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It was really fun to talk about environmental policy and survey research on Jefferson Public Radio, serving far NorCal and Southern Oregon.
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.
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'
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.
Every year I teach a class in public lands management and environmental policy, where we discuss the roles of major political institutions like Congress, President, courts, and bureaucracy. For a fun participatory exercise, I always peruse the environmental platforms of the most current presidential candidates to see where they stand on public lands issues.
A major branch of my research is devoted to studying complex institutional systems, which I argue are the defining feature of real-world environmental governance and public policy more generally. Along with my colleagues (especially John Scholz and Ramiro Berardo) and students, we have updated the “ecology of games” idea originally developed by sociologist Norton Long in 1958 to describe the many different types of political actors and institutions operating in local political contexts. Our ecology of games framework (EGF) synthesizes a number of existing theoretical concepts, with a strong basis in the work of Elinor Ostrom and new institutional economics, network analysis, and complex adaptive systems.
Blogs are sometimes good for making arguments that might not be published. Of course a good blog doesn’t just invent nonsense. Rather, it focuses on expert-based opinions. In the next couple of months, I’m going to write some expert-based opinions about theories of environmental governance that I use in my research. I begin with a long-standing criticism I have of the term “network governance”, in particular when it is used to describe a form of governance that is different from markets and hierarchies.
Do milestone events (like the publication of Earthrise, December 24 1968, or The Limits to Growth (1972)) have a lasting impact on global econmic and environmental policy? What's "gestation period" for a work such as Limits to Growth, that has profound implications for sustainable management of global resources, before it's message begins to influence policy formulation? Why doesn't growth make us happy? I've been trying to grapple with these and other connected questions. Read more at: http://1680kcal.org/?p=184.
In order to reinforce the importance of integrating social and biophysical sciences to solve environmental problems, it is sometimes useful to tilt at straw men. Take the case of the New Zealand mudsnail, and this paper that purports a solution: Simple Control Method to Limit the Spread of the New Zealand Mudsnail Potamopyrgus antipodarum. Awesome, let's go home.
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!