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.
How should we spend our climate dollar: mitigation or adaptation?
Well, the climate change bad news continues to roll in. The Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii has recorded another large rise in CO2 emissions, raising the total to 395ppm. A new peer reviewed analysis suggests that Annex I countries (the developed countries who are party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change)would have to reduce their emissions levels to 50% below 1990 levels by 2020, to have a medium chance to keep warming at only 2 degrees centigrade.
For the past week, I’ve been helping to facilitate a workshop on the use of remote sensing for climate change adaptation in East Africa. The workshop is actually part of a NASA and USAID research fellowship program for university students from all over eastern and southern Africa, who are carrying out projects on climate change dimensions of food security, flood control and biodiversity conservation. We’ve been based at the headquarters of the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD). Also based here is a program called SERVIR-Africa and together, the organization and the program have been leading a number of efforts to increase adaptive capacity in East Africa.
Great news from Ken Tate and the crew at SFREC today: the stocker cows have arrived and are starting to be placed into various experimental grazing treatments. Now you might ask, "What does this have to do with environmental policy?" The overarching goal of the rangeland management project is to understand how ecosystem services are integrated into rangeland decision-making. This is a key goal of environmental and agricultural policy throughout California and nationally, and is supported by USDA programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and CA policies like the Williamson Act. Like most other agricultural policies, these policies provide ranchers incentives to implement rangeland management practices and grazing strategies that enhance ecosystem services.
This week the Center's viticulture research team released two complementary reports about California winegrape grower adoption of sustainability practices and vineyard management goals. Several organizations throughout California viticulture share the objective of encouraging winegrape grower adoption of sustainability practices through outreach. "Sustainability practices" are those that balance economic, environmental, and social costs and benefits. We considered 44 codified sustainability practices. In these reports we focused on two organizations: the Napa Valley Grapegrowers and the Central Coast Vineyard Team. Both organizations have established histories of sponsoring grower outeach activities including field research, informational meetings, industry fairs, sustainability self-assessment workbooks, and sustainability certification systems.
I got a call last night from the ABC national office to talk about fracking, and the upcoming GlobalFrackdown planned for September 22, 2012. This media contact comes on the heels of an earlier interview from the Associated Press, where they were asking me about the psychology of perceptions regarding fracking. The ABC reporter was interested in a much wider range of issues, including some thoughts about the environmental effects of fracking. I know a little about some of the physical and natural sciences involved, but I needed to do some homework. What follows are some facts, some uncertainties, some analysis, and some opinions about fracking.
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?