ASHLAND — What's in a name? Plenty, if you are affiliated with the National Center for Conservation Science & Policy based in Ashland.

ASHLAND — What's in a name? Plenty, if you are affiliated with the National Center for Conservation Science & Policy based in Ashland.

The center with the multi-syllabic moniker has shortened its name to the Geos Institute to better reflect its focus on climate change.

"Climate change is not an environmental issue," explained executive director Tonya Graham. "It is a social, economic and ecological issue that will impact the very fabric of human communities throughout the nation and around the world. We need to act now for our children's benefit while there is still time."

Board chairman Ken Crocker noted that "Geos" is Greek for Earth.

"The word speaks to our commitment to ensuring that societal response to climate change creates real solutions that protect people, wildlife and the ecosystems that sustain them both," he said. "Institute refers to the organization's calling card as science-based."

The mission of the 10-person organization is to use science to help people predict, reduce and prepare for climate change, according to the board.

The organization intends to raise $2 million in 2011 from philanthropic donations in support of two primary programs focused on preparing for and reducing climate change.

The programs, including ClimateWise, are intended to develop science-based solutions that help local communities prepare now for climate change while there are cost-effective and viable options. The institute also plans to develop forest and watershed policies to help reduce climate change impacts by using old forests to absorb and store greenhouse pollution while protecting freshwater sources.

Forest ecologist Dominick DellaSala, the institute's president and chief scientist, said picking the organization's new name was tougher than naming his daughter.

"But we now have a name that fits our mission and the enormous challenges of maintaining a healthy planet," he said. "Our nation's mature and old-growth forests and wild rivers are critical to climate change insurance because they cleanse the air we breathe and purify the water we drink.

"This is why restoring and protecting them is important for leaving the next generation with replenished biological inheritance, as they will be facing a much bigger crisis unless we act now," he added.

For more information on climate change and the organization, check out www.geosinstitute.org.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.