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Sequestration- The Policy Kind, Not the Carbon Kind: The biggest science issue scientists aren't talking about
I’m a policy wonk, I’ll admit it. Politico, the US Senate and US House of Representatives webpages are bookmarked on my web browser. I am also a scientist, and for the past years have been working to combine these two interests towards a career in science policy. As a graduate student, I understand the daily demands of academic life for my fellow students,teachers and advisers. Teaching, advising and running experiments while trying to crank out academic publications every year is not an easy task. So, for many scientists there are simply not enough hours in the day to engage in science policy debates and advocacy. But right now scientists in the United States are facing one of the greatest policy issues of our time- sequestration.
Interesting news today about the Army Corps of Engineers' decision to declare that many of the levees in the Sacramento region fail to meet maintenance standards. As a result, the Army Corp may decertify the levees as meeting the 100-year flood protection standards, forcing many homeowners in the area to purchase expensive flood insurance ($1200 per year!) and limiting federal funding for rebuilding in the wake of a flood. Not only does this case have important implications for Sacramento, which has one of the highest flood risks in the country, but it also illustrates a number of recurring issues in the bureaucratic politics of risk with respect to flood management.
Jay Famiglietti of UC Irvine just posted a blog at National Geographic's Water Currents, calling for greater investment in hydrological science in order to better understand current and future water supplies and demand. Much of Jay's recommendations focuses on better data availability and computer models for hydrological processes. He also acknowledges a need for technology transfer to decision-makers and communication to the general public. I absolutey agree with all of these points. But it is not enough to solve the water problems in the US or globally.
Reporting here on a research snippet from the Center’s National Science Foundation funded sustainable viticulture research project.
What is the definition of sustainable agriculture? More importantly, how might we define sustainable agriculture to serve as an effective guide for putting sustainability into practice?
Updating now at 10:26pm Pacific Time. There is only so much you can take before you need a break.
This is climate change.
It is 7:26pm Pacific Time on June 26, 2012. I'm watching a live video feed of the Waldo Canyon Fire barelling towards my parent's house in Colorado Springs, CO. It is quite possible that by the time I finish this blog post, their home could be on fire. They had to endure gridlock to make it to a friend's house. I grew up in this neighborhood, and already several landmarks are gone. This will be the largest natural disaster in Colorado history most likley...unless something worse happens before the fire season is over (it is only June).
So what can we learn about climate change from a disaster like this?
The Center's National Science Foundation and UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program funded study on sustainable viticulture recently received some media attention by Western Fruit Grower Magazine. The article, titled "Networking Helps Winegrape Growers: Survey shows top winegrape growers share and share alike", can be read by clicking on the link below. Thank you to David Eddy, the author of the article, for his interest in our work. We are appreciative of the opportunity to communicate some of our research findings directly to growers and industry professionals - those folks doing the hard putting sustainable agriculture into practice.
Iowa Public Radio recently published a short article exploring how Lodi winegrape growers are perceiving and adapting to climate change. This article is part of a larger series on climate change in California agriculture. Aaron Lange, a fifth generation Lodi winegrape grower who serves as an adviser to our Center's sustainable viticulture research project was one of the growers interviewed. The article can be viewed here: http://harvestpublicmedia.org/article/1066/could-climate-change-warm-you...
Today for lab meeting the CEPB crew is reading Orjan Bodin and Maria Tengo's excellent new paper "Disentangling Intangible Social-Ecological Systems". These two scholars have been international leaders in developing theoretical and empirical approaches to studying social-ecological systems (SES). In my opinion, the concept of SES is one of the most important ideas for furthering our understanding of environmental governance and policy, and how social decisions link to environmental outcomes.
In 2011, the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior's viticulture research team, which includes Mark Lubell, Vicken Hillis, and Matthew Hoffman, designed and administerd the third installment of the Lodi Winegrape Grower Survey. Lodi's regional grower organization, the Lodi Winegrape Commission, has a long history of advancing agriculture in the Lodi winegrape region. Over the years the LWC's policies and programs have evolved in response to the ever-changing economic, environmental, political, and social climate of California agriculture. In short, the LWC was worked hard to support the changing needs of Lodi growers. The 1998 and 2003 winegrape grower surveys played important roles in guiding this evolution by providing a scientific and empirical basis for evaluating outreach and education programs, identifying grower needs, understanding grower perceptions and opinions, and tracking grower adoption of innovative agricultural practices.
CEPB researchers and colleagues have released a new research brief--"Rancher Attitudes and Participation in Conservation Easements in California"--as part of ongoing work on a USDA-funded project on grazing management and ecosystem services.
Data were collected from a survey of 475 ranchers in California. The research brief casts doubt on the stereotype that a strong property rights orientation is a barrier to conservation easements. Although ranchers expressed a strong commitment to private property rights, these attitudes had no significant relationship to the likelihood of currently holding a conservation easement, or planning to in the future. In contrast, positive views about government’s role in conservation significantly increase rates of current and future planned participation.