Climate Appraisal Services, LLC, an innovative partnership between scientists at The University of Arizona and the company's founder, will offer low-cost assessments of climate and environmental risks for any address in the continental United States.
The partnership was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents.
Climate Appraisal Services, LLC (http://www.climateappraisal.com) is the nation's first online, address-based climate-and-environmental-risk reporting service.
UA geoscientist Jonathan T. Overpeck said he did in-depth research before purchasing his current Tucson house in the late 1990s.
"When I bought my house, I did all the research myself on the Web. It took me weeks -- and I didn't find all the information we now provide through CASL," said Overpeck, lead science advisor for CASL and director of The University of Arizona's Institute for the Study of Planet Earth.
"This is one-stop shopping for this kind of information. We provide it with the click of a mouse."
CASL charges $30 for a premium environmental risk assessment for a particular address. The company's Web site also provides free educational material about climate change and a free report that focuses on shoreline reduction at a national level.
The address-based premium report contains information on the possible impacts of global warming, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, drought, floods, industrial pollution and disease. The analysis combines historical data and state-of-the-art forecasting science.
One of the company's missions is to increase public understanding of climate change and other environmental issues. Therefore, 50 percent of CASL's net profits will fund environmental research. CASL will make the resulting information available for non-commercial uses.
"The education aspects of the model are important to all of us, and the scientific research give-back is very important," said CASL founder and chief executive officer David H. Purcell.
Overpeck, a UA professor of geosciences and of atmospheric sciences; Susan L. Beck, a UA department head and professor of geosciences; and Andrew Comrie, a UA professor of geography and regional development, are non-salaried partners, board members and the science advisors comprising the Scientific Advisory Committee for Climate Appraisal Services, LLC. The scientists have equity interest in the company.
The four see the venture as a way to educate people about climate change and environmental issues, while simultaneously providing them with information they need to assess risks to individual pieces of property.
"Sea-level rise and shoreline reduction is only part of the climate change story. New studies also point to the likelihood of more intense hurricanes, a worsening wildfire season in many locations, and greater drought-related climate impacts," Overpeck said. "Climate Appraisal Services represents an innovative new way to get important environmental science communicated to the public."
Entrepreneur Purcell got the idea for CASL in the spring of 2006 when he saw post-climate-change sea-level maps that Overpeck and UA geoscientist Jeremy Weiss had created.
Purcell and his wife had been discussing buying the beach-front home his wife had always longed for.
However, contemplating how sea-level rise would affect coastlines made the former banker re-consider such a move. He wanted to learn more about how climate-change-driven changes in shorelines would affect the value of shoreline homes.
His search gave him some new ideas.
"I was looking for the top scientists in climate change," Purcell said. "I had a business model concept, and it required scientists' involvement to bring it to life."
Purcell sought out Overpeck.
Overpeck, on sabbatical in the Colorado Rockies, was focused on writing a book on climate change, not on pursuing business ventures.
Purcell offered to fly from Connecticut to Colorado so the two could talk face-to-face for one-half hour.
At the meeting, Purcell arrived carrying an apple pie from Silverman's Farm in Easton, Conn. -- a bakery Overpeck's family had frequented.
"I live in Easton, Connecticut, and Peck grew up on Easton Road in Westport," Purcell said. He guessed that Overpeck's family had bought pies at the well-known bakery.
The two met at the public library in Telluride, Colo. One-half hour stretched to three -- and CASL was born.
The two agreed that CASL's primary mission would be to advance the public's understanding of climate change and environmental science. Overpeck said, "When he first came to me, he was really pushing the idea that we could make a real difference by bringing our information to the 'home' level."
That appealed to Overpeck, who was searching for new ways to inform the general public about the risks of climate-related environmental change and motivate people to take their own actions to mitigate it. He recruited Beck and Comrie. Beck specializes in seismology, tectonics and geological hazards, and Comrie specializes in air quality science, climatology and climate and health.
Overpeck said, "Now people can have much the same information the insurance companies have when they assess the risks of a property."
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