme this year, according to global organizers, is "Invest in Our Planet."

But what exactly does that mean?

"To me, it means making decisions today with an eye toward the environmental impacts of tomorrow," said Derek Lemoine, an associate professor in the Department of Economics in the University of Arizona Eller College of Management.

Lemoine's research focuses on measuring the cost of climate change and developing policy frameworks to more efficiently mitigate climate change. He says one possible strategy would be to make all prices reflect the cost of using the planet's resources, rather than allowing the use of those resources nearly for free. For example, it currently doesn't cost anything to pump carbon dioxide – which contributes to climbing global temperatures and a changing climate – into the atmosphere.

"Economics is at the heart of the climate change problem, both for determining how climate change affects people and for how we can best control climate change," Lemoine said. "We have markets that work for us to help us make decisions throughout the day. We ask ourselves if our perceived value for a certain product or service is worth its price. Your whole carbon footprint is basically unpriced. If it's eventually priced, the market can decide if it's right."

The following UArizona experts are available to speak about various topics for Earth Day:

Derek Lemoine, associate professor in the Department of Economics, explores, among other topics, how environmental and economic uncertainties and the interaction between energy systems and innovation should affect the design of climate change policy. His recent research shows how to learn about the cost of climate change from weather impacts, how to use financial markets to value forecasts of El Niño events and winter weather, and how to incentivize carbon removal technologies.

Carlos Alsua, professor of practice in the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, is interested in transportation and sustainable food industries. His research focuses on globalization and local processes, global entrepreneurship and innovation, leadership innovation, growth mindset, global ethics and the implementation of managerial practices and entrepreneurship in developing economies.

Paul Blowers is a distinguished professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. He studies how choices – regardless of whether they are made at a company, factory or household – impact the environment. He uses quantum chemistry techniques to identify compounds that may be greenhouse gases before they are even manufactured. He combines this information with his engineering skills to do calculations to explore whether banning potential greenhouse gases in different uses – such as refrigerants, solvents or other areas – would lead to unintended consequences. 

Andrea Achilli, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, is an expert in advanced water treatment methods for desalination and water reuse and resource recovery from water and wastewater. He also researches process integration, modeling and optimization, and biological processes for water and wastewater treatments.

Sabrina Helm, associate professor of retail and consumer sciences, studies the interfaces between climate change, consumer behavior and marketing. She also studies the psychological effects of climate change and approaches to climate change education in higher education.

Kathy Jacobs, director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions, has expertise in water policy, the use of climate information for water management, climate change adaptation and drought planning. She has been working to build the Arizona Institute for Resilient Environments and Societies, which helps work on climate solutions for the planet.

Trevor Ledbetter is director of the Office of Sustainability and provides strategic leadership and direction for the university's sustainability goals and initiatives. He also serves as a member of Tucson Mayor Regina Romero's Climate Action Advisory Council, which supports the development and implementation of a 10-year Climate Action and Adaptation Plan for the city of Tucson.

Zack Guido is an assistant research professor in the Arizona Institute for Resilience Environments and Society and the School of Natural Resources and Environment. His research focuses on social and environmental resilience in developing countries. He studies climate impacts and food systems, how people adapt to and cope with environmental stressors, and the role of weather and climate information in decision making.

Holly Thomas-Hilburn, director of Arizona Project WET,  teaches adults – including K-12 teachers, UArizona students who work with the project as "water educators," and hundreds of volunteers – how to better engage K-12 students in science and help them feel a connection to the natural world. She believes that students who have a greater understanding of natural systems will be prepared to be the decisions makers of the future. Arizona Project WET's Recharge the Rain initiative engages teachers and students in rainwater harvesting.

# # #

Media contact:
Mikayla Mace Kelley
University Communications

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 50 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2020 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $761 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 66 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.

The University of Arizona Land Acknowledgement


Institute of the Environment