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This handbook is intended to support communication within and among states, their respective regulatory and resource agencies, non-profit organizations, municipal water providers, industries, and farming communities about adapting western state water laws to meet the numerous demand and supply challenges that lie ahead. It also serves as a means of transferring ideas and spurring innovation in policy by collecting some of the more novel approaches to water law in the Western U.S.1 As a result, it is written for a wide audience.
The high demand for water, the recent multiyear drought (1999–2007), and projections of global warming have raised questions about the long-term sustainability of water supply in the southwestern United States. In this study, the potential effects of specific levels of atmospheric warming on water-year streamflow in the Colorado River basin are evaluated using a water-balance model, and the results are analyzed within the context of a multi-century tree-ring reconstruction (1490–1998) of streamflow for the basin.
Public policies to mitigate the impacts of extreme events such as hurricanes or terrorist attacks will differ depending on whether they focus on reducing risk or reducing vulnerability. Here we present and defend six assertions aimed at exploring the benefits of vulnerability-based policies.
This paper introduces an analytical framework for evaluating the vulnerability of people and places to environmental and social forces. The framework represents the relative vulnerability of a variable of concern (e.g. such as agricultural yield) to a set of disturbing forces (e.g. climate change, market fluctuations) by a position on a three-dimensional analytical surface, where vulnerability is defined as a function of sensitivity, exposure, and the state relative to a threshold of damage.
Emerging recognition of two fundamental errors under-pinning past polices for natural resource issues heralds awareness of the need for a worldwide fundamental change in thinking and in practice of environmental management. The first error has been an implicit assumption that ecosystem responses to human use are linear, predictable and controllable. The second has been an assumption that human and natural systems can be treated independently.
The geographic location of Bangladesh at the confluence of the three mighty river systems of the world renders the country one of the most vulnerable places to natural disasters. Human-induced climate change exacerbates the problem. This study shows that the government of Bangladesh has already established a multi-layered institutional mechanism for disaster management, with formal recognition of the role of various stakeholders.
Changes in boreal climate of the magnitude projected for the 21st century have always caused vegetation changes large enough to be societally important. However, the rates and patterns of vegetation change are difficult to predict. We review evidence suggesting that these vegetation changes may be gradual at the northern forest limit or where seed dispersal limits species distribution.
Robust ways to meet objectives of environmental conservation and social and economic development remain elusive. This struggle may in part be related to insufficient understanding of the feedbacks between conservation initiatives and social–ecological systems, specifically, the ways in which conservation initiatives result in social changes that have secondary effects on the environments targeted by conservation. To explore this idea, we sampled peer-reviewed articles addressing the social and environmental dimensions of conservation and coded each paper according to its research focus and characterization of these feedbacks. The majority of articles in our sample focused either on the effect of conservation initiatives on people (e.g., relocation, employment) or the effect of people on the environment (e.g., fragmentation, conservation efficacy of traditional management systems).
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land retirement contracts will begin to expire in late 1995. A multinomial logit model is used to identify characteristics influencing New Mexico CRP participant post-CRP land use plans. Results indicate post-CRP land uses intentions will vary with attributes reflecting characteristics of the land enrolled, socioeconomic variables, and participant attitudes. Results point to a CRP-facilitated retreat from crop production to future ranching by many producers. The analysis suggests future changes in the structure and character of southern Great Plains agriculture and surrounding communities.
As the magnitude of human impacts on the ecological systems of the planet becomes apparent, there is increased realization of the intimate connections between these systems and human health, the economy, social justice, and national security. The concept of what constitutes “the environment” is changing rapidly. Urgent and unprecedented environmental and social changes challenge scientists to define a new social contract. New fundamental research, faster and more effective transmission of new and existing knowledge to policy- and decision-makers, and better communication of this knowledge to the public will all be required to meet this challenge.