They may not like it, but scientists must work with Donald Trump

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Jack Stilgoe and Roger Pielke Jr: As they recover from Donald Trump’s shock victory, US scientists must ask themselves three big questions.

The Guardian
November 11, 2016

Donald Trump has won. Science and scientists played almost no part in the campaign. Now, scientists must consider how they fit into a Trump future. This won’t be easy. Many scientists are scared. In the tribal world of US politics, many now find themselves on the outside looking in. Most university scientists are Democrats, and the 2017 President, House and Senate will all be Republican. For this group, nothing portends disaster more than the elevation of a long-time opponent to national and international policies, Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, to oversee the transformation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Even those academics who lean Republican (many of whom are engineers, since you ask) would despise Trump’s rejection of what a George W Bush adviser once dismissed as the “reality-based community” (that is, anyone interested in prioritising evidence over faith).

While speculating on details like who Trump will ask to replace John Holdren as his science advisor, scientists should not just be asking what Trump will do for them. They should face up to the difficult question of what they should be doing for Trump.

Some scientists will have to join the White House itself. When George W. Bush was elected, his administration had a hard time finding a scientist willing to serve as his science advisor. When Jack Marburger, a highly respected administrator and physicist who was also a Democrat, took the job he was excoriated by his peers and excommunicated from some scientific circles. We see hints of similar responses to Trump’s election already. Earlier this week the American Physical Society issued a press release congratulating Trump on his victory and encouraging him to “make sustained and robust funding of scientific research a top priority.” The APS received so many complaints that it felt compelled to retract it and issue an apology.

Some have already written off Trump’s yet-to-be-named science advisor. For instance, Robert Cook-Deegan of Arizona State University says, “For Trump, I’m not sure [his science advisor] would matter, because there won’t be any ‘policy’ apparatus… Science won’t get much attention, except when it gets in the way or bolsters support for a political priority.” Marburger was called a “prostitute” upon taking the position under Bush.

There are thousands of political appointees, including many science positions, that will need to be nominated, expert advisory bodies constituted and reconstituted, and experts put into staff positions under the White House. Any scientist who agrees to hold their nose and work with the Trump administration should expect much of the same criticism received by Marburger. Some, such as government scientists, will not have much choice but to engage. That is their job. The rest of the scientific community must still ask itself some difficult questions. We suggest three. Read more …

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More Than Scientists: Optimism, family, helping others …

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With a big focus on family and helping others, Phil Talyor of INSTAAR shares his philosophy of life and optimism! [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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Jeff O’Neil, Legislative Assistant to US Congressman Ed Perlmutter

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Augusto González has joined CSTPR through December 2016 while he is on an EU Fellowship from the European Commission in Brussels. Below is a portion of a blog post from Augusto’s Exploring Space Commercialisation in Colorado Blog.

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (Colorado) is a staunch advocate of space development and, notably, space exploration. He is a vocal proponent of Mars exploration and is leading a quest for human travel to Mars to take place in 2033 – a year in which planetary alignment would make the trip significantly shorter.

Congressman Perlmutter has a long record of fighting for the space sector and space programmes. When the Constellation programme was shelved, he spearheaded efforts to ensure the survival of Orion Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle, whose prime contractor is Lockheed Martin, a company with a strong presence in Colorado. He has also been active on regulatory issues, where the main preoccupation is that regulations meet the standards needed to keep up with industry development and that industry has the necessary legal certainty to conduct their businesses.

In Jeff’s opinion “commercial space” is a misnomer. U.S. space manufacturing companies are all commercial. However, most of these companies have traditionally done most of their work under federal government contracts. Therefore, speak of commercial space does not necessarily convey a clear idea of what is it that the expression actually refers to.
Clearly government investment in ISS – be it cargo or crew space transportation – is a powerhouse that enables the space companies growth. In Jeff’s opinion, Space X is no more commercial than Lockheed Martin or Boeing which have been traditional contractors for NASA. If dependence on federal government funding is what defines whether a space activity is commercial, there are companies that may be considered as more truly “commercial” than those mentioned before.

When looking into space activities one has to recognise that there are very different types of industries. Launcher industry is very specific and likely to remain closely connected to Federal government funding. Companies that seek to develop exclusively or primarily commercial business models, i.e. companies whose existence is not determined by or dependent on government funding, are in a different category. These companies are confronted with a different set of issues than those for which government funding is an essential lifeline. It may be necessary to see if there is a need for regulatory adaptations to cater for those differences. Read more …

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2017 Radford Byerly, Jr. Award in Science and Technology Policy

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In 2002, testifying before the Committee on Science in the US House of Representatives in a hearing on ‘New Directions for Climate Research and Technology Initiatives’, Rad Byerly quipped “Politics is not a dirty word. In a democracy it is how we resolve conflicts of values.” This articulate and insightful comment pierced the mood, and illustrated Rad’s keen ability to step up and confront vexing US science-policy challenges.

Rad passed away last January after an impressive career that included a postdoctoral fellowship at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA) at CU Boulder, and more than twenty years as staff on and ultimately Director of the Science Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. He also was Director of the Center for Space and Geosciences Policy at CU Boulder.  Rad spent the last years of his career with the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR) at CU Boulder, where he was known as a mentor, adviser and friend with a wicked sense of humor.

In recognition of Rad’s contributions to and impact on the CSTPR community, CSTPR has established the Radford Byerly, Jr. Award in Science and Technology Policy.  Through this program CSTPR will present a monetary award in 2017 to a CU Boulder graduate student with a demonstrated commitment to making a significant contribution to science and technology policy in his or her work. The award competition will be announced sometime in early 2017.

Please consider making a donation to the award.  You can do so either by

  • Writing a check to the University of Colorado Foundation (reference # 0125500 on the subject line of the check—without this, the donation cannot be applied to the Rad Byerly award!).  Send the check to: Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, 1333 Grandview Ave., Campus Box 488, Boulder, CO 80309-0488. Attention Robin

OR

Thank you for your support!

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More Than Scientists: I wish I could just scream and let everybody know how big this is!

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A first-hand report as Mike MacFerrin at University of Colorado Boulder
shows us extraordinary ice melt on Greenland. What will be the effects of the changing climate and what gives him hope? [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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Drilling Narratives, Self-Government, and the Rights of Nature

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by Jessica Rich, CIRES/CSTPR Postdoctoral Research Associate

Photo above: Strip mining site in the Ohio Valley, USA. Credit: Jessica Rich.

Over the past five years, I studied the narratives that emerged from conflicts over oil and gas drilling across the Midwestern United States. As a communication researcher, I am interested in how humans give meaning to changing environments but also how environments give meaning to human action. Speaking with residents living atop the Marcellus and Utica shale basins, I learned how place plays an active role in their lives at work and at home. While visiting a small Ohio Valley town, once known for its coal mines, I met a retired couple who grew up, settled down, and made their livelihood within a few square miles of their current home. As the region’s policymakers discovered the lucrative potential of unconventional drilling in the last decade, local communities saw their environment change dramatically but had little to no say in the environmental decision-making process. I toured the area with the couple I met, as they pointed out the drill sites, which had been built on top of old mining sites, which had been dug into a once agricultural landscape. The environment, whether mined, drilled, or farmed, actively participated in the couple’s narrative and their identity. Personal stories of the changing landscapes uncovered relations between community, the natural environment, and between individual and industrial histories.

Since arriving as a CIRES/CSTPR postdoctoral researcher in September and participating in ongoing conversations about environmental and climate policy, questions have begun to emerge for me about how nature is defined in policy and the narratives that these policies make possible. What meanings are given to human-nature relations in the policies that govern environmental decision-making? What assumptions underlie the socio-ecological relations that policy legitimizes? Too often, environmental policy is anthropocentric, sliding between conceptualizations of nature as a resource from which to profit and nature as an entity to be preserved for human enjoyment. Rarely, do policies encourage the right of nature to exist beyond its economic utility, bringing about consequences that are local and global.

As I begin my research of drilling discourses in the West, I am learning of the actions taken by some Coloradoans to fight for local control over oil and gas siting and development. The Colorado Community Rights Network’s efforts, in particular, highlight how human-nature relations intersect in the struggle for local self-government. In their official declaration, the CCRN “[joins] together with other statewide movements to amend the federal Constitution to elevate the rights of people and communities above the claimed rights of corporations, create legal rights for natural ecosystems, eliminate the commerce clause, and other impediments to local community self-governance.” Taking cue from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and the UN Rights of Nature Law and Policy, not to mention a history of indigenous knowledge and action, CCRN’s proposal moves conceptualizations of human-nature relations from one based in ownership toward “recognizing that ecosystems and natural communities are not merely property that can be owned, but are entities that have an independent right to exist and flourish” and an awareness of the “inherent rights of Nature to exist, thrive and evolve.” While CCRN’s recent efforts to include their proposed measures in the November ballot were stalled, local proposals have been enacted elsewhere in the U.S. in response to unconventional drilling. The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania passed a similar local self-government ordinance in 2010 in response to the growth of drilling in the Marcellus.

Communicating policy is a political act, and the meanings given to nature constitute the possibilities for its governance and have the power to reimagine cooperative narratives between humans and non-human nature. How nature is defined in policy, as seen with CCRN’s recent proposals, can encourage communities to reflect not only on nature’s meaning but also a shared purpose and fate. As I develop my post-doctoral research over the next two years, I look forward to connecting with researchers and local communities to develop more just ecological and political futures through policy and action.

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More Than Scientists Video: I Do Have Hope For The Future

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Seeing and studying the environmental change around us gives Carol Wessman of CU Boulder a very intimate connection to the environment. And being among all the students at CU and seeing their skills and talent gives her hope and trust that we’re in good hands. [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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BoBW 2016: Recent Trends in Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development

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by Lee Frankel-Goldwater

On September 26th, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend and present at the Best of Both World’s Conference on Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable development at YMCA in Estes Park just outside of Boulder. Driving into the parking lot in front of the log cabin conference hall, I found myself surrounded by mountains and embraced by the crisp clean air Colorado is so famous for. It was the perfect setting for an environmental educator’s research and practice gathering. Hope, passion and action are a hallmark of this community – an understanding drawing from a belief that social action, environmental protection, and humanistic integrity must intertwine to bring about transitions to sustainability. Moreover, this is a group of risk takers, as many outside the fold of environmental and educational program development perceive this work to be rose colored, and perhaps unworthy for inclusion in the agenda of large-scale initiatives for socio-environmental change. If this conference demonstrated any one point, it is that environmental and sustainability education have wide reaching implications for bringing about transitions towards worldwide understanding and community-based initiatives for empowerment and environmental justice.

Several workshops and sessions I attended exemplified this in particular and I encourage researchers and practitioners alike to explore these contributions for their own programs:

Citizen Science on the GO: New Mobile Tools for Environmental Education, Monitoring, and Research [Russanne Low, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Arlington, VA, U.S.A.] Institute For Global Environmental Strategies

The Visionaria Network: Leadership and Empowerment Training [Kali Basman, The Visionaria Network, Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.] Visionaria Network

ACEER’s Environmental Education Programs in Peru: Developing Citizens and Leaders in the Heart of the Amazon [Paul Morgan, West Chester University, West Chester, PA, U.S.A.] ACEER – Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research

My own presentation was on an authentic learning model I developed and tested for teaching whole systems thinking and environmental citizenship in an undergraduate classroom setting: Social Responsibility and the World of Nature – BoBW Conference Presentation by Lee Frankel-Goldwater. The effort was well received, though I humbly recognize that many researchers and practitioners are creating impacts far more significant than my own. Overall, it was the conference trends that were so fascinating for me. I share a few of these here to spark conversation, and would be glad to connect with readers interested in learning more about any of these items so we can continue to grow and learn together:

  1. Applications of digital technologies and communication tools are a major trend in environmental and sustainability education, and many researchers and practitioners are exploring expanded use for broader, leaner, and global impacts towards socio-ecological change.
  2. Environmental and sustainability education programs are an international phenomenon, though often localized, and networking these programs into global initiatives maybe a step to improving global environmental citizenship and scaling worldwide impacts.
  3. Community-based action research and citizen science can be vital contributions to knowledge alongside environmental and sustainability education practices. Learning to integrate these methods with wider disciplinary contexts in the natural and social sciences may help to bring about a day when we can achieve the elusive Best of Both Worlds.
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Spectacular Environmentalisms: Media, Knowledge and the Framing of Ecological Politics

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by Michael Goodman, Jo Littler, Dan Brockington and Max Boykoff

Part of a Special Issue co-edited by Max Boykoff in Environmental Communication, 2016

As we move firmly into the so-called Anthropocene – an era defined by human-induced global environmental change, neoliberal, consumer capitalism and the unprecedented flow of media, knowledge and communication – how is it that we know about the environment? More specifically: how is it we know about human–environment relationships – those tension-filled, ever-present, often-obscured, but inescapable relationships that are most likely overlain by some form of a market? How do we know about the ecological destruction embedded in these current human–environment relationships? How do we know what to do about the increasingly solid specters of climate change and irretrievable biodiversity losses as well as the ordinarily polluted cities and fields many live in and count on for survival?

As we and the authors of this special issue of Environmental Communication contend, given the growing prominence of media and celebrity in environmental politics, we now increasingly know about the environment through different forms, processes and aspects of the spectacle and, in particular, the spectacular environments of a progressively diverse media-scape. Moreover – and forming the core focus of this issue – we argue that we are more and more being told about how to “solve” ecological problems through spectacular environmentalisms: environmentally-focused media spaces that are differentially political, normative and moralized and that traverse our everyday public and private lifeworlds.

The contributions published here derive from a series of UK-based Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Network-funded seminars and our own research projects. Hailing from a range of different disciplines including geography, media and cultural studies, environmental science, anthropology, sociology and development studies, we came together to try to better understand the relationships amongst spectacular forms of media and environmental issues. Initially prompted by the editors’ interests in celebrity politics in the context of global humanitarianism (Brockington, 2014 Brockington, D. (2014). Celebrity advocacy and international development. London: Routledge.; Goodman, 2010 Goodman, M. K. (2010). The Mirror of consumption: Celebritization, developmental consumption and the shifting cultural politics of fair trade. Geoforum, 41, 104116. doi: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2009.08.003[CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]; Goodman & Barnes, 2011 Goodman, M. K., & Barnes, C. (2011). Star poverty space: The making of the “development celebrity”. Celebrity Studies, 2(1), 6985. doi: 10.1080/19392397.2011.544164[Taylor & Francis Online]; Littler, 2008 Littler, J. (2008). “I feel your pain”: Cosmopolitan charity and the public fashioning of the celebrity soul. Social Semiotics, 18(2), 237251. doi: 10.1080/10350330802002416[Taylor & Francis Online]), philanthrocapitalism (Goodman, 2013 Goodman, M. K. (2013). Celebritus politicus: Neo-liberal sustainabilities and the terrains of care. In G. Fridell & M. Konings (Eds.), Age of icons: Exploring philanthrocapitalism in the contemporary world (pp. 7292). Toronto: Toronto Press.; Littler, 2009 Littler, J. (2009). Radical consumption: Shopping for change in contemporary culture. London: Open University Press., 2015 Littler, J. (2015). The new Victorians: Celebrity charity and the demise of the welfare state. Celebrity Studies, 6(4), 471485. doi: 10.1080/19392397.2015.1087213[Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®]) and the environment (Boykoff & Goodman, 2009 Boykoff, M. T., & Goodman, M. K. (2009). Conspicuous redemption? Reflections on the promises and perils of the “celebritization” of climate change. Geoforum, 40, 395406. doi: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2008.04.006[CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]; Boykoff, Goodman, & Curtis, 2009 Boykoff, M. T., Goodman, M. K., & Curtis, I. (2009). Cultural politics of climate change: Interactions in everyday spaces. In M. Boykoff (Ed.), The politics of climate change: A survey (pp. 136154). London: Routledge/Europa.; Boykoff, Goodman, & Littler, 2010 Boykoff, M., Goodman, M., & Littler, J. (2010). Charismatic megafauna’: The growing power of celebrities and pop culture in climate change campaigns. Environment, Politics and Development Working Paper Series, WP#28, Department of Geography, King’s College London. Retrieved from http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/geography/research/Research-Domains/Contested-Development/BoykoffetalWP28.pdf; Brockington, 2008 Brockington, D. (2008). Powerful environmentalisms: Conservation, celebrity and capitalism. Media, Culture and Society, 30(4), 551568. doi: 10.1177/01634437080300040701[CrossRef], [Web of Science ®], 2009 Brockington, D. (2009). Celebrity and the environment. London: Zed Books.; Goodman & Littler, 2013 Goodman, M., & Littler, J. (2013). Celebrity ecologies: Introduction. Celebrity Studies, 4, 269275. doi: 10.1080/19392397.2013.831623[Taylor & Francis Online]) – as well as by key media and environment texts by those in our network (Anderson, 2014 Anderson, A. (2014). Media, environment and the network society. London: Palgrave Macmillan.[CrossRef]; Doyle, 2011 Doyle, J. (2011). Mediating climate change. Aldershot: Ashgate.; Hansen, 2010 Hansen, A. (2010). Environment, media and communication. London: Routledge.; Lester, 2010 Lester, L. (2010). Media and environment. Cambridge: Polity Press.; Maxwell & Miller, 2012 Maxwell, R., & Miller, T. (2012). Greening the media. Oxford: Oxford University Press.) – our collective conversations ranged across the multiplicity of meanings produced through environmental mediation, the role of media industries in ecological politics, pro-environmental celebrity promotion, anti-environmental greenwashing, the locations of agency in environmental change and the psychosocial affective dis/connections with more-than-human natures.

Put another way, our interests lie in critically examining the contemporary cultural politics of the environment – those contested processes by which environmental meanings are constructed and negotiated across space, place and at various scales which, in this case, involve assemblages of science, media, culture, environment and politics. As the contributions to this issue demonstrate, these assemblages involve not only the “clear and present” spectacle-ized representations that gain traction in diverse media discourses, but also the many reverberations, feedbacks – and crucially – silences that heavily inform affective relationships with the environment. Interrogating the mediated features of spectacular environmentalisms through its solid and more ghostly forms—both of which are bound to positionalities, material realities and social practices (Hall, 1997 Hall, S. (Ed.). (1997). Representation: Cultural representation and signifying practices. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.) – illuminates questions of how power and influence infuse the constructions of varied environmental knowledges, norms, conventions and “truths.” In short, these politicized media processes influence a range of equally politicized ways of seeing, being with and relating to diverse environments through the tethering of the spectacular to the discourses and practices of the everyday (de Certeau, 1984 de Certeau, M. (1984). The practice of everyday life (S. Rendall, Trans.). Berkeley: University of California Press.; Cox & Pezzullo, 2015 Cox, R. J., & Pezzullo, P. (2015). Environmental communication and the public sphere (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.; Foucault, 1980 Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge. New York, NY: Pantheon.). Read more …

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Climate Justice Beyond International Burden Sharing

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by Steven Vanderheiden
Midwest Studies In Philosophy, 2016

Climate justice scholars have in recent years devoted considerable attention to the development and application of justice principles and frameworks to the architecture of global climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. The resulting scholarly literature is now rife with burden-sharing or resource-sharing mitigation prescriptions that call for far more aggressive actions than are ever considered as viable policy options, along with proposals for singular or hybrid principles for assigning adaptation liability that follow sound normative analyses but have gained little traction among policymakers (Gardiner 2013; Harris 2016; Moellendorf 2014; Vanderheiden 2007). With their gaze fixed primarily upon macro-level substantive policy outcomes, scholars have paid less attention to the way that justice might be applied at other levels of analysis and operationalized through the institutions of international climate policy development and implementation.

As a result, there now exists a rich scholarly literature on how much various state parties should contribute toward mitigation efforts or in adaptation aid, but little analysis of the links between the functioning of policy development institutions like those of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or the implementation of mechanisms like REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), which work toward the practical realization of climate justice. Indeed, the “justice” analysis of climate justice has been largely preoccupied with the international allocation of resources or burdens, rather than focusing upon allocations of such resources or burdens at other scales, procedures by which policies are developed and implemented, or how such resources are to governed. As a result, the gap between what scholars have called for as a matter of climate justice and what is politically and institutionally feasible has grown, with ideal theory work on environmental justice ironically making its own prescriptions appear to be decreasingly obtainable in consequence of their widening distance from the practical political means available for bringing them about.

This feasibility gap is, of course, no objection to the important work that has been done in articulating climate justice imperatives through normative principles and analytical frameworks of political theory and philosophy. As a critical discourse, climate justice necessarily stands at some distance from that which is politically feasible, and its absence of practical manifestation need not count against its critical power. Rather, the observations above are meant to highlight the narrow purview of much of the existing climate justice literature, which has richly developed analyses of the substantive ends of international climate policy—chiefly, the protection against exacerbated inequality resulting from either climate change itself or the policy measures adopted to address it—while paying comparatively little attention to the several other justice imperatives that apply to those same problems and policy efforts. Here, I hope to expand this purview by examining how justice might apply to other scales and aspects on international climate policy, along with how the causal or conceptual links between various incarnations of climate justice might sharpen understanding of the normative bases of its several imperatives. Read more …

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More Than Scientists Video: It’s An Exciting Time To Be Young

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Following a historical perspective from the first early global warming forecasts, Brian Toon looks to us for solutions. And with so many opportunities to work on important problems, he suggests it’s an exciting time for young people to choose a personal mission! [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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AGU Chairs Caucus to Support Earth and Space Science in the House

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by Abigail Ahlert, Science Writing Intern

The House of Representatives is getting a bad reputation when it comes to science. But there are a few Representatives—11 out of 435, to be exact—that are formally pushing for broader awareness and funding of Earth and space science. Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO-2) and Congressman David Jolly (R-FL-13) are Co-Chairs of the new House Earth and Space Science Caucus. The caucus launched on September 14, 2016 with a reception in the Rayburn House Office Building. Current members include:

Donald Beyer (D-VA-08)
Michael Capuano (D-MA-07)
Judy Chu (D-CA-27)
Mike Honda (D-CA-17)
Grace Napolitano (D-CA-32)
Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-07)
Mark Pocan (D-WI-02)
Scott Tipton (R-CO-03)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12)

When asked about his motivation for chairing the caucus, Congressman Polis said, “In the 21st century, it’s crucial to continue to broaden awareness and align policy with Earth and space sciences. The House Earth and Space Sciences Caucus will focus on placing scientific research and evidence in the forefront of congressional and national discussions, while also continuing to support ideas that will promote STEM education programs for the next generation.  I’m honored to be the Democratic Co-Chair and look forward to the accomplishments we’ll achieve.”

The caucus alliance is chaired by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a non-profit scientific association with more than 62,000 members, which will also serve as the primary congressional contact. AGU has participated in caucuses before, such as the Hazards Caucus Alliance, but intends to play a more involved role in the House Earth and Space Science Caucus. AGU expects that chairing the caucus alliance will provide a more concerted community effort and greater participation in the events that they typically host on the Hill.

I asked Brittany Webster, Public Affairs Specialist at AGU, how the organization got involved with the House Earth and Space Science Caucus in the first place. She said, “In 2015, the House of Representatives had an authorizing and appropriations bill that included language that sought to deprioritize the geosciences. AGU and other organizations through education and advocacy efforts was able to get that language struck from legislation that eventually became law.” Building upon the momentum of these efforts, AGU and partnering organizations chose to form a caucus in the House of Representatives. They reached out to Congressmen Polis and Jolly to act as the chairs, whom Webster referred to as “champions of the geosciences’’.

In the 115th Congress (January 2017 through January 2019), the House Earth and Space Caucus aims to host quarterly events, starting with an “Earth and Space Science 101” briefing in the first 101 days of Congress and an additional briefing on a specific policy topic. They also hope to organize an exhibition highlighting public and private sector partners to demonstrate how Earth and space science addresses national needs. Finally, the caucus is planning an interactive field trip for Congressional staffers to visit a lab or center related to Earth and space science. All proposed events will be discussed and finalized in 2017.

AGU is currently looking for organizations to join the House Earth and Space Science Caucus alliance. For more information on how to get involved, contact Brittany Webster.

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Mountains of Possibilities

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by Beth Osnes
Inside the Greenhouse and Theatre & Dance Department, CU Boulder

I’m on the RTD Skyride bus coming home to Boulder and, like every time I come home to Colorado, I am blown away by the majesty and beauty of this place. I feel gratitude to live where I can watch the sun set over plates of the earth’s crust jutting out into the sky. I’m coming home from the Imagining America Conference (#ImaginingAmerica) for publically engaged scholarship in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Reflecting on that experience while looking at that big sky over the Rocky Mountains, I feel a kind of rising of my own yearning to collide what I gained from this gathering with the work I am privileged to do with Inside the Greenhouse (@ITG_Boulder), an initiative on the CU campus for creative climate communication. How can we make our students’ creative artifacts jut out farther into the public conversation? How can we engage our students more thoroughly into the exceptional landscape of our natural environment and the expanse of the public conversation surrounding climate issues? At Imagining America I feel like I gained some great ideas for rejuvenating our work and describing our aims with even more urgency and purpose.

One of my favorite sessions of the conference (and the one that had the most direct relevance to the work I do) was entitled “Our Changing Climate” (#ourchangingclimate) and was presented by N. Claire Napawan, Sheryl-Ann Simpson, and Brett Snyder, all professors at UC Davis. They presented on a participatory environmental design project that engages San Francisco Bay Area communities with issues of climate change by integrating youth perspectives with social media. At one point we were sent out in groups to explore aspects of community resilience we spotted on the campus of UW Milwaukee. I loved their approach to participatory urbanism that engages non-designers in thinking about the design for their city. Their focus on engaging youth voices in city resilience planning is related to my work using performance towards the same aim.

Night has fallen in the fifty minutes it took to get from the airport to Boulder. I can’t see our mountains anymore, but I know they are there. Although each of us from Imaging America has returned to our respective homes, we hold the knowledge that we are part of a vibrant community of artists, designers, and publicly engaged scholars rejuvenated in imagining what America can be and how our roles in higher education can give expression to that dream. The bus driver just called my stop. Chances are I’ll make it home in time for dinner.

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Augusto González On EU Space Policy

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by Alison Gilchrist,  Science Writing Intern

On October 12th at noon, Augusto González will give a seminar (available via webcast) at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR) about the European Union and space: the history of Europe’s space policy, how Europe is currently handling space policy and commercialization, and future EU objectives.

Augusto González has worked for the European Union (EU) for almost 30 years. He started on a temporary contract and in 1991 he became an official in the European Commission (the executive body of the European Union) where he has worked ever since.

Since 1991, González has been involved in numerous aspects of the European Commission’s policy. He has worked in education policy, program design and legislation, finance of space programs, and in human resources. Along the way he became most interested in space policy and programs. Now, he works as Adviser to the Director for EU Satellite Navigation Programmes in the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises.

The EU gives fellowships for officials to take a visitor position at participating universities, where they can conduct research as well as give seminars about EU organization, objectives and priorities. González chose to come to Colorado to study commercial activities in space. Besides being a beautiful place to spend a year, Colorado has a rich history in space commercialization and research. While he is here, he will give a number of seminars on EU policy and space commercialization and regulation.

His October 12th seminar will focus on three areas: the reasons that the EU is interested in space policy, its present programs and current reflections on future objectives.

As González says, “the EU is not a space agency. Why are we involved in space?” He will talk about why the EU has defined objectives for space policy and what it is doing to achieve these objectives.

“This will not be a personal talk,” he explains when asked if he will be discussing his own part in writing space policy. “I want students to understand how the EU works and what we do in space.”

The talk promises to be a fascinating look at regulation of a quickly changing and ever expanding field as well as an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of how EU policy-making proceeds.

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More Than Scientists Video: Snow and Ice – Disappearing Before Our Very Eyes

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A world without snow is hard to imagine. Of course we’ll always have some, but for someone who’s always loved the outdoors and studies snow and ice cover, the losses we’re seeing are hard. Jen Kay of CIRES talks about her experiences, those of communities on the front lines, and what we can all do about it. [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 Graduate Certificate in Science and Technology Policy

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How do science and technology affect policymaking? How does policymaking affect science and technology?

by Abigail Ahlert, Science Writing Intern

For the past 12 years, the Graduate Certificate in Science and Technology Policy program has been helping people explore these questions and more. The goal of the program is to prepare graduate students for careers at the interface of science, technology, and decision making. Certificate program students strive to understand the broad societal context of science and technology, as well as gain insight to the methodologies of policy analysis. The program has graduated 27 students and has 27 currently enrolled. Courses that satisfy the program’s 18-credit requirement span environmental science, economics, law and philosophy.

Recently, an informal survey of current and former students was conducted to gauge satisfaction with the certificate program. The survey spans the perspectives of students who have participated in the program as early as 2004 and as recently as this year. One wrote, “While I have only completed one core and one elective course so far, I already feel that the program has broadened my exposure to possible roles for people with scientific and technical backgrounds to influence policy. I have also learned much about the ways in which data is gathered to assess public opinion of scientific research and science policy.”

Another student said, “The certificate program introduced me to new perspectives about the role of science that did not come with my research training. I left the program with the ability to think broadly about the implications of research on the policy process, as well as the impact of policy on the scientific community. Importantly, when I applied for fellowship programs and awards, the certificate was documented proof of my interest and commitment to science policy.”

The survey results indicate that the Graduate Certificate has been crucial for many students’ professional development and very helpful for job entry. One student said that the course “Science, Technology and Society” (STS) was “one of the most important classes I have ever taken”.

I sat down with Dr. Alexander Lee, a lecturer for CSTPR and CU’s Department Environmental Studies, who this semester is teaching STS—one of the required courses for the Graduate Certificate. Dr. Lee’s curriculum for the course centers around seminal science and technology policy texts (such as Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) and, admittedly, topics that he finds interesting. Though he specializes in environmental ethics, he likes to keep the course broad. “It wouldn’t be unusual for a class like this [in an ENVS program] to focus on just issues like climate change or ecological degradation, whereas I think it’s very important to understand those issues in the broader context of science and society,” says Dr. Lee.

He says that the idea of providing scientists with policy and communication skills is not new, but the formalization of it into a certificate program is relatively uncommon. “Often scientists—and when I worked as a glaciologist I found this—are required to use technical language and put technical constraints on how you present things, and that’s not always the most effective way science can be communicated and works in the world as a tool,” says Dr. Lee. He thinks that scientists should be able to effectively write and talk about science in a general way.

So why is it important to engage scientists in policymaking? Dr. Lee noted that scientists are often acknowledged as “experts” in their field and believes that it’s important for scientists to understand this responsibility and what it means in a social context.

In terms of the future of science policy, he says, “We’re hitting a lot of really novel issues in science policy…we are facing what I think are truly new types problems as a global community, whether it be climate change or the technological revolution that we’re currently in. It seems like these are global in scale, exponential in growth, and not well analogous to problems in the past.”

All in all, programs like CSTPR’s Graduate Certificate help to bridge disciplines and effectively utilize new information and diverse skill sets. For more information on the Graduate Certificate in Science and Technology, please visit this link and contact Ami Nacu-Schmidt at ami.nacu-schmidt@colorado.edu.

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Climate in Context: Science and Society Partnering for Adaptation

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Society is increasingly affected by climate impacts, from prolonged water shortages to damaging coastal floods and wildfires. Scientists studying climate variations are eager to have their knowledge used in adaptive decision making. To achieve this, science and society must engage productively around complex management and policy challenges. For over 20 years, the science-society interface has been fertile ground for the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) programs sponsored by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Climate in Context (Wiley and Sons, 2016) describes what it takes to help scientists and stakeholders work together to “co-produce” climate science knowledge, policy, and action. This state-of-the art synthesis reflects on lessons learned by RISA programs, and provides a sober assessment of the challenges ahead. Through case studies from various US regions, this book provides lessons and guidance for organizations and individuals who want to work at the science-society interface on a range of climate challenges.

The following two chapters have been coauthored by CSTPR’s Lisa Dilling:

Chapter 1 Assessing needs and decision contexts: RISA approaches to engagement research by C. Simpson, L. Dilling, K. Dow, K. Lackstrom, M.C. Lemos, and R. Riley

Chapter 11 Navigating scales of knowledge and decision-making in the Intermountain West: Implications for science policy by E, Gordon, L. Dilling, E. McNie, and A. Ray

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CU Boulder Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre Internship Program

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Improving Environmental Communication and Adaptation Decision-making in the Humanitarian Sector

Application Deadline:  Thursday December 15, 2016
Submit your application to redcross@colorado.edu

CU-Boulder has partnered with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCRCCC) to place graduate students in locations in eastern and southern Africa each summer. This collaborative program targets improvements in environmental communication and adaptation decision-making as well as disaster prevention and preparedness in the humanitarian sector. It connects humanitarian practitioners from the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre – an affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – with graduate student researchers at the University of Colorado who are interested in science-policy issues. Through this program we strive to accomplish three key objectives:

  1. to improve the capacity of humanitarian practitioners within International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies network at the interface of science, policy and practice
  2. to help meet needs and gaps as well as work as a research clearing house in environmental communication and adaptation decision-making in response to climate variability and change, as identified through Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre priorities and projects
  3. to benefit graduate students by complementing the classes and research that they undertake in their graduate program with real-world experience in climate applications and development work

This internship program will place 1-2 PhD and/or Master’s degree students in an IFRC regional field office, a National Society branch office, or with a partner organization for a period of approximately 3 months.

The RCRCCC supervisors will liaise with specific IFRC field offices to identify potential projects and placements. Once projects are identified, RCRCCC supervisors will work with CU Boulder Director Max Boykoff, CU Boulder Graduate Coordinator Arielle Tozier de la Poterie and the student to design a scope of work. Projects can encompass, but are not limited to, topics such as the use of scientific information in decision making, communication of probability and uncertainty, perceptions of risk, and characterizing vulnerability and adaptive capacity.  Placements in the field will address specific needs identified by IFRC field staff related to challenges of science communication and adaptation decision-making.

Participants will participate in a one-credit independent study/reading group ENVS 5909-902/CSTP 5909 designed to familiarize them with the Red Cross/Red Crescent organization and other topics of relevance to adequately prepare for field placements. The reading group will meet every other week at a time agreed to by the participants and the instructor in the CSTPR conference room during the Spring 2017 semester.

Participants will also be required to write six blog posts from the field during this placement, give some presentations (e.g. in ENVS, in the CSTPR brownbag series) upon return, and complete a report at the conclusion of their internship detailing their experience and research outcomes.

$5,000 funding in total will be provided to offset expenses (in-country housing, food, airfare and in-country transportation). Expenses can vary widely depending on the location and nature of the placement. Interns will work with CU-affiliated travel agents to arrange round-trip airfare to their field site. Due to this $5,000 limit, applicants are encouraged to seek additional funds from alternate sources, as expenses can exceed this budgeted amount.

This CU-Boulder program has now placed these six students in in locations of eastern and southern Africa:

  • Sierra Gladfelter (Geography, MS) Lusaka, Zambia
  • Drew Zackary (Anthropology PhD), Apac and Otuke, Uganda
  • Leslie Dodson (ATLAS PhD), Lusaka, Zambia and Capetown, South Africa
  • Amy Quandt (ENVS PhD), Isiolo, Kenya
  • Arielle Tozier de la Poterie (ENVS PhD), Soroti, Uganda
  • Kanmani Venkateswaran (ENVS, MS), Lusaka, Zambia

Past project topics have included analysis of uses of regional climate forecasts to trigger anticipatory humanitarian action and examinations of ways to improve the linking of science-based forecasts with humanitarian decisions. More information on the specifics of all these placements and activities can be found here.

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More Than Scientists Video: The Question is How Rapidly and How Large

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Kevin Trenberth, distinguished scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, explains that the issue isn’t that the climate is changing — it’s really how rapidly it’s changing and how large those changes are.  [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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Co-Producing Actionable Science for Water Utilities

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by Jason Vogel, Elizabeth McNie, David Behar
Climate Services, 2016

Our recent paper, “Co-producing actionable science for water utilities” (Vogel et al., 2016), examined how four water utilities in New York City, Portland, Seattle, and Tampa Bay, all members of the Water Utility Climate Alliance, used a ‘chain of models’ approach that emphasized collaboration between scientists and decision makers to produce useful, climate-relevant information over the first three years of their Piloting Utility Modeling Applications project. These collaborations helped utilities fit climate information into their specific management context. We found that in order to produce useful information, these partnerships focused on making the research context-sensitive and relevant, developing knowledge networks, and taking an entrepreneurial approach to assessment.

Each water utility engaged in a ‘chain-of-models’ exercise to better understand how climate changes might affect their water systems. The chain-of-models refers to the sequence of climate, hydrologic, and water operations models used to apply climate change information to water utility decision making.  By running climate projections thorough this chain-of-models, the impacts of projected climate changes can be understood and water utilities can consider taking adaptation action to prepare for or alleviate those potential impacts.

Our first finding, consistent with the literature on co-production, determined that context matters in a number of ways. First, the research questions were generated not by researchers working independently from water managers, but rather, with them, ensuring that the research questions took each utility’s immediate needs into consideration, resulting in research that was highly relevant. Second, possible extreme events that the utilities could experience were contextualized for their specific region and addressed specific questions posed by the utilities, so that the resulting science could fit easily into existing decision frameworks. Third, the researchers worked with each utility to customize the hydrometeorology to ensure that the models used could fit with existing technical capacities of each each utility.

Our second finding, also consistent with the literature on co-production, illustrated the importance of knowledge networks and active partnerships with scientists. Interactions between utility and scientific partners were often carefully designed to occur early and often, and to include substantive and meaningful discussion of project progress toward identified goals. Most of these knowledge networks persist beyond the period reported in our paper and form the foundation for on-going work at each of the four utilities.

Our third finding identified a new factor in co-production, what we call an entrepreneurial approach to the research agenda. In our case studies we saw the utilities themselves drive methodological innovation in climate model downscaling and hydrologic modeling to resolve their particular problems and allow climate projections to be useful in their utility context. One utility developed a variation on the “delta method” downscaling methodology to better understand how extreme events might affect their water system. A second utility developed a new statistical downscaling technique which did a better job than off-the-shelf statistical downscaling tools of replicating the spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall for their region, the key driver of local water supply. Another utility worked with their science partners to bias-correct a widely accepted hydrologic dataset in order to better capture orographic effects important in its local watershed and to better reflect the instrumental record.

For readers who would like to learn more about this interesting project focused on an applied research agenda, we recommend reading our peer reviewed article in Climate Services (Vogel, et al. 2016) and the project final report (Vogel, et al. 2015).

Vogel, J., E. McNie, and D. Behar. 2016. Co-producing actionable science for water utilities. Climate Services. doi: 10.1016/j.cliser.2016.06.003.

Vogel, J.M., J.B. Smith, M. O’Grady, P. Fleming, K. Heyn, A. Adams, D. Pierson, K. Brooks, and D. Behar, 2015. Actionable science in practice: Co-producing climate change information for water utility vulnerability assessments. Prepared for the Water Utility Climate Alliance. May.

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AAAS CASE Workshop Competition Panel Discussion

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by Alison Gilchrist, CSTPR Writing Intern

On September 28th from noon-1:00 pm, the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR) will host a panel discussion about the “Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering” (CASE) workshop. Organized by The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and held in Washington, D.C., the 3-day CASE workshop is an exciting opportunity for students interested in science policy and communication.

CSTPR organizes a competition each winter to select two students from CU Boulder to attend the workshop, all expenses paid. The competition is open to both well-qualified graduating seniors and graduate students.  While the dates have not yet been set, it is anticipated that the competition will take place in late January/February 2017. Previous competition winners will serve on the Sept. 28 panel to discuss their experiences at the workshop and take questions from the audience. Students who are interested in attending this workshop can also come to learn more about the application process and the competition.

The CASE workshop was developed by a number of academic institutions, CU Boulder among them, to give young scientists a chance to experience research advocacy and policy design. Students in the workshop learn about important aspects of government such as the structure of Congress and how the federal budget and appropriations processes proceed. They also learn about communicating science and how to stay engaged in local and national politics.

Students attending the workshop will also get a chance to apply what they learn about influencing policy directly: on the last day of the workshop, they will form teams and speak with their elected Members of Congress and congressional staff members about a topic of their choice.

This unique opportunity was designed to empower young scientists and encourage science advocacy in an effective, meaningful way. Science communication, an integral component of influencing policy, is an especially important element of the CASE workshop.

For undergraduate and graduate students looking to learn more, the panel discussion about this workshop will host three past winners of this competition and be moderated by Abby Benson, one of the founders of the CASE workshop.

While Associate Vice President of Government Relations at CU, Benson advocated for increased support for policy education. About founding the workshop, Benson stressed the importance of appealing to young scientists:

“I was most excited about getting scientists and engineers interested in science policy early in their careers, so they could build a strong foundation to carry throughout their careers. I also think it is very useful to have younger advocates in Washington talking about how the decisions made by Congress and funding agencies impact their path.”

Sure enough, the CASE workshop has already had an impact on young scientists who won the competition at CU Boulder.

Sarah Joy Welsh-Huggins, a 2016 winner and Ph.D. candidate in the Civil Systems program within the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, says the workshop affirmed her career path decision. She had long been interested in science policy, and was thrilled by the chance to go to Washington, D.C. to experience policy making in action.

“Every workshop session, every guest speaker, and especially our interactions with our Colorado Congressmen and their staff demonstrated to me how valuable my technical background in civil engineering may be when advocating for policies that impact and are impacted by advances in specific areas of engineering research and practice.”

She described how rewarding it was to meet people who were equally interested in science communication and policy, while learning how Congress “really” works.

“It was so exciting to be in our nation’s capital this spring and imagine working there myself, striving to make my mark on the decision-making processes that shape and improve our society.”

Angela Boag, another 2016 winner and a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Studies, echoed Welsh-Huggins’ enthusiasm for meeting other students who were interested in policy issues.

“I found the best part of the workshop was meeting other like-minded Ph.D. students who want to do work at the science-policy interface. I am interested in pursuing applied research or “alternative academic” positions, and it was really encouraging meeting people with similar goals.”

She also described a new appreciation for the importance of being actively involved in policy decisions.

“Programs that fund certain types of research may be cut or boosted for a myriad of reasons often unrelated to the program itself, and therefore it’s critical for scientists to be their own advocates and frequently share the importance of their work with politicians and the public.”

Nick Valcourt, one of the 2015 winners with an MS in Civil Systems Engineering from CU, was particularly interested in the scientific communication component of the workshop. He remembers getting tips from Congressional staff:

“There were a number of presentations from current and former Legislative staffers who provided excellent insights about how their offices need to have science-based information packaged for them in order for it to be useful and actionable to Lawmakers.”

He also gained a greater understanding of how to influence science policy as an individual using the resources of a collective. As a member of the workshop, he was in a unique position to speak with legislators about research policy.

“Our Congressional Representatives are inundated with requests for meetings from special interest groups every day and as a member of the ‘special interest group’ of academic-based science and engineering research I found it to be a very powerful platform to communicate directly with those in Federal decision-making positions.”

The opportunity to attend the CASE workshop is both educational and inspiring, judging by student testimonials. To convince us further, Welsh-Huggins, Valcourt and Boag will all be on the CSTPR panel on September 28th.

For more information about the workshop and competition click here.

The panel discussion will take place at CSTPR, 1333 Grandview Ave. (one street north of University Ave). Map. The panel discussion will also be available via live webcast (login as  guest).

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Assessment of Cookstove Stacking in Northern Ghana Using Surveys and Stove Use Monitors

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by R. Piedrahita, K.L. Dickinson, E. Kanyomse, E. Coffey, R. Alirigia, Y. Hagar, I. Rivera, A. Oduro, V. Dukic, C. Wiedinmyer, and M. Hannigan

Energy for Sustainable Development
Volume 34, October 2016

Abstract: Biomass burning for home energy use is a major health and environmental concern. While transitioning to cleaner cooking technologies has the potential to generate significant health and environmental benefits, prior efforts to introduce improved cookstoves have encountered many hurdles. Here, we focus on the increased stove use hurdle; households tend to use improved stoves alongside their traditional stoves rather than replacing them entirely, a phenomenon called cookstove “stacking.” This work provides a systematic, multi-method assessment of households’ cooking behaviors and cookstove stacking in the context of a 200-home randomized cookstove intervention study in Northern Ghana. Two stoves were selected for the intervention, a locally made rocket stove (Gyapa) and the Philips HD4012 LS gasifier stove. There were four intervention groups: a control group, a group given two Gyapa stoves, a group given two Philips stoves, and a group given one of each. Two stoves were distributed to each home in an attempt to induce more substitution away from traditional stoves. Adoption and usage patterns were quantified using temperature loggers at a subset of homes, as well as quarterly surveying in all households. We find that using multiple stoves each day is common practice within each intervention group, and that the two groups given at least one Gyapa had the largest reductions in traditional stove use relative to the control group, though use of traditional stoves remained high in all groups. Read more …

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Justice and Democracy in Climate Change Governance

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by Steve Vanderheiden
Taiwan Human Rights Journal, 2016

Abstract: Among the challenges posed by human-caused climate change are issues of justice and democracy, in how the environmental problem is expected to affect human social and economic systems and in the response taken by states and the international community to mitigate the problem. While unmitigated climate change unjustly harms the most vulnerable and widens existing unjust inequalities, programs to mitigate climate change can also be just or unjust, and so must take pains to avoid the latter. Likewise with democracy, as the failure to adequately respond to climate change may intensify scarcity and in so doing undermine new or established democracies, and cooperative efforts to control climate change are likely to be more responsive to the interests of the many if they are informed by democratic ideals and principles. Both sets of issues can constructively be theorized in terms of human rights, which seek to guarantee human interests in a safe and sustainable environment as well as those to self-determination and popular participation in major decisions that shape social and economic life, and which help to link the demands of justice and democracy in common cause. Here, I shall examine several such issues of justice and democracy, in the contexts of both domestic and international climate change governance, grounding these imperatives where appropriate in a human rights framework. Read more …

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More Than Scientists Video: The World’s Best Dad by Waleed Abdalati

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The conversation about climate starts with “We all care about our kids. How do we ensure the best future?” To Waleed Abdalati, former NASA Chief Scientist and director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, it doesn’t start with what you should do. And his daughter assures us he’s the Best Dad Ever!  [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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Prometheus 2.0 & Our Common Future

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We here in the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR) recognize that we are in both urgent and opportune times. Science, technology, and policy issues are as pressing, dynamically changing and important as ever.

As evidence of this, last week former White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director and Science Advisor (1998-2001) Neal Lane issued a strong call to the next US President – be it Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson or Jill Stein – to place ‘laser focus’ on science and technology policy.

In making five clear recommendations for each the next US president and the next US president’s science advisor, Lane appealed to the successor to Obama. He said, “considering the many policy challenges that relate to science and technology and the accelerating pace of scientific discovery and technology innovation across the globe, it is critically important that the president move quickly to appoint the science adviser and organize a capable OSTP that can begin to engage the many executive departments and agencies that support R&D and rely on advances in science and technology to carry out their missions.”

This is a critical juncture in our history. More now than ever there is tremendous need for honest brokers like CSTPR at the University of Colorado-Boulder who can develop, maintain and continue active collaborations so that scientific work finds traction in political, cultural and social arenas.

While intertwined challenges proliferate, and we in CSTPR press ahead through our collective capacity to pursue research, teaching and service projects to confront the urgent needs 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.

Going forward, through this re-energized Prometheus blog (call it ‘Prometheus 2.0’ if you will), we will profile a number of these research endeavors, initiatives and commitments as we work to help a range of audiences, stakeholders and user groups make sense of the dimensions of science and technology policy that coarse through the veins of our shared social body.

CSTPR Core Faculty and Research Associates, along with Affiliates, Graduate and Undergraduate students, Postdoctoral researchers and Visitors will be contributing in this space with great energy, reflecting renewed ambition of the CSTPR community.

Contemporary demands are such that science-technology-policy research is vital to understanding and improving how scientific ways of knowing can be more readily ‘usable’ for wider communities of researchers, practitioners and everyday people. Watch this space.

Max Boykoff, CSTPR Director

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More Than Scientists Video: Through the Eyes of His Grandkids by Jim White

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With the wisdom of years, Jim White of INSTAAR and University of Colorado Boulder reflects on the world he’s leaving his kids and grandkids. If you want a moving reflection of someone who’s devoted his life to studying the climate and now sees it in terms of those we’re leaving it to, this is it.  [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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The Science Coalition Videos

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AAAS CASE Workshop 2016 Competition Winners Sarah Welsh-Huggins and Angela Boag, CU-Boulder, discuss why science should matter to the presidential candidates.Watch the videos:

Sarah Welsh-Huggins [0:27]
Angela Boag [0:22]

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Aerospace and Defense Industry Champion

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Augusto González has joined CSTPR through December 2016 while he is on an EU Fellowship from the European Commission in Brussels. Below is a portion of a blog post from Augusto’s Exploring Space Commercialisation in Colorado Blog.

On August 17th I met Major General (Ret.) Jay Lindell at the State of Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).

OEDIT’s mission is to promote Colorado industry domestically and internationally and promote Colorado as the right place for companies to set up their businesses.

Jay Lindell is Colorado’s Aerospace and Defence Industry Champion, a position created following the publication of the Brookings Institution report “Launch! Taking Colorado’s Space Economy to the Next Level”.

The report advised the state to “brand and relentlessly market Colorado’s space economy” suggesting that a dedicated “sector champion…can further these efforts while at the same time spearheading space cluster development and ensuring regular dialogue with stakeholders.”

I had a long and interesting conversation with Jay Lindell who has taken his role to heart. He emphasised that the key to Colorado’s success in attracting and keeping aerospace industry is the state’s very favourable business climate and its attractive natural environment. Read more …

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Revamping Prometheus

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by Abigail Ahlert, CSTPR Writing Intern

In 2004, blogging was in its infancy. According to Google Trends, online interest in blogs was at a mere 16% of its eventual peak in 2009. Social networks that help people share their blogs today were years away from popularity. It was at this time that Shep Ryen, a student at the University of Colorado’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR), created the blog “Prometheus”.

Ryen, who now holds a position at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the Natural Resources and Environment Team, started Prometheus as a term project for one of his graduate courses in science policy offered by CSTPR. Prometheus was—and is today—designed as an informal outlet for news, information, and opinion on science and technology policy. Inspired by this novel outlet for information, Roger Pielke Jr., then the director of CSTPR, took it upon himself to support Ryen’s project and provide material for the blog.

By 2006, Prometheus had garnered significant attention. It was featured in multiple articles praising the role of scientists in the “blogosphere”, including one in National Geographic News and another in Science Policy Forum. It was named as one of the 50 most popular science blogs in Nature News.

As blogging gained popularity and public interest in climate change grew, Prometheus readership expanded. In 2010 the CSTPR website was one of the most heavily trafficked websites on the CU-Boulder campus, in large part due to Prometheus. But when the blog required more upkeep than Pielke and CSTPR were able to provide, Pielke retired Prometheus and continued blogging on his personal site.

Prometheus lay dormant until 2013, when it was revived mostly as a source for CSTPR news. Today, there are big plans for its future. Prometheus 2.0 will soon be regularly featuring content from CSTPR core faculty, research associates, postdocs, visitors, students and affiliates to serve as a resource for science and technology decision makers. This new dynamism will reflect the new energies and pursuits taking place in and around the Center. The blog will now span a broader range of news, research updates and opinion writing. Prometheus is being revamped to improve how science and technology policies address societal needs, through research and education.

Stay tuned for the upgraded Prometheus, coming soon!

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Webcast Now Available for CSTPR Seminar on Transformative Learning Networks

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Insights From Four Case Studies of Networks

  • National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI)
  • 100 Resilient Cities (100RC)
  • Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (FACLNet)
  • Global Change SysTem for Analysis, Research and Training (START)

Watch the webcast

Bruce Evan Goldstein, University of Colorado Boulder
Claire S. Chase, University of Colorado Boulder
Lee Frankel-Goldwater, University of Colorado Boulder
Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey, University of Colorado Boulder
Julie Risien, Oregon State University
Sarah Schweizer, University of Colorado Denver

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More Than Scientists Video: My Little Icecap Is Almost Gone, It’s Dying!

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“We are destined for a warmer world. We are committed at this point.” An old hand studying climate, Mark Serreze at the National Snow and Ice Data Center reflects on the big changes he’s seen first-hand over the past 30 years and those we’ll all be facing.

[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 Welcomes Dr. Jessica Rich, CIRES Postdoctoral Fellow

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Jessica Rich, Ph.D., joins the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research as a CIRES Post-Doctoral Research Fellow through August 2018.

Jessica studies the relationships between labor and the natural environment in conflicts over oil and gas drilling in the United States.

The maintenance of labor-versus-environment discourses historically suppresses worker resistance and endangers ecological spaces. Jessica analyzes the implications of environmental conflict discourses for professional identities, how extraction workers negotiate meanings of nature, and how nature itself shapes human action. Along with her academic work, Jessica’s professional experience includes a decade of non-profit organizing in the areas of workforce development and community advocacy. Her publications can be found in Environmental Communication and Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization.

Jessica earned her doctorate in 2016 from the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

During her post-doctoral appointment with CSTPR, Jessica will continue her research as it relates to work and labor issues in unconventional drilling, with a particular focus on the industry’s effects in Colorado communities.

With the state’s history of oil and gas drilling and citizen activism, the region is a rich site for developing engaged research that examines the impact of extraction industries on local identities and community responses.

In addition, Jessica is interested in pursuing external funding to support projects that investigate how work and labor are evolving in light of global environmental change and organizations’ development of just transitions for workers in a green economy.

She is excited to collaborate with researchers across CU who are studying issues related to environmental justice, labor, and energy, as well as fostering connections with labor and environmental organizations in communities surrounding Boulder.

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Inside the Greenhouse Newsletter, Issue #5

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Issue 5 | September 2016
Subscribe to ITG Newsletters

The hot summer of 2016 has been productive for us Inside the Greenhouse. Highlights included the successful continuation of our summer internship programs, collaboration with ‘Lens on Climate Change’ and the posting and tagging (for database searching) of our Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 class compositions on the website. Thank you all for your ongoing support of our work. Stay tuned for much more to come in the Fall 2016 semester.

Up with hope,
Rebecca Safran, Beth Osnes and Max Boykoff
(Inside the Greenhouse co-directors)

Internship Spotlight

One of our summer 2016 Inside the Greenhouse interns, Sean Race, headed out to the deserts of California to study and document a project focused on how quail adapt to climate change. Sean was a student in the Film and Climate Change class during the Fall term in 2015. Check out his first of two films posted here. Stay tuned into our website for more. In the meantime, Sean describes his internship experience in this way: “My internship took place within the beautiful backdrop of the Santa Rosa-San Jacinto National Monument of Southern California. The thrust of the summer was dedicated to assisting David Zonana, a PhD candidate from University of Colorado Boulder, with his quail research in the field; time was also dedicated to filming, blogging, and hammering out concepts as the season progressed.” Read more …

Event Highlight

This summer, Inside the Greenhouse took part in the ‘Lens on Climate Change’ project at the University of Colorado and supported workshops Boulder and Trinidad, Colorado. This project is led by Anna Gold, Sarah Wise and Lesley Smith, and works with middle and high school students in Colorado in film creation and production. Dick Alweis (Filmmaker and Faculty Member at Colorado Film School) and David Oonk (CU Boulder PhD student) led students in work to develop story content about their roles and those of their communities in climate and environmental change. Read more …

Alum Spotlight

Rebecca True
“I’ve spent some time reflecting on how much I’ve changed since graduating last year and the career path I’m heading down”. These are the words of Inside the Greenhouse alum, Rebecca True, who is currently completing a service year with CivicSpark, a Governor’s Initiative AmeriCorps program dedicated to building capacity for local governments to address climate change and water management issues in California.

Annie Smith
Now working for the Colorado Ocean Coalition in Boulder, Colorado, Annie Smith had this to say upon reflection on her work in the two-course series of Inside the Greenhouse. “Looking back at how I spent my time in college, I can honestly say that the experiences I gained through the Inside the Greenhouse classes inspired me to pursue a creative job in the environmental sciences. I graduated with an open mind about science, communications, and the environment around me. Today, I work as the Operations Manager for the local non-profit, Colorado Ocean Coalition, a project of the Ocean Foundation. In the organization, I do a little bit of everything: volunteer coordination, event planning, website design, grant writing, marketing, program development, board participation, fundraising, creek-clean ups and presentations.”

Announcements

Shine shines
The year-long Tour of Participatory Climate Musical Comes to a Close. The Inside the Greenhouse mini-musical named Shine – created by co-Director Beth Osnes – has toured to cities across the world to engage youth voices in city planning for climate, energy and resilience issues. Most recently, Beth and Inside the Greenhouse collaborators coordinated with youth in New Orleans, Connecticut, and Limpopo, the northernmost province in South Africa. Earlier in the year this show was performed by youth in Boulder, New York City, and London. At each location young people brought the performance to life to dramatize 300 million years of geological time to tell the story of humanity’s relationship with energy and how that has impacted our climate.

Read entire issue …

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More Than Scientists Video: What Do Aerial Dancing and Climate Science Have in Common?

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What do aerial dancing and climate science have in common? For Valerie Morris @INSTAAR, a lot. And in this quick video with both, she describes a critical consequence of greenhouse gases – warming continues to intensify well after they’re emitted! So even if we stopped today adding any more CO2 into the atmosphere, temperatures would continue to go up from here.

[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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Ogmius, Newsletter of CSTPR, Issue 44 is Now Out

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Ogmius
Issue #44, Summer 2016

Ogmius Exchange
“Social-Impact Network” For Wildfire Adaptation
by Daniel W. Zietlow, Ph.D., CSTPR Writing Intern

The following article — A “Social-Impact Network for Wildfire Adaptation” — describes the research of one of our new core faculty members, Bruce Goldstein. Bruce is an Associate Professor in the Program in Environmental Design and the Program in Environmental Studies. His work focuses on how planners, activists, public agency managers and other stakeholders collaborate to address daunting social-ecological challenges, such as restoring fire regimes in a densely populated wildlands-urban interface, harmonizing common-property resource management with international efforts to protect biodiversity, and of course climate change. Bruce is particularly interested in how learning networks can catalyze change in stable and durable institutions that are approaching dramatic social and ecological thresholds.

In the face of natural hazards, resource scarcity, climate change, and other social-ecological challenges, how does a community adapt, and how can communities combine forces to contribute to transformational change? Dr. Bruce Goldstein, an associate professor in Environmental Design and Environmental Studies and core faculty at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR) at the University of Colorado Boulder takes on this pressing question.

At first glance, the root cause of environmental crises is too daunting for communities to tackle; however, Goldstein sees communities as the engine for institutional transformation. By organizing themselves into “learning networks,” communities can apply local knowledge to address issues that are very specific to their place and time, and team together to transform unstable practices into sustainable ones. Learning networks enable people to create new ideas by serving as a laboratory for best practices, and a forum for addressing basic questions like, “What is the system in which I live and how do I want to change it?”

Let’s take a look at wildfires, a pressing issue here in the western United States and one that Goldstein actively tackles. According to the Forest Service, an average of more than 73,000 wildfires burn about 7.3 million acres (over 2.9 million hectares) of land annually. Locally, Colorado experienced 6 major wildfires since 2012 that burned over 240,000 acres (over 97,000 hectares) of land, with many smaller fires occurring during this time. Typically, wildfire impacted regions rely on a fire agency to protect them and mitigate the wildfire once it has started. Because of this, around 70% of the Forest Service budget goes towards fire suppression. Yet wildfires are a natural and necessary ecological process. Efforts to suppress them only make wildfires more likely as fuels accumulate in even-aged stands, producing increasingly intense fires that are both more deadly and ecologically destructive. We therefore need to rethink how we approach wildfires and change our mindset from “suppression” to “adaptation and ecological restoration.” Read more …

Ogmius Exchange
Environmental Rights and Adaption to Climate Change
by Daniel W. Zietlow, Ph.D., CSTPR Writing Intern

We also highlight the research of Steve Vanderheiden, who joined CSTPR as a core faculty member in 2015. Steve is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, as well as Professorial Fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) in Australia. He joined the CU Boulder faculty in 2007, and specializes in normative political theory and environmental politics, with a particular focus on global governance and climate change. In addition to numerous published articles and book chapters on topics ranging from Rousseau’s environmental thought to the politics of SUVs, and edited books on political theory approaches to climate change, energy politics, and environmental rights, his Atmospheric Justice: A Political Theory of Climate Change (Oxford, 2008) won the 2009 Harold and Margaret Sprout award from the International Studies Association for the best book on international environmental politics. Steve received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

When you think of climate change, you typically think of the physical changes occurring on Earth: the increased average temperatures, changes in rain patterns leading to drought conditions, the melting of sea ice, rising sea levels. You might also think of the ways we’re trying to combat it: becoming more energy efficient and pushing for renewable power, buying locally grown food, carbon dioxide emission limits, efforts to decrease water usage. What you may not necessarily think of, though, are the issues surrounding the global governance of climate change. Enter Steve Vanderheiden, an associate professor at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado.

Vanderheiden specializes in normative political theory and environmental politics, with a particular interest in equity issues, democratic issues, and environmental issues as they pertain to climate change. In a society that is actively trying to adapt to a changing climate, an interesting question becomes what environmental rights should now look like, particularly territorial and water rights.

Let’s take a look at questions about carbon accounting, where countries, companies, or individuals measure greenhouse gas emissions as a metric for their “carbon footprint.” There is a debate between those who think we should calculate carbon footprint based on production of carbon dioxide versus those who think it should be based on consumption. Currently, private firms can get carbon offsets by claiming to make carbon sinks where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. Vanderheiden ponders how natural carbon sinks, such as forests or oceans, should be accounted. A forest in Canada is presumably owned by Canada, but should the carbon dioxide consumed by this forest count as a credit towards Canada’s carbon footprint? And what happens to this credit if the forest burns or is cut down for logging operations? Territorial rights, Vanderheiden argues, are thus incomplete because most have been developed for resources in and not above ground. Read more …

View full issue

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CSTPR Welcomes Professor Justin Farrell as a Visiting Sabbatical Fellow

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Professor Justin Farrell has joined CSTPR until August 2017, while he is on sabbatical from Yale University.

Justin Farrell will be at CSTPR for the year working to expand his computational social science approach for understanding how climate change has become such a polarized issue in the United States.

Continuing to blend network science with large-scale machine learning text analysis, Justin will focus on expanding his methodological framework for improving our understanding about how the communication of science is produced and disseminated within connected networks and subnetworks of organizations.

Justin finds CIRES to be an ideal institutional home for this sort of interdisciplinary and collaborative research program on cultural and political conflict over climate change.

As a native of Cheyenne, Wyoming, he is excited about returning to the region, but is especially excited about the opportunities for exchanging ideas with affiliates who may not work in quantitative social science, but bring a different and unique perspective that will be mutually beneficial.

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Augusto González: Newcomer in Boulder

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Augusto González has joined CSTPR through December 2016 while he is on an EU Fellowship from the European Commission in Brussels.

This is my first post on my EU Fellowship at University of Colorado, Boulder. Like all EU fellows, I have a subject of special study during my fellowship: space commercialisation and privatisation.

My intention is to use this blog to give personal impressions on my stay in Boulder and report briefly but regularly on activities linked to my fellowship, focusing on the subject of my study.

I think the right way to start is to thank the European Commission and the University of Colorado, particularly Dr. Max Boykoff and all the staff at the Centre for Science and Technology Policy Research, and Dr. Joseph Jupille.

I arrived in Boulder on August 8th, a week in advance of the formal start of the fellowship. Settling in presented no problem; all the University staff I have been in contact with are very friendly and efficient.

On Augusto 10th, I had my first meeting related to the subject I am here to explore. I visited Dr. Michael K. Simpson, Executive Director of Secure World Foundation. Dr Simpson shared with me some interesting views on space commerce. He pointed out that the issue of space commerce is a hot topic and SWF is involved in several international fora dealing with it. We covered a wide range of issues. I noted in particular his comment on the influence of State politics in the development of space activities, both public and private alike, and on the fact that, because of that influence, space in the US is rather “decentralised”, much in the same way that space is “decentralised” in the EU (where space remains largely a matter of national competence). Decentralisation, he pointed out, isn’t necessarily a disadvantage as it often induces new approaches and original ideas. Finding the right niche is often the key to success in commercial space. Read more …

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Notes from the Field: Moving Forward Together – A Presentation of Findings to the Zambia Red Cross Society

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Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre Internship Program
by Sierra Gladfelter
Zambia, August 2016

In Zambia, Sierra is supporting the monitoring and evaluation component of the ‘City Learning Lab processes’ Zambia Red Cross Society program. This includes supporting the facilitation and documentation of the First Lusaka Learning Lab for the Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands (FRACTAL) project, including contribution to the development of a learning framework and establishing a learning baseline, researching background materials and preparing reading materials in collaboration with the FRACTAL team and documenting learning during the Learning Lab interactions and compiling a learning report.

On Tuesday, August 16, 20016 I had the opportunity to present the findings of my fieldwork in rural communities located in Kazungula District of Zambia’s Southern Province to the Zambia Red Cross Society (ZRCS) in order to obtain feedback and engage in a critical discussion. The specific goals of this study, implemented over the course of two weeks as part of my internship with the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, were to detail current barriers that communities face both in coping with and adapting to climate-induced disasters. An additional objective was to identify potential culturally-appropriate and feasible strategies for enhancing early warning systems (EWSs) and supporting disaster preparedness at the community level. My hope was that the information I gathered would assist the ZRCS in their ongoing preparedness activities in these communities and in developing new proposals that more explicitly consider opportunities for building local climate resilience.

In my presentation, I provided an overview of the primary disasters that residents face as well as a rich description of local strategies for coping with floods and droughts. This was followed by detailed information on both local access to formal weather and climate information and traditional mechanisms for predicting disasters in the absence of these formal sources. More details on these topics are provided in my previous blog, “Anticipating Disaster: Formal Climate Information vs. Traditional Ways of Knowing Floods and Droughts”. I then moved into a discussion of existing interventions that attempt to institute formal early warning systems in the region, analyzed each of their strengths and limitations, and then described community-initiated EWSs that already function on the ground using observations made in upstream communities. These formal and informal EWSs are described at length in my blog, “Early Warnings for Floods: Formal Interventions vs. Traditional Forms of Relaying Critical Information”. The most important part of my presentation, however, revolved around my ‘Recommendations’ section and the lively discussion it inspired among ZRCS staff in considering ways to integrate my research in their own work moving forward.

My recommendations focused primarily on two areas: 1) identifying opportunities for enhancing community-based EWSs already functioning in the region and 2) making suggestions for low-tech climate adaptive strategies proposed by residents that would only be feasible with either technical or financial assistance from an institution like the ZRCS. Specifically, on the topic of EWSs, I recommended leveraging the river gauges that already exist on tributaries to the Zambezi River by linking their trained gauge readers to downstream communities. Furthermore, by installing additional basic river gauges in the upstream, more residents can be integrated into a localized EWS based on providing lead times by simply linking upstream communities with access to live river level data with at-risk downstream villages. Such systems could leverage both the informal communication structures already present on the ground and the ZRCS’s Satellite Disaster Management Committees (SDMCs) to formalize a more effective means for dissemination.

In addition to these detailed recommendations on ways to enhance community-based EWSs, I also presented several potential climate adaptive strategies for mitigating local loss to floods and droughts that were generated by my informants during interviews and focus groups. These including the deepening of natural reservoirs in order to maintain a water supply for drinking and irrigation into the dry season, identifying appropriate places to sink boreholes using certain tree species as environmental indicators of non-salty water, and establishing seed banks to preserve indigenous drought-resistant crop varieties. Supporting community-initiated adaptive strategies such as these could work to address the dual climate-induced challenges of floods and droughts experienced in Kazungula communities.

After my presentation, ZRCS Disaster Management Coordinator Wisford Mudenda, Disaster Management Officer Samuel Mutambo, and I had a discussion about the ZRCS’s existing programs to build climate resilience in Kazungula communities and their plans for future information. Mr. Mudenda stressed, that having worked in these villages over the years, he has observed that one of the major failures of interventions has been the fact that there is rarely adequate attention paid to people’s livelihoods and the economic constraints many households face in adapting to climate change. For example, he described that the intervention, which the ZRCS was also involved in, to relocate Kasaya households out of the floodplain and resettle them in Namapande after the devastating 2006 and 2008 floods was limited in that it failed to recognize the reality of local needs and livelihoods. The resettled households, Mr. Mudenda explained, were not given adequate support in transitioning from a livelihood based on fishing to one dependent upon rain fed agriculture. Because farming did not resonate with people’s experience and skill set, many people sold the land they had been given and moved to town or back to the river. Those who stayed, as I also observed in my interviews, were forced to resort to destructive occupations like charcoal production in order to earn enough to meet their most basic needs.  Read more …

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Dr. Suzanne Tegen Joins CSTPR as a Visiting Scholar

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Dr. Suzanne Tegen has been a part of the CU Boulder, CSTPR and ENVS communities for a long time, as she earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies (Energy Policy) from the University of Colorado at Boulder a number of years ago and she has been helping advise ENVS graduate students over the past years. She is also co-teaching ENST 5000 – Energy Science and Technology this Fall semester.

Suzanne Tegen manages the Wind and Water Deployment section at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory where she has been for 12 years. A policy analyst by training, her current research interests include:

  • The interaction between wind energy and radar, wildlife, and local communities
  • Economic impacts (including jobs) from renewable energy using NREL’s Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (JEDI) models
  • Community, economic and other effects from fixed bottom and floating offshore wind plants
  • Renewable energy education and workforce development
  • Assessing and expanding diversity in the energy workforce
  • Potential energy production areas of co-existing and conflicting uses in domestic offshore areas

She has authored technical reports on economic impacts from distributed wind, utility-scale wind, offshore wind, community wind, and water power projects. She also studies the domestic wind and water power workforces including which types of jobs are needed in the long term.

Of particular note, Suzanne was awarded the Clean Energy, Education & Empowerment’s Government Award in 2016, and she serves on the non-profit board for Women of Wind Energy

Suzanne spent one year as an NREL liaison to the Department of Energy’s Wind Program in Washington, D.C. She has provided invited testimony for the state of Colorado and Colorado Energy Office, has participated in National Academy of Sciences research, and was a reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Along with her ENVS Ph.D. from CU Boulder, she has earned an M.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Bachelor of the Arts in German Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Her interests include local, domestic and global energy and environmental policy, climate change, environmental justice, and wind and water power systems.

Prior to NREL, Suzanne worked for the Center for Resource Solutions and the U.S. Antarctic Program at South Pole and McMurdo Stations.

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More Than Scientists Video: Are We Willing To Allow That? by Bill Bowman

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From the very personal to the global – his sons and their generation to poor people around the world – Bill Bowman, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at CU Boulder – sees the challenges climate change is bringing. And he asks, are we willing to allow that? Do we love our kids and grandkids enough to prevent the worst from coming to pass?

[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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Notes from the Field in Zambia: Early Warnings for Floods

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Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre Internship Program
by Sierra Gladfelter
Zambia, August 2016

In Zambia, Sierra is supporting the monitoring and evaluation component of the ‘City Learning Lab processes’ Zambia Red Cross Society program. This includes supporting the facilitation and documentation of the First Lusaka Learning Lab for the Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands (FRACTAL) project, including contribution to the development of a learning framework and establishing a learning baseline, researching background materials and preparing reading materials in collaboration with the FRACTAL team and documenting learning during the Learning Lab interactions and compiling a learning report.

Across Zambia, the vast majority of rural residents receive little to no warning in advance of severe inundation.

“Seasonal forecasts provided by the Zambia Meteorological Department (ZMD) are the only form of formal climate and weather information that actually makes it to most rural farmers.”

This fact is particularly tragic considering that in Southern Province alone, the ZMD has eight automatic weather stations collecting live data daily. Furthermore, while I was told that the ZMD’s national headquarters has the technical capacity to prepare flood forecasts and issue advisories based on precipitation and live river level data collected upstream, its current system of relaying information electronically prevents meaningful lead times from reaching the most at-risk people on the ground who often lack electricity and cellular networks, not to mention working internet connections.

While the agriculture extension officers bear the burden of dissemination and of translating forecasts into local actions, upon receiving flood advisories via ZMD’s listserv, they face their own set of limitations. Besides having rare access to email which is linked to the intermittent cellular network, rapid dissemination is also compromised by the fact that many agriculture extension officers are stationed in rural communities with no other means of transportation than a bicycle. While the ZMD notifies radio stations and news outlets through its formal email list, only a few of these media partners include these forecasts in their broadcasts. Moreover, even these few broadcasts rarely reach the southern bush, where people along the Zambezi River are more likely to pick up air waves from nearby Namibia’s radio stations.

As a result, not one of the residents who I interviewed in communities throughout Kazungula had ever received a formal warning from the ZMD in advance of a major precipitation event. For this reason, my interlocutors informed me, all actions taken in the days and hours leading up to a major flood, such as securing personal property, reinforcing structures, and evacuating to higher land, are guided strictly be early warnings observed in the environment and informal ways of exchanging information between upstream and downstream communities.

“Local communication chains provide an implicit structure for conveying critical information that although imperfect, continues to function as the only early warning system people rely on.”

Since villages are generally situated linearly along tributaries that run into the Zambezi River, those located on the floodplain usually have other villages upstream that they depend on for informal information on upstream precipitation and water levels.

When interviewing stakeholders in Sikaunzwe, Kawewa, Kasaya and Simalaha, I found that all communities were linked through informal communication systems to people upstream who often warned them of impending floods. Depending on the location and reliability of the local cell phone network, some people described receiving this information by cell phone or text. However, more common were warnings provided by people traveling downstream on their way to the main road for trade or travel. As they pass through villages on the way to their destination, such individuals share information about conditions upstream, including when water has reached a certain level. This information is then distributed locally by the village headman and his personal messengers, sometimes with the help of the ZRCS’s Satellite Disaster Management Committees at whatever village meetings, church congregations, or community events are taking place. These venues enable rapid and wide dissemination in places with limited communication infrastructure. In urgent situations, people sometimes use bicycles to go house-to-house, though this form of transportation is difficult in the rainy season when roads and paths are deeply rutted. Depending on the type of precipitation event upstream, these methods of dissemination can be effective. However, in flash flood events they fail to provide adequate lead time. Read more …

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The EU Discussion Series at CSTPR

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The EU Discussion Series at CSTPR
University of Colorado Boulder
Wednesdays 12-1:00 PM

Augusto González, Adviser at the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, will deliver a series of 8 seminars on EU, ranging from fundamental institutional aspects to current EU priorities

***Free and Open to the Public***
More Information

Fall 2016 Course Sessions

  • Session 1: September 14, THE EU TREATIES
  • Session 2: September 21, THE EU: WHO DOES WHAT
  • Session 3: October 5,  THE EU ORDINARY LEGISLATIVE PROCEDURE
  • Session 4: November 2, THE EU TOP TEN PRIORITIES
  • Session 5: November 9, THE EU STRATEGY FOR GROWTH
  • Session 6: November 16, THE SINGLE MARKET STRATEGY
  • Session 7: November 23, CIRCULAR ECONOMY PACKAGE
  • Session 8: December 7, EU RESEARCH & INNOVATION: THE HORIZON 2020 PROGRAMME

Lecturer: Augusto González – European Commission
This course will be held in the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research conference room at 1333 Grandview Avenue, Boulder

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More Than Scientists Video: Let’s Not Treat This as a Big Fight by Lisa Dilling

mts_dilling

Will our kids get to see the beauty of our planet? As someone who’s always loved the amazing beauty she sees around her, especially within the oceans, Prof. Lisa Dilling has dedicated herself to caring for it. And she asks, let’s not treat climate change as a big fight. Let’s look for opportunities to speak across world views and look for common ground.

[video]

In this 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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Notes From the Field: Anticipating Disaster – Formal Climate Information vs. Traditional Ways of Knowing Floods and Droughts

rccc2016_blog4

Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre Internship Program
by Sierra Gladfelter
Zambia, August 2016

In Zambia, Sierra is supporting the monitoring and evaluation component of the ‘City Learning Lab processes’ Zambia Red Cross Society program. This includes supporting the facilitation and documentation of the First Lusaka Learning Lab for the Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands (FRACTAL) project, including contribution to the development of a learning framework and establishing a learning baseline, researching background materials and preparing reading materials in collaboration with the FRACTAL team and documenting learning during the Learning Lab interactions and compiling a learning report.

Rural Zambian communities living on the floodplains of the Zambezi River are increasingly suffering from climate-induced disasters, with both floods and droughts alternatively striking and eroding their security. In Kazungula, an underdeveloped district located in the Southern Province upstream from Victoria Falls where the Zambia Red Cross Society (ZRCS) is currently supporting interventions, residents receive limited support in anticipating such disasters. While the Zambia Meteorological Department (ZMD) prepares and disseminates forecasts as part of its mandate to provide advisory services, the kind of data it is able to provide in terms of resolution and time scale is limited. Currently the ZMD distributes three types of forecasts including six-month seasonal forecasts with detailed information on how weather and climatic patterns like El Niño and La Niña will influence rainfall over the region, as well as 10-day and daily forecasts. This information, formulated at the national level and downscaled for each province, is disseminated by email to key stakeholders such as ZRCS Disaster management staff, agriculture extension officers, local government officials and individuals who formally request to be added to the department’s list. This is the same mechanism through which people would be warned in the event of an impending disaster.

In a country where much of the rural population lives isolated even from radio and cell phone service, however, the impact of electronically distributed forecasts and advisories provided by the ZMD is constrained. The data that makes it to the ground is primarily limited to seasonal forecasts which are printed on pamphlets and distributed annually by ZMD. On a short term basis, however, the burden of dissemination to local communities falls onto the shoulders of the nation’s agriculture extension officers employed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in each district. These individuals serve as the primary intermediaries between the ZMD and rural farmers in both providing and translating weather and climate information for local decision-making. While communities are primarily able to access this information at frequent village meetings, agriculture extension officers also have their own constraints and are often forced to provide services without reliable communication or transportation. For example, one agriculture extension officer whom I interviewed in Kazungula had not had a functional motorbike in a year and was only able to access the more remote communities by coordinating transport with other NGOs working in the area. These communication and logistical challenges mean that although ZMD regularly produces useful information to disseminate, even 10-day forecasts rarely reach rural Zambians while their content is still timely. Thus, the ZMD’s seasonal forecasts are currently the closest thing to a formal ‘early warning’ provided to communities in advance to floods and droughts.

“Knowing in advance that floods and droughts are predicted certainly does enable rural Zambians to take some precautionary measures. Most residents that I interviewed whose livelihoods depend on rain fed agriculture, described the utility of the ZMD’s seasonal forecasts for determining crop types and adjusting the timing of their planting. For example, if a drought is predicted farmers will plant drought-resistant varieties or traditional crops like sorghum that can handle a limited amount of water. In the case of flooding or excessive precipitation, people choose late maturing crop varieties. However, at the broad timescale of a seasonal forecast, the kind of actions that people can take without any actual lead time prior to a disaster, are severely limited.”

For this reason, Zambians living in communities in Kazungula depend equally, if not more, on traditional mechanisms for predicting floods and droughts.

In interviews and focus groups with rural farmers living in the communities of Sikaunzwe, Kawewa, and Kasaya, community members described the most common indicators embedded in the landscape that they have historically relied on and continue to rely on to anticipate floods and droughts. By far the most common response I was given from nearly everyone I interviewed, was the significance of cobwebs suspended in the atmosphere as a portent for impending floods. Although the precise details of how these cobwebs emerge and the timing until a flood occurs remains unclear, informants consistently cited the presence of these nets of whitish silk that hover in the atmosphere as one of the surest signs of inundation. Similar phenomena of spiders escaping floodwaters on winds have been documented in places as diverse as Australia and Pakistan. Here in Zambia, when the webs are transported on northwest winds coming from upstream and settle onto trees in the bush, people can reliably expect floods in a short time. In fact, several people were so confident that every time they see these webs they will get flooded, that this sign alone is cause for relocation to the uplands. One informant who had lost his home and 39 animals in the devastating 2006 flood, said that he had seen the cobwebs prior to that event and so when he saw them again in 2008 took early action to prevent more loss. Sure enough, by February another devastating flood had struck the region. Read more …

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AI for President

istvan

IEEE Spectrum
August 10, 2016

Zoltan Istvan, who represents the Transhumanist Party and bills himself as “the science candidate” in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has garnered more media coverage than many third party candidates, with recent mentions in Vocativ, The Verge, USA Today, and Pacific Standard. He also writes regularly for Motherboard and The Huffington Post.

Istvan’s popularity is likely due to a combination of his quirky campaign style (he drives around in a bus painted to resemble a coffin with “Science vs. The Coffin” written above the bumper) and an unconventional platform that pushes for gene editing, human life extension, and morphological freedom (the right to do anything to your body so long as it doesn’t harm others). As a broader movement, transhumanism focuses on leveraging science and technology toward the ultimate goal of overcoming death, largely through as-yet-unproven methods such as mind uploading, in which a person’s entire consciousness would be transferred to a digital system or machine.

Istvan’s main goal in the election, he has told IEEE Spectrum, is not to win but to use the candidacy to popularize science and push for increased funding for scientific and technological research. While on the campaign trail, Istvan also advocates for a Universal Basic Income to prepare for the coming age of robotic workers, which he estimates could arrive within 30 years, and a “partial direct digital democracy” through which citizens could approve or reject specific policies with a virtual vote. He also supports providing free public education, expanding the U.S. space program, and spreading a “pro-science” culture.

Cast your votes

One of Istvan’s core platforms is creating a digital mechanism for citizens to vote directly on federal policies and spending proposals instead of relying only on elected officials to speak for them. In response to a viewer question, Istvan said he believes this approach will help to more equitably distribute power within government and lead to better decisions.

But Steve Vanderheiden, a political scientist specializing in environmental studies with the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado-Boulder, has concerns about that proposal. In an email, Vanderheiden called it both “intriguing and worrying.” He said though it potentially offers citizens an opportunity to be more involved in the decision-making process, there is still a digital divide in the U.S. that could limit the participation of certain types of people.

He also pointed out that Istvan’s proposal subtly shifts the weight of a democracy from a “trustee model” in which leaders are elected and afforded a certain degree of autonomy from the constant swirl of public opinion, to a “delegate model” in which they are continuously beholden to all forms of public opinion. He cautioned a digital democracy could therefore evolve to include, “the kind of knee jerk and anonymous reaction that makes other forms of digital communication uncivil and polarized.” Read more …

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CSTPR Welcomes Augusto Gonzalez, CSTPR visitor & European Union Fellow

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Augusto González holds the degree of Licenciado in Geography and History from Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain) as well as a Master’s degree in International Studies from University of Salford (United Kingdom).

He joined the European Commission in 1989 and has worked in several policy areas including education and vocational training, space and research. His experience encompasses EU policy and law-making, international relations as well as human resources, financial and programme management.

He held management positions for over 11 years and is currently Adviser to the Director for EU Satellite Navigation Programmes in the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Augusto González is married and has two children. He lives in Brussels but maintains very close ties with his home town in Spain, where he holds elected public office (municipal counsellor).

He will deliver a series of seminars on EU topics and will conduct a study on current space commercialization and privatization trends.

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When Does Truth Trump Bias?

trump

JSTOR Daily
August 2, 2016

The Washington Post editorial board recently released a scathing op-ed calling Republican nominee Donald J. Trump a national problem. Citing his Republican National Convention speech and messaging, the board notes that despite the board’s desire to remain neutral in its coverage of both candidates and conventions (AKA journalistic integrity), it cannot condone Trump’s lack of qualifications, hateful campaigning, misdiagnosis of American politics, politics of division, and contempt for “constitutional norms.” The board makes its case clearly and concisely, making clear it belief that Trump is dangerous to American democracy.

Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton has also come under attack for issues of ethics and integrity, with the ongoing debates surrounding “her handling of classified information on a private email domain as secretary of state” and the recent Democratic National Committee email WikiLeaks.

So how does one report the news in a fair and unbiased format when there might be moral issues standing in the way?

In 2011, Trevor Jackson asked just this, although in reference to something much more scientifically rather than politically-oriented. Jackson’s article “When Balance is Bias: Sometimes the science is strong enough for the media to come down on one side of a debate,” can also apply to how, when, and under what circumstances journalists should weigh in and pick sides.

Jackson begins by telling the tale of Emeritus Professor Steve Jones who was hired to examine the “impartiality and accuracy of BBC’s coverage of science.” In his findings, Jones reported concern about the BBC’s “due impartiality” guidelines and the effect they might be having on readers. He found that “in their quest for objectivity and impartiality—entirely understandable aims in coverage of politics and arts—[the BBC] risked giving the impression in their science reporting that there were two equal sides to a story when clearly there were not.”

In his own words, Jones noted, “[t]here is widespread concern that [the BBC’s] reporting of science sometimes gives an unbalanced view of particular issues because of its insistence on bringing in dissident voices into what are in effect settled debates.” He cites multiple examples such as media coverage of the MMR vaccine and climate change, both cases where Jackson notes that journalists “made people think that scientists themselves were divided…when they were not,” thus creating a “false balance.”

It is precisely this “false balance” and resulting forced neutrality that Jackson continues to explore in his case studies. He cites investigative journalist Nick Davies who “says that the insistence on balance is one of the factors that stops journalists getting at the truth.” He also cites Maxwell Boykoff whose book Who Speaks for the Climate? suggests that “the journalistic norm of balance in news reporting” has in turn impacted both climate policy and related decisions by “amplify[ing] outlier views.” Read more …

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Bruce Goldstein Lab Group Presenting at the ISSS2016 Conference on Systems Sciences

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International Society for the System Sciences Conference
Organisational Transformation and Social Change (Chair, Louis Klein)

“Transformative Learning Networks”
by Bruce Goldstein, Julie Risien, Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey, Lee Frankel-Goldwater, Sarah Chase, and Claire Schweizer

4:00 PM, Engineering Room ECCR200 | Conference website

If you cannot make the conference in person, you can follow along with the action from afar via the conference hashtag #ISSS2016.

2781 Learning networks combine multistakeholder collaboration with community-spanning interaction and exchange across sites and scales. They are inter-organizational voluntary collaboratives that support innovation and social learning to promote systemic change. Learning networks are often attempted in situations where existing institutional arrangements cannot address looming challenges, and change is thwarted by a combination of lack of capacity and a powerful status quo. The four learning networks we are examining address the challenges of ecological fire restoration, urban resilience, fostering adaptive capacity to climate change and other unprecedented challenges in developing countries, and the deep cultural divide between the academy and the public (also see our team website). We will consider how these LNs increase capacity to transform complex adaptive systems in which they are embedded. Our definition of resilience is grounded in how collective action can purposefully reconfigure systemic relationships to promote a new and desired state. We will explore how learning networks can balance the autonomy that individual organizations and communities require with the cohesion required to catalyze transformative change in policy and institutions operating at higher spatial/temporal/organizational scales. Different kinds of learning take place at each of different network levels – it is the effective interweaving of these heterogeneous interactions that fosters transformative capacity. Learning networks are bridging organizations: they form a bridge between different ways of knowing in communities and organizations, and they bridge to alternative futures by fostering innovation. Learning networks disrupt old habits and foster new collaborative relationships, reinforcing participants’ shared ties and purpose while providing freedom to experiment with innovative approaches. Learning networks rely on effective design and ongoing facilitation to function effectively. Network facilitators or “netweavers” may be formally identified or may emerge from among network participants. These netweavers collaborate with participants in identifying goals and an effective network topology and infrastructure. Netweavers initiate activities that build community and promote a shared identity that provides the foundation for common practice and purpose. Ties within the network deepen over time as participants identify collaborative solutions. We will explore these features by drawing insights from the origin, design and netweaving of our four learning networks. We will show how effective learning networks possess a loose, light structure that allows them to learn and adapt as their membership becomes more confident and experienced, as new needs and opportunities are recognized, and as resources and institutional support require. We will also consider how network design is cross-scalar, combining interpersonal and group collaboration with network-spanning interaction and exchange. Finally, we will reflect on how networks foster transformative capacity, an idea that is both conceptually subtle and difficult to detect over the short timescale of our fieldwork. To the extent possible, our work is conducted by our being embedded in network leadership teams and actively participating in ongoing discussion about the network design and facilitation. We will also discuss how participatory action research and developmental evaluation frameworks enable this balance between participation and analytical engagement.

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More Than Scientists Video: Challenges, Safety Nets, Energy and Ingenuity by Paty Romero Lankao

lankao

Challenges, Safety Nets, Energy and Ingenuity
Paty Romero Lankao
Research Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research
[video]

In this 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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Notes from the Field: Zambia Humanitarian Actors Platform – Establishing a Space for Sharing Best Practices and Influencing National Policy

rccc2016_blog3

Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre Internship Program
by Sierra Gladfelter
Zambia, July 2016

In Zambia, Sierra is supporting the monitoring and evaluation component of the ‘City Learning Lab processes’ Zambia Red Cross Society program. This includes supporting the facilitation and documentation of the First Lusaka Learning Lab for the Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands (FRACTAL) project, including contribution to the development of a learning framework and establishing a learning baseline, researching background materials and preparing reading materials in collaboration with the FRACTAL team and documenting learning during the Learning Lab interactions and compiling a learning report.

From June 30th to July 1st, 2016, I had the honor of participating in a two-day meeting hosted by the Zambia Relief and Development Foundation to share the findings from a study to assess the feasibility establishing a non-state actor’s humanitarian platform in Zambia. Such a network would allow for the activities of humanitarian actors to be more strategically coordinated while also providing a space for exchanging best practices. In addition to consultants from the University of Zambia responsible for conducting the study, representatives from more than a dozen organizations and local institutions working in the humanitarian sector across Zambia were invited to play a key role in defining the next steps forward in establishing a platform for coordinating relief activities and leveraging the organizations’ collective expertise to influence policy. The goal by the end of the two-day meeting was to collectively develop a vision, mission, objectives, governance structure and work plan for formally establishing the Zambia Humanitarian Actors Platform (ZHAP). The shared learning generated through this meeting was hoped to serve as a model to facilitate similar processes in the creation of national platforms for humanitarian actors in other parts of Africa.

The formal establishment of the ZHAP was inspired by remarks made by non-state humanitarian organizations interviewed during the initial feasibility study. Many institutions with rich histories of working in communities on the ground across Zambia lamented how most organizations within the humanitarian sector tend to work “as islands,” with individual voices too weak to be recognized by national policy makers. Instead, humanitarian organizations usually find themselves called upon by the government only in the wake of a disaster, but in a way that is explicitly prescriptive. In other words, many humanitarian actors seem to feel that while asked to assist in cleaning up after natural and human disasters, they have little support in preventative projects or ongoing work to build resilience in communities. Frustrated with feeling as if their recommendations are disregarded and not taken seriously during recovery, many organizations interviewed in the scoping study by faculty at the University of Zambia suggested that a common space was needed for non-governmental and humanitarian organizations to convene and share their collective expertise with one another as well as to strategically lobby for more proactive and socially just policies around disaster prevention, relief, and recovery.

Another recurring comment made by participating institutions during the meeting was concern that the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), with a mandate under the 2010 Disaster Management Act to coordinate all relief activities in Zambia, does not currently place enough emphasis on disaster risk reduction, community preparedness, and resilience in its long-term recovery activities.

““We need to act before the disaster!” one workshop participant asserted. “We cannot afford to sit around waiting for the event to occur.””

This conviction, which seemed to resonate among all of the representatives at the planning meeting, became central in ZHAP’s vision statement, which was later articulated in the work groups: to proactively promote a culture of disaster mitigation, management and sustainable recovery across all scales in Zambia. Read more …

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