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.
I'm currently engaged in one of the most enjoyable activities of my job: interviewing real people engaged in real environmental and agricultural decision-making situations. In this case, I'm talking about winegrape growers and winemakers in Napa Valley, who I am interviewing as part of the sustainable viticulture project. I've interviewed 6 people so far, and all of them have been interesting for different reasons.
One of the cool things about the Napa growers is that it gives me a chance to scratch beneath the surface of the country's premium wine region. The grape prices, land prices, and wine prices are the highest in the country. Napa growers feel they provide some of the best wine in the world (and most people agree), and also are leaders in sustainability.
Here are some of the interesting stories I've heard; these may or may not ever end up in a scientific publication but I can vouch for their authenticity:
As part of my effort to understand ranching culture I'm seeking out ranching blogs based in CA.... so far these are the only non-dude ranch or pie-ranch blog I've found in the state...
P.S. Is there an official delineation separating a ranch from a ranchette or a ranch from a farm?
P.P.S. I can't tell if these blogs are legit or publicity creations associated with the beef industry.
For most of the summer we have been in Central America, working to help improve efforts to manage water resources in impoverished rural communities. We’re here under the auspices of the Global Water Initiative (read all about it here: www.globalwaterinitiative.com), which is a coalition of international NGOs working in three world regions to address the declining state of the world’s freshwater supply. In Central America—including Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua—the lead coalition partner is Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and we have been working most closely with CRS staff. Even though we are both involved in the same project, we are approaching our research quite differently.
Highlights from Jacob:
These are pictures I took at two events that have helped me to learn more about ranching and the larger social and environmental context of ranching. A little "participant observation / participant action" to kick start my time at Davis.
1) In June, I attended a fieldtrip sponsored by the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition to East Bay Municipal Utilities District. The trip featured a grazing partnership initiated as an alternative to burning. Near a water supply and urban development, soil erosion, air pollution, and invasive plants are all important factors in the managing open space. My claim to fame was bringing sunscreen and sharing it with others.
CEPB graduate students are highly encouraged (indeed, required) to apply for relevant fellowships and awards until they run out of eligibility. We have a pretty good track record of winning awards, and even those students who don't succeed in a particular year learn a lot of valuable grant writing skills (even they will tell you this is true, even though the process can be painful on top of classes and other duties). In 2010, Meredith Niles won a prestigous National Science Foundation graduate fellowship and Matt Hamilton was awarded the highly competitive Switzer Fellowship. Below is the announcement from Switzer, which went straight to the Dean of the Colleage of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and was accompanied by a widely broadcast press release. I'm not even listing all the students who have won awards, but congrats to those who have and keep trucking to those whose time is yet to come.
"Dear Dean Van Alfen,
Geoffrey West, a physicist and former director of the Santa Fe Institute, writes about the super linear potential of cities - in cities, both innovation and other amenities accrue at a faster rate than they would in more rural regions. Environmental and social disamenities are also (and equally) prevalent. This is an interesting phenomenon that he argues, is also cautionary because the rate at which change is occuring. Implicit in his argument are a few themes worth exploration:
1. Disamenities are unintentional biproducts of the accumulation of wealth
2. The current system of problem-innovation-problem embodies a "sustainable growth" perspective which relies on being able to innovate over increasingly short intervals or shifting to a different model of social and economuc arrangements.
As detailed on our projects page, our National Science Foundation study of sustainable viticulture is in full swing. But sustainable viticulture is not only a California phenomena. It is also occuring in countries like Australia, as illustrated by an interview about the Yalumba Wine Company.
In a rare instance of navel-gazing, there is some new research that shows more than 2/3 of ecology studies are focused on "protected" areas where human influence is minimized.
Knowing what to ask to get to what you need to know
I'm currently putting together the template of questions to be used later this Summer for interviews of local groundwater users. These interviews will inform my survey design that will be conducted late Spring 2011. Making sure I ask what is relevant and what will create a complete picture of groundwater knowledge, practices and cooperation among the resource users is not a simple task. I'm collecting survey instruments from various researchers to get ideas and make sure I'm on the right track. If anyone out there has any suggestions I'm all ears!
I have been pedaling the idea of "Extension 3.0" in the context of several grants and also meetings with administrators. It is beginning to get some traction within the college and UC Division of Ag and Natural Resources. When an official of DANR forwaded some of these materials to his staff, he described the reaction as "shaking up a can of soda in the hallway" because everybody got excited. I think this is good news in the context of a bureaucracy. See the attachment for a summary of the idea.