D7: Flash Talk Session - Place-Based Case Studies: Land, Water, and Energy

Local data, knowledge, and engagement to improve disaster preparedness

Susan Anenberg, Associate Professor, George Washington Univeristy

Climate change is inextricably tied to a growing number of disasters of various types, including natural (e.g., tropical cyclones and severe floods, extreme heat waves), man-made (e.g., destruction of rainforests), and “NATECH” or natural disaster-triggered technological disasters (e.g., chemical plant releases or explosions subsequent to flooding). Given the breadth of events and the nature of their cascading health and societal impacts, climate change is severely complicating preparedness planning at local, state, and national levels. With limited resources for preparedness, decision-makers increasingly need new and novel ways to identify affected populations, gather relevant data to characterize hazard exposure, and communicate/translate messages to different stakeholders. This session will cover how local data, knowledge, and community engagement can be used to identify population vulnerability, characterize hazard exposure, and communicate risk to improve disaster preparedness. Within the context of different disaster scenarios related to climate change (natural disasters, human development, NATECH events, and all-hazards planning), the speakers will (a) describe the environmental health hazards and impacts associated with each disaster scenario; (b) demonstrate how science is being used to address the problem and aid decision-making (either through research or translation efforts); and (c) highlight remaining challenges and needs for the future.


Power of Place: Land Conservation and Clean Energy Pathways for California

Maya Batres, Project Manager, Energy and Land Use, The Nature Conservancy

In 2018, California enacted legislation that sets a goal of 100% zero-carbon electricity retail sales by 2045 (SB100), complementing earlier commitments to reduce GHG emissions by 80% below 1990s levels. Recognizing the need to develop significant amounts of new zero-carbon energy resources, we explore pathways to meet California's clean energy demand in alignment with economy-wide decarbonization goals, while integrating ecological considerations. The study applies four different levels of siting constraints based on environmental considerations within three geographic sourcing areas; in-state, a “partial west” scenario, and a “full west” scenario. The study shows that many land areas across the West have high renewable resource potential and conservation values, creating the potential for conflict between renewable energy and land conservation goals. Yet, we find that with strategic planning, there are multiple pathways to achieving this clean energy target while avoiding significant ecosystem impacts. As states consider clean energy policies, this assessment can be a model for linking conservation planning and long-range energy system modeling to achieve deep decarbonization.


Contingent valuation of Loma Miranda: analysis of social preferences

Victor Gómez-Valenzuela, Research Professor, Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC) 

​This research aims to explore the social preference in terms of willingness to pay of the Dominican society for the conservation of the Loma Miranda site, in the Quisqueya mining concession located between the provinces of Monseñor Nouel and La Vega. Between 2012 and 2014, the Dominican society was the protagonist of acrimonious debate about the conservation or exploitation of the mining resources of Loma Miranda. Two groups clashed: the conservationist groups in favor of turning Loma Miranda into a protected area and the groups in support of mining exploitation. The public debate forced the Dominican government in October 2012 to request the United Nations Development Program collaboration to assess the quality of the environmental impact assessment commissioned by the mining company. A high-level commission was constituted and yielded its report in May 2013 concluding the severe limitations of the environmental impact assessment, such as the omission of economic analysis ecosystem services provided by Loma Miranda. This omission affected a more balanced determination of the magnitude of environmental impacts, although this was not an explicit requirement of the terms of reference elaborated by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources
The use of contingent valuation to elucidate public choices about public or quasi-public goods relate to the environment and natural resources to support the decision-making process is not new. Fundamentally Contingent Valuation Method creates an open market or contingent scenario in which respondents declare their preferences for a good or services for which there is no market to be exchanged by using detailed questionnaires to estimates the willingness to pay or WTP for such kind of good and services.
The sample frame was Dominicans citizens over 18 years old, active workers at the moment of the survey with at least primary economics responsibilities as head of households, and representative of the four macro-regions in which the Dominican territory is divided. The four macro-regions (North, South, East, and Ozama or Santo Domingo metropolitan area), covers 10 regions, 32 provinces, and around 158 municipalities. The estimation of the WTP for a Program for Conservation and Ecological Restoration of Loma Miranda took place by estimating a survival function or nonparametric estimation and by two statistical models one of the so-called simple model and the second one so-called the full model. 
The nonparametric WTP can be calculated as the area below the survivor curve which in this case would be approximate $DOP151.00 Dominican pesos per month and family, which is equivalent to U.S. $2.99 or $3.00 at the average exchange rate during the first semesters of 2019. In general terms, both the simple and the full model work properly, which is indicated by the statistically significant p-value (X1), and negative sign which reflect a decreasing demand curve as expected given the applicable economic theory. In the simple model, the average monthly payment per household is $DOP160.00, which is equivalent to U.S. $3.20 per month per household, and with a variation interval of $DOP 139.00–160.00. In the full model, the average monthly payment per household is $DOP 159.00, equivalent to U.S. $3.10 with a variation interval of $DOP 139.00–179.00. The negative sign of both models suppose from the perspective of respondents a clear understanding of the implication of protecting Loma de Miranda. This understanding refers to the cost and depending on the size of the required contribution they may not be of interest for in protecting Loma Miranda, in other words as a higher amount of pesos a lower probability that respondent would support a restoration and conservation program for Loma Miranda.


Integrating needs of underresourced communities in climate change policy

Jeanne Herb, Executive Director, Environmental Analysis and Communications Group, Rutgers University

I am currently engaged in two research projects that share the characteristic that they are focused on addressing the needs of underresourced communities in climate change mitigation and resilience planning and policy. One project is focused on better understanding the needs of socially vulnerable populations in climate resilience planning. The second is focused on better understanding opportunities and options to direct state climate policy and programs to the benefit of disadvantaged consumers and communities. Similar lessons are being learned with regard to each of these projects with regard to: the nature and articulation of public policy, upfront participatory processes, establishment of minimum policy commitments, measurement and monitoring, and application of complementary policies.
In this flash talk, I will provide an overview of shared lessons learned from these two initiatives with a focus on integration of those lessons learned into policy development and implementation. As part of this effort, I will outline recent lessons learned from examination of efforts throughout the country, review of the literature, key informant interviews with diverse stakeholders, focus groups with residents in underresourced communities and examination of ongoing practices.
The flash talk will have a particular focus on applicability of my research on these areas to ongoing efforts across the U.S. Note that one of these two studies will be completed and public by the time of the NCSE Annual Conference. The second study will not be complete until March 2020; however, the tasks associated with this study (key informant interviews, focus groups, literature review) are complete and initial findings will be available.

Competition for Scarce Water Resources: Climate-change science informing policy

Yehuda Klein, Professor and Chair, Brooklyn College Department of Economics

Water is the primary medium through which society will feel the impacts and effects of climate change. Water availability is becoming less predictable in many places, and increased incidences of flooding threaten to destroy water points and sanitation facilities and contaminate water sources. In some regions, droughts are exacerbating water scarcity and thereby negatively impacting people’s health and productivity. Ensuring that everyone has access to sustainable water and sanitation services is a critical climate change mitigation strategy for the years ahead. We will examine the engagement of climate change science with policies to mitigate water conflicts over the allocation of scarce water and energy resources.
Competition for scarce water resources has a long history in the United States, particularly in the arid Southwest and Colorado River basin. Even in the relatively water-rich Northeast, water conflicts have arisen, as exemplified by conflicts between New York City and the communities surrounding the New York City watershed. Those conflicts ultimately lead to the 1997 Memorandum of Understanding in which New York City agreed to compensate upstate communities for agreeing to protect water quality in the New York City watershed. The conflicts in the arid regions of the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, although more severe, may foreshadow the types of conflicts we can expect in the United States as a result of population growth, urbanization, and climate change. At the forefront of finding solutions, the modeling of water usage and conservation will create performance metrics that will allow a multi-decision framework to evolve. The tracking of water metrics and the transparency of the data will strengthen policy frameworks and will provide incentives to stakeholders to comply with agreements.


Trust and Cooperative Decision-Making Over Transboundary Water: A Pilot Project

Lindsay Sansom, Research Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University

Along the Texas-Mexico border, different management regimes, property rights, and uses for groundwater are overlapping or conflicting, which has led to unilateral takings on both sides of the border and severe aquifer degradation. This paper is motivated by the expectation that, in the face of surface water scarcity and increased reliance on groundwater resources, improved water security requires stakeholders to engage in cooperative decision-making. Within this type polycentric governance, it is difficult to obtain policy integration and cooperation, particularly given the number of conflicting water uses and users. Exploring the role of trust in cooperative decision-making can help to understand constraints to collective action and effective transboundary water management. This research provides insight into how binational stakeholder engagement impacts levels of trust and whether or not increased levels of trust can lead to increased cooperation over shared transboundary water resources. Trust in social and political institutions has proven to be a central tenant of social capital and a necessary condition for achieving cooperative behavior. This study discerns whether trust alone is a sufficient variable to increase cooperation, and how repeated interaction with binational counterparts seems to impact willingness to engage in cooperative behaviors. Results from this project identify points of contention and disunity between decision-makers of transboundary policy in Texas and guide interventions to promote cooperation in protecting our most vital resource.


Revisiting Knowledge Systems for Sustainable Development 

Frank Alcock, Associate Professor, New College of Florida 

The challenge of connecting knowledge to action remains at the forefront of the global sustainability agenda nearly two decades into the 21st century. While far from complete, the accumulated knowledge about our planet and the myriad of ecosystems that comprise it has blossomed this century. So has the technological accessibility of this knowledge. This has not led to more sustainable policies and behavior in most societies. Nor does it seem to have led to societal consensus about the extent of our sustainability problems let alone the most appropriate way to address them. This presentation intends to re-examine earlier work that the author has contributed to regarding knowledge consumers’ perceptions of salience, credibility, and legitimacy as well as the institutional necessity of managing boundaries between producers and consumers of knowledge. Core claims of the presentation will include: (1) trust is critical to perceptions of legitimacy; (2) contemporary information landscapes have generated a societal “trust crisis;” and (3) knowledge systems for sustainable development need to navigate the trust crisis in order to be effective.


Strengthening Local Climate Commitments:  Adding the local faith voice and science-based practices to unite and focus community efforts

Doris Marlin, Lay Leader, Unitarian Universalist Ministry for the Earth

Grounding faith and community activists around science-based best practices achieves better outcomes at the local level.   The faith voice brings moral authority to the climate justice movement and is trusted within communities.  Strengthen Local Climate Commitments, SLCC, builds from these strengths and science-based strategies to inform local policy decisions.  When community efforts grow and strengthen state-wide, they feed into national policies, into the U.S. Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that are foundational to GHGs reductions and into achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; local actions with global benefits.