Tuesday, February 6, 2007

2007 Drink Water for Life

Drink Water for Life Challenge

As readers know, the royalties of this blog are now devoted to international NGOs providing safe, clean drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education.

The 7th Millennium Development Goal seeks to cut in half the number of people without those essentials by 2015. Current estimates are that it will cost about $16 billion additional per year until 2015 to accomplish that goal.  I find it unbelievable that we cannot globally achieve that goal, especially when unnecessary deaths from water-borne diseases exceed 2 million, mostly children, each year.  That's one child every 15 seconds.

For those of you who are members of faith-based communities, I suggest that you sponsor a DRINK WATER FOR LIFE challenge associated with your congregation.  Drink water instead of lattes (sodas, bottled water, coffee, alcohol).  Do it for Lent (or your appropriate analogous spiritual break).  Get your friends, your synagogue or church, school or workplace to do the same.  Collect the money you save, gather it together on  Easter (or whatever date makes sense in your faith tradition), put it in a Water Fund, and send it to one of the organizations that do this work.  With just $5000, an entire village of 200 - 500 people can be supplied with safe, clean, sustainable drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education. 

If you need addresses of faith-based organization who do this work, or secular charitable organizations who do this work, let me know.  If you need flyers explaining the problem, let me know.  Together we can make a difference.

February 6, 2007 in Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 5, 2007

Behavioral Economics and Climate Change Policy

Here's a new paper from John Gowdy that is a useful tonic to more traditional neoclassical economic perspective popular among many policy analysts. Behavioral_economics_and_climate_change_policy.pdf

 

Abstract: The policy recommendations of most economists are based on the rational actor model of human behavior. Behavior is assumed to be self-regarding, preferences are assumed to be stable, and decisions are assumed to be unaffected by social context or frame of reference. The related fields of behavioral economics, game theory, and neuroscience have confirmed that human behavior is other regarding, and that people exhibit systematic patterns of decision-making that are "irrational" according to the standard behavioral model. This paper takes the position that it is these "irrational" patterns of behavior that uniquely define human decision making and that effective economic policies must take these behaviors as the starting point. This argument is supported by game theory experiments involving humans, closely related primates, and other animals with more limited cognitive ability. The policy focus of the paper is global climate change. The research surveyed in this paper suggests that the standard economic approach to climate change policy, with its almost exclusive emphasis on rational responses to monetary incentives, is seriously flawed. In fact, monetary incentives may actually be counter-productive. Humans are unique among animal species in their ability to cooperate across cultures, geographical space and generations. Tapping into this uniquely human attribute, and understanding how cooperation is enforced, holds the key to limiting the potentially calamitous effects of global climate change.

February 5, 2007 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, International, Law, Legislation, Social Science, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Collapse of Easter Island

In the Journal of Developing Societies, Nagarajan discusses simulation studies of the ecological suicide of Easter Island -- reminding us of the lessons of Easter Island about the consequences of unsustainable resource use. Easter Island

August 18, 2006 in Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, Physical Science, Social Science, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mercury is not healthy for children and other living things

The Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant Mercury issued an Official Conference Declaration last Friday, endorsed by 37 top international experts on mercury pollution and ratified by a large majority of conference participants.  According to the declaration, mercury threatens the health of people, fish and wildlife everywhere, from industrial sites to remote corners of the planet, but reducing mercury use and emissions would lessen those threats.  A significant portion of the mercury deposited near industrial sources comes from those sources, rather than from natural sources.  Evidence of mercury's health risks is strong enough that people, especially children and women of childbearing age, should be careful about how much and which fish they eat.

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August 14, 2006 in Air Quality, Energy, Governance/Management, International, Mining, Physical Science, Social Science, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 4, 2006

Ocean Governance

Science has a policy forum article by Crowder and colleagues, Resolving Mismatches in U.S. Ocean Governance, that argues for marine spatial planning with comprehensive ocean zoning as the solution to fragmented governance as well as spatial and temporal mismatches between ocean ecosystems and governance mechanisms.  Its not a new analysis, but it succinctly states the problem and a solution, without requiring students to read the Executive Summaries of the Pew and U.S. ocean commissions.  [ocean governance article]

 That the oceans are in serious trouble is no longer news. Fisheries are declining, formerly abundant species are now rare, food webs are altered, and coastal ecosystems are polluted and degraded. Invasive species and diseases are proliferating and the oceans are warming. Because these changes are largely due to failures of governance, reversing them will require new, more effective governance systems.

Historically, ocean management has focused on individual sectors. In the United States, at least 20 federal agencies implement over 140 federal ocean-related statutes. This is like a scenario in which a number of specialist physicians, who are not communicating well, treat a patient with multiple medical problems. The combined treatment can exacerbate rather than solve problems. Separate regimes for fisheries, aquaculture, marine mammal conservation, shipping, oil and gas, and mining are designed to resolve conflicts within sectors, but not across sectors. Decision-making is often ad hoc, and no one has clear authority to resolve conflicts across sectors or to deal with cumulative effects. Many scientists are now convinced that the solution can be found in ecosystem-based management. Ecosystem-based management focuses on managing the suite of human activities that affect particular places. This is a marked departure from the current approach. The time has come to consider a more holistic approach to place-based management of marine ecosystems, comprehensive ocean zoning.

Management regimes for individual sectors operate under different legal mandates and reflect the interests of different stakeholders, so governance is riddled with gaps and overlaps. Fishing has a larger impact on biological diversity than any other human activity, but the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which governs fisheries, contains no mandate to maintain biodiversity. Ecosystem-based fisheries management is only a partial solution--it does not account for impacts on nontarget species or manage other activities that degrade fisheries, such as pollution or wetlands loss. The problem of fragmented governance is growing, as new place-based activities in the sea [e.g., aquaculture, wind farms, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals] are increasing the potential range and severity of conflicts across sectors.

Science 4 August 2006:
Vol. 313. no. 5787, pp. 617 - 618
DOI: 10.1126/science.1129706                                                

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August 4, 2006 in Biodiversity, Governance/Management, International, Law, Physical Science, Social Science, Sustainability, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Welcome to Environmental Law Prof Blog

WELCOME to Environmental Law Prof Blog.  Please feel free to use this post as an open thread to raise issues relevant to environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.                                                                        

The royalties from this blog and my other professional royalties are devoted to assuring that everyone in the world has clean safe drinking water.  This is my part helping meet the Millenium Development Goals.  Our children's children will thank you if you find a way to achieve the MDGs.  Even now, they are watching.... Eyes_hispanic_1

Find YOUR way to make the Millenium Development Goals reality!

Places to Start:
ONE: www.one.org
MILLENIUM PROMISE: www.millenniumpromise.org
MILLENIUM CAMPAIGN: www.millenniumcampaign.org

August 2, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

No Comment Required

Lebanon_qana_rubble_3

The US blocks a UN resolution deploring the Qana attack, softening the language. The US opposes an immediate, unconditional cease-fire.  Lebanon says thanks, but no thanks to a visit by US Secr. of State Rice. Deadly Israeli Air StrikeDove_w_1

July 30, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 3, 2006

WELCOME

WELCOME to Environmental Law Prof Blog.  Please feel free to use this post as an open thread to raise issues relevant to environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.                                                                           

The royalties from this blog and my other professional royalties are devoted to assuring that everyone in the world has clean safe drinking water.  This is my part helping meet the Millenium Development Goals.  Our children's children will thank you if you find a way to achieve the MDGs.  Even now, they are watching.... Eyes_hispanic_1

Find YOUR way to make the Millenium Development Goals reality.

Places to Start:
ONE: www.one.org
MILLENIUM PROMISE: www.millenniumpromise.org
MILLENIUM CAMPAIGN: www.millenniumcampaign.org

July 3, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Interesting Renewables Discussion

Energy folks might be interested in reading this four part series of articles by Michael Kane on Renewable Energy.  Kane is a peak oiler with a decidedly pessimistic view of the promise of renewables.  Part 1 discusses the problems of centralized power systems. Renewables Part 1 Part 2 focuses on the wind and importance of proximity in renewable energy. Renewables Part 2 Part 3 discusses renewable finance. Renewables Part 3 Part 4 deals with the prospect for replacing oil with solar. Renewables Part 4

[The ironies of the Bush-Cheney energy policy are too many to count, but Mike Kane's research on renewable energy has found a few big ones. For instance, domestic energy demand is growing fast. So are the energy alternatives, but unlike natural gas, coal, and oil, the sun and the wind are not always available. Dependence on renewables will require a back-up system running on the old hydrocarbons, or it will face frequent voltage drops and outages. If demand were to remain static, the old hydrocarbon capacity could serve as the backup; but because demand is surging, wind and solar are just supplements, not replacements. And since the existing hydrocarbon capacity is already in use, new renewable capacity is going to need new hydrocarbon capacity to back it up on windless, cloudy days.

This problem could be solved by a massive decentralization program to replace our national power grid with a multi-centered system that would be much more efficient and therefore less vulnerable to voltage drops (it would allow local consumers to use renewable energy for the actual replacement of hydrocarbon-driven electrical capacity, rather as a mere supplement). And here's another big ugly irony: whereas national rural electrification was achieved through a massive federally funded program comparable to Eisenhower's National Highway System, there is no government left to implement the opposite program which we desperately need for its replacement. As real wages collapse and viable jobs are lost by the millions, a grand-scale public works project would be an ideal way to slow the economic decline before it reaches the point of no return. Such a flicker of rational planning might even restore a shred of confidence in the dollar before that, too, becomes irretrievable. But that, says the devil on the screen, would be Big Government. -JAH]

Renewables

PART 1
The problems of centralized power systems

by

Michael Kane

  • Can Wind Replace Hydrocarbon Consumption?
  • Military & Intel Publicly Back Renewable Energy
  • Proximity & Money

March 18, 2005 1200 PST (FTW)Wind turbines are being built at an accelerated rate across the globe, in Europe, North America, China and other Asian nations. Hydrocarbon depletion will be felt sooner rather than later largely due to politics, and the planning elites are well aware of this.

Many wind farms are currently in operation with plenty more planned to come online within the next three years. Renewable energy is certainly important for sustainable energy systems, but no one - including the environmentalist community - seems to be scrutinizing the social facts surrounding this fairly recent boom in renewable energy projects.

Can Wind Replace Hydrocarbon Consumption?
The answer is no. Not even close.

In fact, renewable energy is not being looked upon as a means to replace or even move away from hydrocarbon consumption. Rather it is being utilized to supplement growing demand. This will ultimately result in the burning of more hydrocarbons than we currently consume.

Why is that?

Germany is further along in utilizing wind energy than any other nation. A report from E.ON Netz - Germany's second largest private energy provider - on the country's total wind capacity recently concluded 60% to 80% of Germany's energy must come from traditional sources (oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and hydroelectric) to ensure there is enough supply to meet demand. Windmills don't always spin, which leads to voltage fluctuation, and that will make any centralized grid unreliable. 1

To keep a centralized grid running, a constant and ever expanding stream of hydrocarbon and nuclear energy is required no matter how many windmills come online.

Centralized grids waste energy.

Sending energy over long distances consumes energy in the process just to keep the grid functioning. This is called 'reactive power.' Additionally, the gigantic grid system that connects all of America - with one sub-national grid for the West, one for the East, and, remarkably, one for Texas - often experiences congestion and bottlenecking resulting in energy loss. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), transmission bottlenecks cost consumers more than $1 billion in the summers of 2000 and 2001 alone. 2

Let's analyze one American state leading the renewable energy wave, New York. Governor Pataki has set a goal for 25% of New York's energy to be renewable by 2013. 19% of the state's energy already comes from renewable hydroelectric power, much of which will be included in New York's RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standards). 3

There is limited additional capacity to increase energy production in that area, so wind turbines are hoped to fill the bulk of the 6% gap. They currently produce a total of 49 megawatts in all of New York, while NYC alone requires a constant stream of 5,000 to 10,000 MW of energy.

Regardless of the Governor's fairly realistic goal, as more wind turbines come online an increase in hydrocarbon consumption will be required to ensure the reliability of our inefficient centralized grid as demand grows. As wind turbines approach 30% of New York's energy supply, more hydrocarbon resources will be needed to avoid voltage fluctuation. That is why both an LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) storage facility and new wind farms are currently being considered as projects for Long Island Sound. New York needs both of them to continue its massive, and increasing, over-consumption. As these projects are completed, the grid will need upgrades starting with new, expensive, transmission lines.

  • The perverse and unfortunate reality is that, provided that overall energy demand rises as it is projected to do, additional wind turbines will require the burning of more hydrocarbons and the production of more nuclear power over time to ensure the grid continues to run efficiently. Most likely, within the context of hydrocarbon depletion, this will lead to the eventual downfall of centralized power systems.

Since 1970 America's energy consumption has grown 30% in little over 30 years. Now our consumption is expected to grow a whopping 20% in only 7 years - between 2003 and 2010. 4Our grid is not equipped to handle this, and has led many individuals in the wind energy boom to say an overhaul of the grid needs to happen simultaneously with new turbines coming online.

The only solution that will be sustainable and palatable for everyone is to reduce consumption in a coordinated national program before the effects of hydrocarbon depletion worsen. There is no "renewable fix" to our energy problems without massive conservation efforts. Such a program should have begun long ago. But with Dick Cheney stating, "The American way of life is not negotiable," it is clear that over-consumption will remain America's national energy policy. As George W. Bush has plainly stated: "We need an energy bill that encourages consumption."

Meanwhile George W. has a PV solar system on his Texas ranch whose rain run-off is used to water the surrounding garden. Think about that for a minute.

It's up to individuals to learn and teach about renewable power systems that can be sustained. Renewable energy sources offer solutions in small cooperative settings, but not within a big centralized grid of over consumption. Decentralized power structures - in every facet of human life - are crucial for a sustainable, survivable future, and no one is going to do it for you. While there have been government funded grants for the study of decentralized micro-grids, there's little evidence of the political will to build them. And given the current administration's will-to-disaster, that particular snowball in hell has just about melted.

Perhaps America's "solution" will be the continued exchange of our youth's blood for the blood of mother Earth, as we are unsuccessfully attempting to do in Iraq. That game can't last. But it won't stop anytime soon, because the military-intelligence complex regard renewables as a way to cope with surging demand while avoiding conservation efforts - and peace.

continued below

© Copyright 2005, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.

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July 2, 2006 in Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science, Social Science, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Oregon State Rules!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Goodbye Cowboys: World Opinion Favors UN Power or Balanced Regional Power

The majority of people in nine major nations, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Japan, Russia and the United States, do not believe that a world system dominated by a single world power is  the best framework for ensuring peace and stability in the world. Instead they favor multipolar systems, either led by the United Nations or by a balance of regional leaders. They also disfavor a bipolar system where power wasdivided between two world powers.
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World Public Opinion reports:

Despite their status as the world’s sole super power today, Americans also rejected the model of a world order based on a single world power. Nor did they want to return to a world dominated by two great powers. Instead, they indicated that they would prefer an international system where power was shared among nations. A majority (52%) thought a balance of regional powers was the best framework but a third (33%) said they would like the UN to lead the world. Only ten percent favored either a system led by a single power (6%) or two powers (4%).

These results are consistent with other polls showing that Americans are uncomfortable with their country’s role as the world’s supreme power. A 2004 poll commissioned by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and conducted by Knowledge Networks found that 80 percent of Americans agreed the United States was “playing the role of world policeman more than it should be.” Asked to choose the statement closest to their own position, only eight percent said that the United States should “continue to be the preeminent world leader in solving international problems;” 78 percent said instead that the United States should “do its share in efforts to solve international problems together with other countries.”

Among the other eight nations, most also favored some system where power was shared among several nations. The Germans (68%) and the Chinese (51%) were the most enthusiastic about UN leadership. Pluralities also favored the UN in Great Britain (47%) and France (46%) while they supported a balance of regional powers in Brazil (45%) and India (37%). The Russians and the Japanese were more closely divided, with about a third in each country choosing the UN and a third picking a balance of regional powers. But a quarter of the Russians said they preferred a world system dominated by one or two superpowers. And more than a third of the Japanese either did not know which system to pick or choose not to answer the question.

June 12, 2006 in Asia, EU, Governance/Management, International, North America, Social Science, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 5, 2006

Environmental Risk Perception and Culture

Here's an interesting excerpt of Dan Kahan's discussion of cultural cognition studies on Empirical Legal Studies:Environmental Risk Perception

We found a similar relationship between the cultural status anxiety and the white male effect in environmental risk perceptions. To begin with, there are no differences in risk perception across race once cultural worldviews are controlled for. Gender differences do persist. But they are due entirely to the wide discrepancy in the views of extremely risk-skeptical white hierarchical males and considerably less risk-skeptical hierarchical women. There are no gender (or race) based differences in environmental risk perception among relatively individualistic or egalitarian persons.

Again, these patterns suggest the impact of culture-specific gender differences in status-conferring social roles. Within a hierarchic way of life, men tend to earn esteem by achieving success in civil society, while women earn it by successfully occupying domestic roles. Accordingly, it is hierarchic men, not hierarchic women, who experience the greatest status threat when commercial and industrial activities are challenged as dangerous. But within an individualist way of life, success in the market is status-conferring for men and women. Accordingly, individualistic men and individualistic women react with status-protecting skepticism when commerce and industry are attacked as dangerous. Commerce and industry are symbolic of social inequality and unconstrained individualism within egalitarian and solidaristic ways of life. Accordingly, as a means of promoting their status, men and women alike within these cultural groups tend to embrace claims of environmental risk.

June 5, 2006 in Social Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Green Campuses

My university's Sustainability Council is about to begin its second year.  So far, it has raised consciousness, greened our new buildings, supported greener operation of our existing physical plant and operations, funded a number of small staff, faculty, and student sustainability projects, and brought several sustainability scholars to campus.  Willamette Sustainability Site   It is a grassroots effort that receives significant support from the President, the Board of Trustees, as well as administration, faculty, staff, and students.  Although there are many small next steps to be taken,  I am wondering what the next giant leap should be.  My current nomination is a carbon neutral campus.  Can this be accomplished and how???  Please submit links to your campus sustainability efforts and let me know what you think about a carbon neutral campus.

May 9, 2006 in Air Quality, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, Sustainability, US, Water Quality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Open Thread

Please feel free to post comments relevant to environmental law, natural resources law, or sustainability.

One recent comment concerned hunting of wildlife on public lands in New South Wales.  See  Comment

February 1, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

2006 Environmental Performance Index: US 28th in the world

The NY Times and Washington Post have reported the US bottomline in the 2006 Environmental Performance Index, developed by Yale and Columbia.  But here's more.  2006 EPI Rankings

The Pilot 2006 Environmental Performance Index, developed  by the Center for Environmental Law & Policy at Yale University and               the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)   at Columbia University in collaboration with  the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, will be formally released in Davos, Switzerland, at the annual meeting of the World  Economic Forum on Thursday, 26 January 2006, but is currently available online.   Full 2006 EPI Report 

The index benchmarks national pollution control and natural resource management results. The index focuses on two goals shared by policymakers, including the internationally agreed upon UN Millennium Development Goals: 1) reducing environmental stresses on human health and 2) protecting ecosystem vitality.  Environmental health and               ecosystem vitality are gauged using sixteen indicators tracked in               six established policy categories: Environmental Health, Air Quality, Water Resources, Biodiversity and Habitat, Productive Natural Resources, and Sustainable Energy.

The EPI differs from the Environmental Sustainability Index because it stresses a comparison of current conditions with targets as opposed to long term sustainability.  Underdeveloped African countries may be relatively unpolluted (and therefore rank high on long-term sustainability), but may not be providing drinking water and sanitation services for their current population.  Other countries, such as the UK and Germany, may be handling current environmental challenges well, but face difficult long-term sustainability problems.  For a comparison of the ESI and EPI, see Appendix E.  Comparison of ESI and EPI

January 25, 2006 in Air Quality, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science, Social Science, Sustainability, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 13, 2006

The American Public Supports US Action on Climate Change

I came across a poll from July indicating that "[a]n overwhelming majority of Americans supports the US agreeing to limit greenhouse gas emissions in concert with other members of the G8 Summit."  Climate Change Poll  So, there is a significant disconnect between the American public and American leaders on responding to global warming.  The interesting question is why?  In foreign policy, Congress acts contrary to the shared views of the American public and American leaders, perhaps because the leaders do not believe the American public shares their views. Foreign Policy Contrary to Public Opinion  Could it be that American leaders do not act forcefully to address climate change because they think that the American public does not support a response?

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January 13, 2006 in Climate Change, Economics, Governance/Management, International, Law, Social Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ecological economics: sustaining optimal growth

Those interested in sustainable development may want to consider a paper recently published by Simone Valente of the Institute of Economic Research ETH Zurich, entitled "Sustainable Development: Renewable Resources and Technological Progress." Valente Paper  As should be obvious, growth in per capita consumption cannot be sustained for exhaustible natural resources (Pezzey and Withagen 1998).  Valente extends the model to include technical progress, resource renewability, extraction costs and population growth, with the result that optimal growth paths can only be maintained if the social discount rate does not exceed the sum of the rates of resource regeneration and augmentation. The development of resource-saving techniques is crucial for sustaining consumption per capita in the long run, whereas capital depreciation and extraction costs do not affect sustainability.

December 29, 2005 in Economics, Governance/Management, Social Science, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Disaster Planning

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John Bohannon notes in Science that the last year has been one of unprecedented natural disasters -- the 2004 "Christmas tsunami" in the Indian Ocean, Hurricane Katrina on the U.S. Gulf Coast, and the Pakistan earthquake, which left nearly 300,000 dead and millions homeless.

Natural disasters are anything but natural: societies can mitigate their impacts by making the right decisions about where and how people live, how information is shared, and what kind of research to invest in.

Some ideas include:

  • Disaster mitigation consultant Aromar Revi's proposal for "a public database like Google Earth" that would allow researchers around the world to map the "risk landscape down to the ZIP-code level." Nations with shared risks could build better warning networks -- if they are willing to share data and the expense.
  • <>

    Economist Reinhard Mechler's proposal for nations to use the disaster insurance market to improve risk-sharing, rather than rely on international charity  -- which would require the same sort of detailed risk data.


  • <>

    the US National Science and Technology Council's call for enhanced interdisciplinary communication as well as social science research to aid emergency risk communication

    As he notes:

One thing is all but certain: Even worse years lie ahead. Vulnerable urban populations of the developing world are set to double by 2030, as are coastal populations everywhere. Meanwhile, changing climate threatens to bring more hurricanes due to warming and chronic coastal flooding due to rising sea levels, among other worrying possibilities.

Disaster Research and Planning Needs

December 27, 2005 in Governance/Management, International, Physical Science, Social Science, Sustainability | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Open Thread

Friday, October 21, 2005

Amazon Deforestation Twice the Level Previously Reported

A study by  Asner, et al, reported in Science yesterday used new satellite reconnaisance techniques to detect smaller, selective cuts in the Amazon forests.  The new data indicates that annual cuts are up to twice as large as previously reported.  Amazon Stealth Deforestation

Abstract:
Amazon deforestation has been measured by remote sensing for three decades. In comparison, selective logging has been mostly invisible to satellites. We developed a large-scale, high-resolution, automated remote-sensing analysis of selective logging in the top five timber-producing states of the Brazilian Amazon. Logged areas ranged from 12,075 to 19,823 square kilometers per year (±14%) between 1999 and 2002, equivalent to 60 to 123% of previously reported deforestation area. Up to 1200 square kilometers per year of logging were observed on conservation lands. Each year, 27 million to 50 million cubic meters of wood were extracted, and a gross flux of ~0.1 billion metric tons of carbon was destined for release to the atmosphere by logging.

October 21, 2005 in Climate Change, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, Social Science, South America | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)