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.


When environmentalism does more harm than good

By Michael Levy - Posted on 09 April 2014

In general, people will pay three times more for an energy efficient CFL light bulb than a traditional incandescent. But, stick a "Protect the Environment" label on the energy-efficient option and conservatives become much less likely to buy the CFL.1

What happened? There's no difference in the economic or environmental benefits from the sticker. Lots of people are just turned off by environmentalism. The sticker's environmental plea invokes a spiteful response: I'm not going to choose the money-saving option that I would have otherwise, because those damn environmentalists want me to.

Economic Riddle of the Ocean: A consideration of the World Ocean Summit

By Angee Doerr - Posted on 06 March 2014

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of attending and participating in the second World Ocean Summit, a collection of business, political, financial, and scientific leaders hosted by The Economist. (Not that I am counting myself as any of those; I simply had the great luck and fortune of getting a comped registration through a member of the Switzer Foundation). From the beginning, this Summit was unlike any other (read: scientific) conference I had attended. Valet parking? Luxury watches for sale by the coffee? Not to mention the location, at the beautiful beachfront Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, CA. The day started with an intro by John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, followed by a video message from HRH The Prince of Wales and a live broadcast interview with Secretary John Kerry. All three of these men talked about the “economic riddle” of the oceans, our apparent disregard for the natural capital contained within.

The California Drought is a Political Time Machine

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 05 March 2014

The recent California drought is a time machine. It represents a regularly recurring event in California’s Mediterranean climate, which cycles back and forth between dry and wet years so frequently that a “normal” year is actually the exception. Hence, we have witnessed many droughts in the past, and we will see them again in the future. This prediction holds even if the models are wrong in forecasting that climate change will load the “climate dice” in favor of more frequent and longer duration droughts in the future. Of course most readers know this already—the recurring climate and hydrological patterns of California are big news headlines with nice info-graphics (and countless blogs, tweets, etc) in 2013-2014.

The following Los Angeles Times headlines illustrate the severity of drought in California:

How Will Farmers Respond to the California Drought?

By Meredith Niles - Posted on 12 February 2014

How will farmers respond to the drought? Following recent announcements about potential zero allocations from the California State Water Project, and the likelihood for other water allocations to follow suit, many are wondering how California agriculture will cope with the recent drought. The Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior is today releasing a new policy brief designed to answer this very question.

Using data from a farmer survey conducted by UC Davis researchers in 2011 in the Central Valley (Yolo County), we discuss farmers water uses in dry and normal years, their likely drought adaptation strategies, and how different kinds of water uses are likely to adopt different practices.

The main takeaways are:
1) Farmers shift away from surfacewater to groundwater in dry years

Pat Mulroy Exit Interview: Can a Water Warrior Learn to Cooperate?

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 04 February 2014

For over 20 years, Pat Mulroy has been the general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, with responsibility for securing the water supplies for the Las Vegas metropolitan region. Over that time, she earned a reputation as a savvy and tough character in water politics, where she has been involved in many of the biggest issues at the local, state, regional, and federal levels. She is retiring from her position on Thursday, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal posted an interesting exit interview. There are some real gems in this interview, which I think are worth further elaboration.

Why we need to advertise for environmental science and policy

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 09 January 2014

We just had the great opportunity to place an advertisement for the Department of Environmental Science and Policy into my favorite newspaper, High Country News. The picture on this blog is the actual advertisement. Although we made a couple of mistakes getting it together, it was fun to work on a deadline with an organization where getting something done means getting it done, right now!

Integrating Research & Lifestyle: Appreciating the Complexity of Farmer Decision-Making & Sustainability through Farm Stays

By Cory Belden - Posted on 06 January 2014

The uncle of a good friend of mine handed me a large stick at 8:30am on December 21st, as I sat with my cup of coffee and a copy of Kitschelt and Wilkinson’s (2007) Patrons, Policies, and Clientelism: Patterns of Democratic Accountability and Political Competition. “This is for you, to club your rabbits with.” It was a nice stick, heavy, the diameter perfectly suited to my palm; about as long as my fingers to my elbow outstretched, smooth, as if it had been sanded with fine paper. He carried on, describing how a perfect swing could instantly take out an unassuming bunny. My mind wandered – has this farmer, being a vegetarian, ever come close to hitting a rabbit? Doubtful.

Why professors should record lectures and encourage students to skip class

By Michael Levy - Posted on 05 December 2013

Most professors don’t post audio recordings of lectures online, despite the technical obstacles and time cost to doing so being near zero. That’s a shame. Listening to recorded lectures has tremendous flexibility that in-person lectures lack and, based on my experience, can significantly boost student efficiency and learning gains. The following is a sample of benefits I’ve noticed while taking an upper-division undergraduate evolutionary biology course entirely through audio recordings and pdf’s of lecture slides.

Benefits of listening to recorded lecturers versus attending class:

  • It’s more efficient. Using Window Media Player’s playback speed slider, I can listen at 1.4 – 1.8x the original speed. This allows me to go through an 80 minute lecture in 55-65 minutes
  • Do it at my convenience

Extension 3.0 is Spreading!

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 21 November 2013

It was great to connect with Bob Bertsch today, from North Dakota State University. He is a communications specialist who runs a podcast called "Working Differently in Extension". We had a conversation about the idea of Extension 3.0, and how it relates to the traditional model of Cooperative Extension. It was very interesting to hear how he is thinking about some of the same ideas, and facing some of the same challenges in forwarding the idea. Click here for a direct link to the podcast.

Policy brief: Why vineyards pursue sustainability certifications

By Michael Levy - Posted on 28 October 2013

What kinds of vineyards are getting certified as sustainable? How do farmers learn about sustainability certifications? And if farmers aren't getting paid more for certified grapes, what are the motivations? All this and more in our latest policy brief on sustainable viticulture.

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