Rural–Urban Differences in Cooking Practices and Exposures in Northern Ghana

by Wiedinmyer, C., K. Dickinson, R. Piedrahita, E. Kanyomse, E. Coffey, M. Hannigan, R. Alirigia, and A. Oduro

Environmental Research Letters
Volume 12, Number 6 (2017)

Abstract: Key differences between urban and rural populations can influence the adoption and impacts of new cooking technologies and fuels. We examine these differences among urban and rural households that are part of the REACCTING study in Northern Ghana. While urban and rural populations in the study area all use multiple stoves, the types of stoves and fuels differ, with urban participants more likely to use charcoal and LPG while rural households rely primarily on wood. Further, rural and urban households tend to use different stoves/fuels to cook the same dishes—for example, the staple porridge Tuo Zaafi (TZ) is primarily cooked over wood fires in rural areas and charcoal stoves in urban settings. This suggests that fuel availability and ability to purchase fuel may be a stronger predictor of fuel choice than cultural preferences alone. Ambient concentrations of air pollutants also differ in these two types of areas, with urban areas having pollutant hot spots to which residents can be exposed and rural areas having more homogeneous and lower pollutant concentrations. Further, exposures to carbon monoxide and particulate matter differ in magnitude and in timing between urban and rural study participants, suggesting different behaviors and sources of exposures. The results from this analysis highlight important disparities between urban and rural populations of a single region and imply that such a characterization is needed to successfully implement and assess the impacts of household energy interventions. Read more …

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Notes from the Field in Ethiopia: From Top-Down Mapping to Bottom-Up Solutions

Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre Internship Program
by Katie Chambers
Ethiopia, June 2017

Katie is a PhD student in Environmental Engineering with a focus on Engineering for Developing Communities. In Ethiopia, Katie will be developing flood inundation maps for communities downstream of hydroelectric dams. These maps will guide the development of Early Warning Early Action frameworks for the Ethiopian Red Cross Society and IFRC. Her environmental engineering research investigates the comparative vulnerabilities and resilience of different types of sanitation systems found in resource-limited communities, as well as the tradeoffs made when prioritizing resilience in system selection.

These past couple weeks have been full of meetings that have taken me across Addis Ababa to coordinate the project’s organizational stakeholders, including the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, Ministry of Water, National Meteorological Agency, Netherlands Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross, Awash River Basin Authorities, and (of course) the Climate Centre. Each organization has an interest in my work, ranging from existing projects in the Awash River Basin to using my findings to help develop a countrywide disaster response framework. While this coordination adds to my summer’s workload, knowing that I have the support, encouragement, and interest of so many individuals and organizations has given me the confidence and reassurance that the project will be successful and impactful.

With site visits and community-based research beginning next week, I am making the transition from office to field work. The transition isn’t only a shift in the work I’m performing, but a shift in mentality. A recurrent lesson through all my development classes and fieldwork is the importance of community participation. As engineers and development practitioners, we’re sometimes so focused on solving a problem that we forget to engage with the very people we’re trying to solve the problem for. Case studies have shown that even perfectly designed systems failed when communities were not actively engaged throughout the project process. For example, researchers from CU Boulder found that during the post-disaster shelter reconstruction following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, latrines were installed attached to homes. While the toilets were structurally sound and functional, they went unused due to homeowners’ fears that they would cause bad odors in the house (Jordan, Javernick-Will, & Amadei, 2015).

The flood models developed in the project’s first phase are not the solution to the problem my summer work addresses. Disaster preparedness plans should be informed by bottom-up participatory approaches, with models to guide planning. This allows for a more realistic approach, guided by a community’s identification of priorities and threats. The coming weeks will be busy, filled with fieldwork and the refinement of the flood models. Apologies for the lack of pictures accompanying this blog post, but with fieldwork coming up I’ll be sure to make up for it!

Jordan, E., Javernick-Will, A., and Amadei, B. (2015). Post-disaster reconstruction: lessons from Nagapattinam district, India. Development in Practice, 25(4), 518–534.

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MeCCO Monthly Summary: Trump and Paris Climate Agreement Consumes Cultural Coverage of Climate Change

Media and Climate Change Observatory (MeCCO)
May 2017 Summary

May 2017 coverage of climate change and global warming increased compared to the previous month, as overall coverage across all sources in twenty-eight countries showed an approximate 10 percent increase compared to April 2017. Coverage of political, scientific, ecological/meteorological, and cultural dimensions of climate change increased most prominently in Africa and Asia, which saw 31 percent and 28 percent increases in coverage, respectively. Europe and North American also saw modest month-to-month increases in coverage, while the Middle East, Oceania, and South America all showed slight decreases compared to the previous month. Europe (142%), Oceania (81%), and Asia (22%) all increased coverage of climate change compared to May 2016. Overall, coverage across all sources in twenty-eight countries decreased approximately 43 percent compared to May 2016

With an overall increase in coverage, political themes in May 2017 continued to focus on the United States’ involvement with the Paris Climate Agreement. The Hindustan Times reported on the uncertainty surrounding the Trump Administration’s decision on whether or not to withdraw from the Agreement and cited the Group of Seven (G7) meeting in Italy as a key date in the overall decision process. Another article in the Manila Bulletin considered the impacts of a U.S withdrawal from the Agreement and described the mounting pressure on the Trump Administration from international leaders to stay the course. Other political coverage focused on the response of international leaders to a U.S. abdication. Indrani Bagchi of The Times of India reported on a renewed partnership between Germany and India, which has helped to reaffirm each countries’ commitment to emissions reductions under the Paris Agreement in the face of a U.S. withdrawal.

Coverage of scientific and ecological dimensions of climate change in May 2017 centered on a number of new reports on carbon emissions. Henry Fountain at The New York Times summarized a recent academic study that details drastic changes to the carbon cycle in Arctic and near-Arctic regions as a result of a warming climate. The new study suggests that due to warming temperatures, these regions are shifting away from a net sink or “storehouse” of carbon to a net source of carbon emissions. Chelsea Harvey at The Washington Post also drew from new analyses by the Climate Action Tracker on the progress China and India have made in meeting their emissions reductions goals under the Paris Climate Agreement. Overall, the two countries are on track to exceed their climate pledges while the current trajectory U.S. emissions reductions lags behind.

The Trump Administration and the Paris Climate Agreement also consumed cultural coverage of climate change in May 2017, continuing an ongoing trend. Alexandra Zavis of the The Los Angeles Times wrote about President Trump’s visit with Pope Francis, who provided the President with a copy of his 2015 encyclical that called for global collective action to address climate change. Another article, this time in the Des Moines Register, summarizes a recent report on activists and law enforcement officials focused on the Dakota Access Pipeline. The report describes how an international security firm targeted protesters opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counter-terrorism measures and closely collaborated with law enforcement authorities in five U.S. states.

Figure Caption: Word frequency in climate change and global warming coverage in April 2017 from four Indian newspapers (left) and five US newspapers (right). For India: The Indian Express, The Hindu, the Hindustan Times, and The Times of India. For US: The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times.

– report prepared by Kevin Andrews, Max Boykoff, Gesa Luedecke, Meaghan Daly and Ami Nacu-Schmidt

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Perceptions of the Effects of Floods and Droughts on Livelihoods: Lessons from Arid Kenya

Product of CSTPR’s Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCRCCC) internship program

by Amy Quandt and Yunus Antony Kimathi

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management
Vol. 9 Issue: 03, pp.337-351 (2017)

The purpose of this paper is to understand how people practicing natural resource-based livelihoods in arid Kenya perceive that their livelihoods are being affected by floods and droughts and how to integrate these local perceptions of impacts into larger-scale climate change adaptation initiatives and policy.

In Isiolo County, Kenya, 270 households were surveyed in seven communities, six focus group discussions were held and a document review was conducted.

Findings: The major livelihood practiced in Isiolo is pastoralism (71 per cent), but agriculture and non-agro-pastoral activities also play an important role, with 53 per cent of the respondents practicing more than one type of livelihood. In Isiolo, floods have a large impact on agriculture (193 respondents out of 270), while droughts impact both agriculture (104 respondents) and livestock (120 respondents), and more specifically, cattle-keeping (70 respondents). Read more …

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Barn Swallow Research in China

Rebecca Safran (co-founder of CSTPR’s Inside the Greenhouse project), along with Liz Scordato (a post-doc in the Safran Lab), travelled to China in May 2017 to meet up with Dr. Liu Yu.

They are traveling with Dr. Emilio Pagani-Núñez, a research scientist at Sun Yat-sen University. Both Liu Yu and Emilio work on barn swallow populations in other parts of China and are part of our larger collaborative team.

Click on the links below to read about their research and travels in China!

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Notes from the Field in Ethiopia: Engineering Meets Humanitarian Action

Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre Internship Program
by Katie Chambers
Ethiopia, June 2017

Katie is a PhD student in Environmental Engineering with a focus on Engineering for Developing Communities. In Ethiopia, Katie will be developing flood inundation maps for communities downstream of hydroelectric dams. These maps will guide the development of Early Warning Early Action frameworks for the Ethiopian Red Cross Society and IFRC. Her environmental engineering research investigates the comparative vulnerabilities and resilience of different types of sanitation systems found in resource-limited communities, as well as the tradeoffs made when prioritizing resilience in system selection.

The sound of distant thunder echoes through my fifth-floor office in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and the city traffic has come to a standstill as rain saturates the ground below. The rainy season has just started in Ethiopia and will continue until August. Locals warn me to expect rain every day, but that “it is nothing compared to the rain in the United States”. With the rainy season comes hope of a break from the drought that has affected much of East Africa, but also the potential of floods impacting vulnerable communities. My project as an intern with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre this summer aims to address issues surrounding flooding and consists of two main objectives, to (1) develop inundation models to determine the extent of flooding on downstream communities and (2) develop a forecast-based contingency plan for the Red Cross to link the level of risk with the actions needed to protect communities from floods.

The project specifically looks at the Awash River and flooding downstream of Koka Dam, Ethiopia’s oldest hydroelectric dam, with the potential to expand the project to an additional dam currently in construction.

The first phase of the project consists of flood inundation mapping using HEC-GeoRAS, a software that combines HEC-RAS (a program that models water flow through natural and man-made channels) and ArcGIS (a program for the management, analysis, and display of geographic information).

The results are produced in a geospatial context, which allows users to determine the extent of flooding and predicted impacts to downstream communities. Controlled water releases from Koka Dam and precipitation during rainfall events both contribute to the water flow in the Awash River. Contribution of the dam release and the heavy predication to flooding need to be clarified. These different contributing factors have led to the proposal of three flood modeling scenarios for the Awash River: (1) water release exclusively from Koka Dam, (2) water exclusively from rainfall, and (3) both water release from Koka Dam and rainfall. Read more …

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Navigating Climate Change – A Communications Challenge by Max Boykoff

[video] 40:14

The realization that climate change is bound to deeply disrupt our future hasn’t set in yet in the US, in large part due to a longstanding propaganda campaign by the fossil fuel lobby to sew doubt. CU Boulder professor Max Boykoff reports on creative ways of communicating climate science and policy.

Organized by the Jefferson County chapter of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES). CRES features several local monthly speaker series throughout the state, provides speakers, experts, workshops and weighs in on state energy policy.

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More than Scientists: Quitting is a Privilege

Quitting is a privilege
Phaedra Pezzullo, University of Colorado Boulder

We have a lot of admiration for Phaedra’s approach:
“I think quitting is a privilege. If you listen to the people most impacted by environmental disasters and climate disasters, they don’t have the privilege to quit, they have to keep working. I find a lot of hope in the people who get up every day and try to make a difference, because what is our alternative?”

Because really, what *is* the alternative? [video]

In this Inside the Greenhouse project, Fall semester ‘Climate and Film’ (ATLS 3519/EBIO 4460) students and Spring semester ‘Creative Climate Communication’ (ENVS3173/THTR4173) students, along with the More than Scientists campaign, create and produce a short video based on an interview of a climate scientist in the local Boulder area, depicting human/personal dimensions of their work.

These scientists work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), Wester Water Assessment(WWA), the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) and various other units at CU-Boulder (e.g. Atmospheric Sciences Department, Environmental Studies Program, Geography Department, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department).

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CSTPR 2016 Annual Report

January 1 – December 31, 2016
Full Annual Report [pdf]

Working to improve how science & technology policies address societal needs through research, education and service

The Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR) was established within CIRES in 2001 to conduct research, education, and outreach at the interface of science, technology, and the needs of decision makers in public and private settings. The Center’s vision is to serve as a resource for science and technology decision makers and those providing the education of future decision makers.  Our mission is to improve how science and technology policies address societal needs, through research, education and service.

As 2017 begins, it is a great opportunity to reflect on our accomplishments and ongoing endeavors here in the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR). In these urgent and opportune times, CSTPR core faculty, staff, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students have constructively addressed many pressing, dynamically changing and important science, technology, and policy issues before us. These efforts have further been invigorated by visitors we have hosted during 2016, who have contributed to furthering our CSTPR mission. Through research, teaching and service projects to improve our understandings of how the quality of decision-making can catalyze and enhance webs of interaction between science, technology, politics, policy and society, members of the CSTPR community have engaged in a range of activities that are outlined in the pages that follow here.

Collectively, we in CSTPR have identified four priority areas of engagement with our ongoing work:

  1. Science and Technology Policy: we forge ahead with analyses of decisions at the science-policy interface, including making public and private investments in science and technology, governing the usability of scientific information, and critically engaging the scientific and technical construction of emerging issues.
  2. Innovations in Governance and Sustainability: we continue to study innovations in governance and the complexity of sustainability challenges, including the development of new institutions that transcend conventional political boundaries or bring actors together in new ways, new tools and experimental interventions for inducing behavioral change or enabling participation in decision making, and new forms of association in the creation and protection of collective goods.
  3. Drivers of Risk Management Decisions: we move ahead with interrogations regarding how individuals and institutions – at local, regional, national, and international scales – make decisions to respond and adapt to perceived risks, and what factors promote or inhibit effective decision making.
  4. Communication and Societal Change: we press forward with experimentation and critical analyses of communication strategies and engagement in varying cultural, political and societal contexts.

You’ll spot imprints of these key themes among the highlights noted in this report, through our ongoing investment in the Science and Technology Policy graduate certificate program, the revamped Prometheus 2.0 blog, our brownbag seminar series, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (AAAS CASE) workshop student competition, and the CU-Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre internship program. These are just some of the many important commitments that we have made in 2016 that continue into this year and beyond.

From my vantage point as Director of CSTPR, I am very proud of our CSTPR efforts to develop, maintain and continue active collaborations so that scientific work finds traction in science-policy and public arenas at CU Boulder and beyond. I hope you will enjoy reading through this report and getting a sense of our accomplishments from 2016, and our activities going forward.

Max Boykoff, Director
Annual Report [pdf]

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More Than Scientists: So what’s our story going to be?

Rebecca Safran, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado Boulder

There have been many moments in human history when people have come together and created revolutionary change for the better. There have also been many human civilizations that have fallen because of massive changes in climate. So Rebecca asks, what’s our story going to be? [video]

In this Inside the Greenhouse project, Fall semester ‘Climate and Film’ (ATLS 3519/EBIO 4460) students and Spring semester ‘Creative Climate Communication’ (ENVS3173/THTR4173) students, along with the More than Scientists campaign, create and produce a short video based on an interview of a climate scientist in the local Boulder area, depicting human/personal dimensions of their work.

These scientists work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), Wester Water Assessment(WWA), the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) and various other units at CU-Boulder (e.g. Atmospheric Sciences Department, Environmental Studies Program, Geography Department, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department).

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