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Policy Brief: Citizen Perceptions of Sea-Level Rise

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 07 September 2017

Introduction

Our new policy brief reports some initial results from a household survey of SF Bay residents regarding their perceptions of sea-level rise and floodrisks, as it relates to various types of political behavior such as voting for Measure AA. 

Issue

The Governance Gap: New Report on Adapting to Sea-Level Rise in SF Bay

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 27 June 2017

As part of our NSF project on sea-level rise adaptation, I am very happy to officially release the final version of our report on governance challenges in the SF Bay Area.  This report summarizes the results of an extensive study of governance for climate adaptation and sea-level rise in the SF Bay Area, where the concept of sea-level rise adaptation also includes coastal flooding from high tides and extreme storm events. We focus on the “governance gap” that exists between the problem of sea-level rise and the implementation of adaptation solutions that increase resilience. The governance analysis was conducted in Fall 2016-Winter 2017, and is based on a qualitative case study that combines in-person interviews, focus groups, document analysis, and content analysis of interview responses. The draft report was made available to study participants in Spring 2017, along with two webinars for receiving feedback.

Polycentric Governance: A Concept Searching for a Theory

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 13 April 2017

I have just returned from the 2017 meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, where David Konisky kindly provided comments on our paper led by Jack Mewhirter (you can find the paper on the MPSA paper repository, which sadly is gated….), which demonstrated the existence of “negative institutional externalities” in the context of polycentric governance institutions. Negative institutional externalities occur when decisions made in one policy venue negatively affect outcomes in other policy venues. David commented that the existence of negative institutional externalities is a challenge to the normative assumption that polycentric governance is a superior governance arrangement to other types of “monocentric” or centralized approaches—how could this normative assumption be correct if introducing new venues has negative effects on the system?

Trump’s Silver Lining: Make Environmental Infrastructure Great Again?

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 02 January 2017

There are many reasons to be dismayed about the outlook for environmental policy under the Trump administration. His potential appointees to the Environmental Protection Agency, and Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Energy not exactly environmental advocates. These political appointees will lead efforts to roll back many of the environmental initiatives of the Obama administration, although they may encounter resistance from career civil servants in management positions. Trump does not recognize the validity of climate science, or even “science” writ large, despite substantial research about the economic costs resulting from human damage to the environment. Overall, the Trump administration offers a gloomy forecast that will once again force the environmental community to play political defense.

An Ode to the Benefits of Messy Environmental Policy

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 08 September 2016

Ramiro Berardo and I recently published a new article on the structure of polycentric and complex governance systems for water management (sorry for the gated links…but see key figure inserted in this blog, where policy actors are circles, venues squares, and links represent participation).  We have been working on this project for a number of years, driven by the reality that most environmental governance arrangements involve many different actors participating in multiple policy venues, and working on interrelated problems.  Fortunately, veteran California environmental policy-maker Phil Isenberg was kind enough to provide a commentary on the article.  Among Phil’s comments are, “For those of us with some responsibility for making decisions on water and the environment and hoping to 'do good'

The 2016 Emergency Conservation Regulations: The Moral Hazard of Mandatory Measures

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 12 May 2016

On May 9, 2016 the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) announced new emergency water conservation regulations applicable to urban water suppliers throughout the state.

Water Data Cannot Fix Broken Behavior

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 06 April 2016

In a recent New York Times editorial, Charles Fishman argues “Water is Broken. Data Can Fix It.”   He laments the dearth of water data in the United States, and suggests that increasing the collection and availability of water data will create a demand for additional information, change behavior, and ignite innovation.  Mike Kiparsky and Joshua Viers reiterate this idea in the Los Angeles Times, in the context of needing better information for California water.   

Participatory Learning Games for Social-Ecological Systems

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 17 March 2016

How can a simple game represent a complex social-ecological system?  For the last few years, I have taught a graduate class on social-ecological systems (SES) that introduces SES concepts and frameworks along with delving into a number of related topics in environmental social science. A core activity of the class involves student groups choosing SES case studies, and applying the course topics from a particular week to the case study. Over the years, student groups have come up with creative participatory SES games as an alternative to top-down presentations.  The Winter 2016 students took participatory games to the most advanced level yet—all four student groups created games representing their SES case studies.

The Structure of Twitter Networks for California Agriculture

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 04 March 2016

We just released a policy brief with our initial analysis of the structure of Twitter networks centered on California agriculture.  Starting with 153 users identified as relevant to California agriculture by the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, we traced the followers and followees of the initial group to identify approximately 59K Twitter users.  The results clearly support the idea that social media outlets like Twitter can be a valuable aspect of strategic communications, education, and outreach about agriculture and the environment.  Among the most interesting findings are:

1.  The network is divided into 10 communities including climate, food, water, agriculture, plant sciences, politics, international development, viticulture, gardening, and animal welfare.

Don't let COP21 Become Symbolic Politics

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 22 December 2015

This blog COP21 was written with my most excellent colleague and global climate modeller Ben Houlton.  We tried to get it into some newspaper editorials, but we were somewhat late off the mark in the policy wonk COP21 feeding frenzy.  I happen to know the editor of the CEPB blog (funny thing that), so here you go.

On December 12, the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris produced an ambitious agreement that observers are hailing as a landmark in the fight against climate change. For the first time, large developing countries like China and India have pledged to reduce their emissions and each of the final 186 signatories submitted strategies to reduce their emissions. Developed countries agreed to help developing countries pay for adaptation and transitions to cleaner energy systems.  COP21 represents an unprecedented level of global effort. 

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