Message from the Director, Mark Lubell
The mission of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior (CEPB) is scientific analysis of the interactions among policy institutions, human behavior, and political decisions in the context of environmental and natural resource conflicts. Through developing and testing theoretical models from social science, CEPB seeks to derive practical lessons that can be used to improve environmental policy.
Lines up to four hours. Piles of garbage and human waste. Dead bodies by the side of the route. Fights between climbing groups. Welcome to Mt. Everest in 2013, and a tragedy of the commons at the top of the world.
A recent article by National Geographic highlights the increasing crowds and environmental problems on Everest. I've never climbed Everest(and don't plan to...), and I'm betting that Elinor Ostrom and Garret Hardin have not climbed there either. But Everest highlights core issues in environmental governance that they would surely recognize.
Two recent media articles have highlighted the climate change and agriculture project in New Zealand. Today the New Zealand Dominion Post- a Wellington, policy-oriented newspaper, published an article titled, "Rules Worry More than Droughts-Study", highlighting survey results from the Hawke's Bay and Marlborough New Zealand studies. The research found, in part, that New Zealand farmers, just like California farmers, are most concerned about climate related risks from government regulations and economic impacts than biophysical impacts related to water and temperature. Yesterday, Radio New Zealand ran a radio interview with Meredith Niles, the PhD student conducting the research study.
http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ruralnews/audio/2557676/mid... (Interview begins at 2:20)
New Policy Briefs Highlight Existing and Future Farmer Practices to Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change
Today the Center is pleased to release two new policy briefs from the Agriculture and Climate Change Project. The briefs focus on understanding the climate change adaptation and mitigation practices that farmers in New Zealand have already adopted and are likely to adopt in the future. The data comes from a series of interviews and a telephone survey conducted in Hawke's Bay and Marlborough, New Zealand in the Autumn of 2012.
We're in the middle of the climate-smart agriculture conference here at UC Davis, which is the third of a series of international conferences focused on how agriculture will adapt to climate change. I have met fascinating people from all over the world involved in important research and on-the-ground actions. It has been gratifying to see lots of people mentioning the importance of social science analysis of decision-making, policy and governance. In the spirit of the conference, I thought I might ask my six-year old son about water and farming. The conversation was enlightening to some of the themes of the conference:
Me: If you were a farmer growing crops with rain, what would you do if the rain stopped?
Son: I would take a bunch of watering cans and fill them up and use them on the plants.
Me: Where would you get the water for the watering cans?
Today the Center is releasing two new policy briefs outlining the first key details in the New Zealand Climate Change and Agriculture project. The study involved a series of interviews with farmers, agricultural industry professionals and local policymakers as well as a survey of farmers in the Hawkes Bay and Marlborough regions of New Zealand between July-October 2012.
Initial results suggest some clear similarities between New Zealand farmers and California farmers (as reported earlier). For example, in Hawkes Bay and Marlborough, New Zealand 51% and 53% of farmers respectively believe the global climate is changing. In California, 54% of farmers agreed with this statement. As well, there are similar patterns for the role of humans in climate change- 37% in Hawkes Bay and 45% in Marlborough agree that humans have a role in climate change; in California this number was 35%.
How should we spend our climate dollar: mitigation or adaptation?
Well, the climate change bad news continues to roll in. The Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii has recorded another large rise in CO2 emissions, raising the total to 395ppm. A new peer reviewed analysis suggests that Annex I countries (the developed countries who are party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change)would have to reduce their emissions levels to 50% below 1990 levels by 2020, to have a medium chance to keep warming at only 2 degrees centigrade.
For the past week, I’ve been helping to facilitate a workshop on the use of remote sensing for climate change adaptation in East Africa. The workshop is actually part of a NASA and USAID research fellowship program for university students from all over eastern and southern Africa, who are carrying out projects on climate change dimensions of food security, flood control and biodiversity conservation. We’ve been based at the headquarters of the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD). Also based here is a program called SERVIR-Africa and together, the organization and the program have been leading a number of efforts to increase adaptive capacity in East Africa.
Great news from Ken Tate and the crew at SFREC today: the stocker cows have arrived and are starting to be placed into various experimental grazing treatments. Now you might ask, "What does this have to do with environmental policy?" The overarching goal of the rangeland management project is to understand how ecosystem services are integrated into rangeland decision-making. This is a key goal of environmental and agricultural policy throughout California and nationally, and is supported by USDA programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and CA policies like the Williamson Act. Like most other agricultural policies, these policies provide ranchers incentives to implement rangeland management practices and grazing strategies that enhance ecosystem services.
This week the Center's viticulture research team released two complementary reports about California winegrape grower adoption of sustainability practices and vineyard management goals. Several organizations throughout California viticulture share the objective of encouraging winegrape grower adoption of sustainability practices through outreach. "Sustainability practices" are those that balance economic, environmental, and social costs and benefits. We considered 44 codified sustainability practices. In these reports we focused on two organizations: the Napa Valley Grapegrowers and the Central Coast Vineyard Team. Both organizations have established histories of sponsoring grower outeach activities including field research, informational meetings, industry fairs, sustainability self-assessment workbooks, and sustainability certification systems.
I got a call last night from the ABC national office to talk about fracking, and the upcoming GlobalFrackdown planned for September 22, 2012. This media contact comes on the heels of an earlier interview from the Associated Press, where they were asking me about the psychology of perceptions regarding fracking. The ABC reporter was interested in a much wider range of issues, including some thoughts about the environmental effects of fracking. I know a little about some of the physical and natural sciences involved, but I needed to do some homework. What follows are some facts, some uncertainties, some analysis, and some opinions about fracking.