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.

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Dispatch: Fisheries Management in Ireland

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 27 August 2010

I'm spending a few days in Cahir, Ireland, which is quite a small town in Southwest Ireland on the way to Cork. The town is centered on a big castle on the Suir River. I've just returned from a "tour" by one of the leaders of the Cahir and District Angling Association, which is one of the private clubs that manage rivers throughout Ireland, England, and Scotland. These angling clubs are basically a perfect example of local common pool resource associations, and they have been around in Ireland for roughly 80 years in some cases. The history is interesting because it is a story of transitioning from feudal landownership, to the emergence of national states, to local community management of fisheries resources. In the case of Cahir, it was a feudal estate owned by the Stuart? (I might be getting some of these names wrong because I don't have time to research every detail as I sit here and sip my Guiness) family.

Dispatch: Dublin Network Conference

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 27 August 2010

I'm sitting on the Dublin Aircoach on my way back from the Dublin Network Conference. This was a small conference hosted at the University College of Dublin. There were a variety of interesting papers presented, ranging from purely descriptive network analysis to full-blown game theory general political equilibrium models with network effects. I was one of the keynote speakers and presented the current ecology of games paper that I'm writing with Garry Robins and Peng Wang. To be honest the paper received mixed reviews; some people definitely didn't buy it. One Dutch professor in particular, in a very unprofessional manner, actually called it rubbish. Of course he didn't really understand the model or research design very well and generally liked to hear himself talk.

Scratching Below the Surface of Napa Valley

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 13 August 2010

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:

Ranching in the blogosphere

By Bethany Cutts - Posted on 09 August 2010

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...

http://californiafamilyranching.blogspot.com/
http://stemplecreek.com/wordpress/
http://www.richardbealblog.com/?p=309

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.

Dispatch: Jacob and Matt in Central America

By Matthew Hamilton - Posted on 04 August 2010

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:

Rangeland Photos

By Bethany Cutts - Posted on 03 August 2010

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 Students Win Awards and Fellowships

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 29 July 2010

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,

SEED magazine and the urban research agenda

By Bethany Cutts - Posted on 26 July 2010

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.

Sustainable Viticulture in Australia

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 21 July 2010

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.

Shocking News Just In: People are Part of Natural Systems!

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 20 July 2010

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.

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