Fall 2006 Environment & Society News Archive

Kathleen Tierney is a member of the Committee on Disaster Research in the Social Sciences: Future Challenges and Opportunities, which was responsible for writing the following report, which was released in mid-August. Committee activities were funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and the National Research Council.

Facing Hazards and Disasters: Understanding Human Dimensions. 2006. National Academies Press, Washington, DC. 408 pp. ISBN 0-309-10178-6. www.nap.edu/

The report provides over thirty recommendations regarding research needs in the field of hazards and disasters.


In September, 2006, the Natural Hazards Center launched a new, updated and reorganized web site, at http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/


Lee Alston hosted the ISNIE (International Society of New Institutional Economics) 10th Annual Conference, “Institutions: Economic, Political and Social Behavior,” Sept 21-24, 2006 at the Millennium House Hotel in Boulder. The program included over 50 panel sessions and a keynote lecture by the 1993 Economics Nobel Laureate Douglass C. North. The program for the conference can be found on the ISNIE website: www.isnie.org.


Chuck Howe gave the opening plenary talk at the annual Illinois State Water Conference at the University of Illinois in Urbana on Oct 4th. The topic was "Sharing Western Water Lessons with the Midwest", emphasizing that the semi-arid regions have evolved institutions and agencies to deal with water scarce situations. The "riparian water law" of the eastern states that evolved in England when water was used to power mills and that has been adopted by states east of the Mississippi is not suited to water scarcity. In the light of climate change and the likelihood of more frequent, more intense droughts in the upper Midwest, consideration of adoption of versions of the western institutions is appropriate now, before Midwestern water systems come under stress. In particular, the use of water withdrawal permits (somewhat akin to western water rights) that are tradable and divisible would be a desirable and probably acceptable first step.


Gilbert F. White remembered

With great sadness, we have to report that our dear friend, colleague, and mentor, Gilbert F. White, known worldwide as the "father of floodplain management" and one of the most distinguished and internationally recognized faculty members at the University of Colorado at Boulder, died on Oct. 5 at his home in Boulder. He was 94.

The world is a better place for having had Gilbert in its midst. Gilbert was that rare combination - a distinguished scientist and an outstanding humanitarian committed to translating scientific evidence into policy and programs to better people's lives. His was a life to celebrate.

Gilbert's family is planning a memorial on Saturday, November 11 at 1pm at the Spice of Life Event Center, 5706 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder.

Memorial gifts can be made to the Gilbert F. White Graduate Research Fellowship in Natural Hazards Mitigation. Checks should be made payable to the University of Colorado Foundation and sent to the Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado, 482 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0482.

Alternatively, contributions can also be made to the Gilbert White Fellowships, Resources for the Future, 1616 P Street NW, Washington, DC 20036.

New York Times |  Washington Post |  Rocky Mountain News |  Boulder Daily Camera

Gilbert's obituary | Gilbert's website | University of Colorado News Release


The Natural Hazards Center welcomes 2 REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) students, Nick Passanante and Ashly Barlau. Nick is a sophomore in the Political Science department at CU. His major academic interests include the American Political system, with particular interest in how specific social aspects of society (ie- terrorism, natural disasters, cultural aspects of individual geographic areas) impact political legislation, political leaders and political "language" and vice versa. Ashly is a junior in the Anthropology department at CU. Her main focus is the physical aspect of her field, perhaps in forensic anthropology, but is also interested in the cultural aspects. The Center looks forward to working with these two talented undergraduate researchers!


Sophia Liu is one of two current doctoral students to be transferred immediately into the interdisciplinary doctorate degree program in Technology, Media and Society, unanimously approved by the CU Board of Regents. Sophia is working as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Natural Hazards Center in the Environment and Society Program. Her current project is researching how people use technology such as cell phones to communicate in the midst of natural disasters.


Jeannette Sutton and Kathleen Tierney prepared a white paper, "Disaster Preparedness: Concepts, Guidance, and Research", for the "Assessing Disaster Preparedness" Conference, Sebastopol, CA, Nov. 3-4. The conference resulted in the development of a research proposal which is currently under review at the Hewlitt Foundation.


Kathleen Tierney presented "From the Margins to the Mainstream? Disaster Research at the Crossroads." Invited public lecture, Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, Washington State University, November 8, 2006.


Kathleen Tierney presented "Social Vulnerability: A New Paradigm for Disaster Research." Keynote presentation, annual conference of the Institute for Business and Home Safety, Orlando, FLA, Nov. 16. This presentation was also given at the National Center for Atmospheric Research Directors' Meeting, September 21, 2006; the University of British Columbia, October 9, 2006; and Washington State University, November 9, 2006.


Lori Hunter's article, "HIV/AIDS and the Natural Environment", has been included on the Population Reference Bureau website, at: www.prb.org


Lori Hunter and Kathleen Tierney presented a poster, along with their NREL colleagues, at the Energy Initiative's Research Symposium on October 3, 2006 at the University Memorial Center on the Boulder Campus.


Lee Alston is giving a presentation at the Political Institutions Economic Policy Working Group hosted by Harvard University on December 9, 2006.


Kathleen Tierney was interviewed extensively and appears on-screen in the full-length documentary film "The Water's Edge," produced in 2006 and currently airing on public television stations around the U. S.