Spring 2006 Environment & Society News Archive

Sarah Stapleton participated in the Weather and Society * Integrated Studies (WAS*IS) workshop conducted by Eve Grunfest and Julie Demuth through the Societal Impacts Program at NCAR and the U.S. Weather Research Program on July 13-21. The goal of the workshop is to integrate social science and weather science to empower practioners, researchers, and stakeholders to better understand how weather information is perceived and to make weather information more accessable and useable by larger segments of the public. Workshop participants came from a variety of backgrounds including weather forecasters, anthropologists, media, and economists.

Chuck Howe gave a plenary talk entitled "Water As A Commodity" to the 31st Colorado Water Workshop at Western State College in Gunnison, July 26-28, 2006. Several points of view of the values associated with water were presented by several speakers, including values and cooperation in the old Hispanic acequia systems, the agrarian origins of current water law, water values eminating from forest lands, contemporary urban values, and ecosystem values. The session was chaired by Justice Greg Hobbs of the Colorado Supreme Court. A main point of Howe's paper was to debunk the frequently asserted dichotomy of "water as a public good versus water as a commodity". Water never has the properties of a true "public good" and no water market, wholesale or retail, operates without some social oversight. A second point was that the existing legal framework that militates against "speculation" (all irrigation farmers speculate in water) and overly protects existing water rights is increasingly inefficient and costly to all water users. Coasian bargaining cannot overcome these problems because of the large number of parties involved.

John Wiener gave a paper at the annual conference of the Universities' Council on Water Resources in Santa Fe, July 18-20, 2006, "Moving Towards More Efficient Water Markets: Institutional Barriers & Innovations", the result of work that he and Chuck Howe have carried out over the past three years under NOAA sponsorship. Water markets, under various forms of policy oversight, are playing an increasing role in the re-allocation of water in response to increased urban and environmental demands. The main questions were ,"What features of successful water markets can be incorporated in emerging, new water markets?" and "What are the barriers to this institutional transfer?" The main lessons from successful markets have been that transaction costs must be kept low and that it must be possible to complete transfers quickly. Current barriers include legal rulings that are overly protective of existing water (property) rights and increasingly costly both to the agricultural and urban sectors.

The Natural Hazards Center held the 31st Annual Hazards Workshop at the Millennium Hotel from July 9 - 12. The workshop brought together nearly 450 disaster researchers and practitioners from around the world to discuss and debate critical issues in disaster research, preparedness, response, and mitigation. The opening keynote address was provided by Margareta Wahlstroem, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. The plenaries and concurrent sessions covered a range of topics, from recovery after Hurricane Katrina to the politics of international disasters and the role of journalism in reporting disasters. The final plenary focused on the state of federal emergency management in the United States and featured former-FEMA director Michael Brown as a disscusant. Summaries of the sessions and plenaries will soon be available on the Center's website.

The Natural Hazards Center Goes to Washington

In June, 2006, the Center partnered with the Congressional Hazards Caucus and the American Sociological Association to host a congressional seminar on critical social issues in hazards facing the United States. For a standing room only audience of Capitol Hill staffers, federal agency representatives, and others, a panel of experts spoke about pressing post-Katrina hazards issues and answered questions on a variety of topics. Following an introduction from Dennis Wenger of the Hazards Reduction and Recovery Center at Texas A&M University, Center director Kathleen Tierney discussed the social issues that arose in the storm's response. The other featured speakers were Howard Kunreuther from the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the Wharton School of Business, who presented the pros and cons of comprehensive disaster insurance, and William Anderson of the National Academies of Science Natural Hazards Roundtable, who spoke about a forthcoming report by the National Research Council: Facing Hazards and Disasters: Understanding Human Dimensions.

The seminar is the latest effort by the Center to expand its educational and outreach efforts to new constituencies. Members of Congress and their staff are important partners in hazards mitigation efforts both within their own districts and for the entire nation. Through efforts such as this, the Center introduces more people to hazards and disasters research and literature and provides solid scientific information to important decision makers.

John Wiener presented a review of potential biology issues related to water transfers and the lack of information on irrigation as hybrid ecology at the Society for Conservation Biology June 24-28, 2006.

Jeannette Sutton presented "Social Vulnerability and Natural Hazards" for Qwest Business Continuity Managers on June 21, 2006 in Denver, CO.

Jeannette Sutton presented "Convergence of the Faithful - Spiritual Care Response to Disaster and Mass Casualty Events" at the Society for Pastoral Theology Annual Conference, June 16, 2006 in Littleton, CO as part of an immersion experience related to the Columbine High School Shooting.

Jeannette Sutton and Kathleen Tierney presented "Disaster Research as a Specialized Field of Inquiry: History and Human Subjects Considerations" at the Office of Human Research Protocols national education conference "Special Populations/Special Research Situations" on June 1, 2006 in Denver.

Lee Alston was among twenty scholars who met in Chicago June 1-3, 2006 to discuss the future of the commons and the anticommons. The well-known tragedy of the commons story (which has the structure of a Prisoner's Dilemma) and its more recently developed counterpart, the tragedy of the anticommons, have provided influential focal points for thinking about property regimes and resource allocation. The discussants considered the continuing vitality of these conceptual templates in real property, natural resource, and intellectual property contexts, addressed possible refinements and theoretical extensions, and discussed potential avenues for further research. The conference was organized by the Law and Economics Program of the University of Illinois.

Thalia R. Goldstein is a visiting researcher at the Natural Hazards Center as a Department of Homeland Security graduate fellow. She is a doctoral student at Boston College in Psychology. She is interested in creativity and improvisation in the face of disaster and will also be working on the START project on regionalism and preparedness. Thalia holds a B.A. cum laude from Cornell University.

The Natural Hazards Center RESCUE team researchers, Jeannette Sutton, Sophia Liu, and Kathleen Tierney, coordinated and hosted an event on Earthquake Information Dissemination in Irvine, CA on May 26, 2006. This event brought together leading researchers, emergency managers, and policy experts within the natural, computer, and social sciences to discuss the feasibility and barriers to the dissemination of earthquake information to publics at risk.

Several faculty from IBS participated in the 4th Annual "Wits-Brown-Colorado-APHRC colloquium on Emerging Population Issues" held May 21-25 in Nairobi, Kenya. Funded by the Hewlett Foundation, the colloquium is designed to foster collaboration across participating institutions through the sharing of information on ongoing research, recent findings and plans for the future. The network also aims to strengthen advanced academic training in population studies within sub-Saharan Africa and a special session was held on the topic. This year's colloquium was hosted by the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), and prior to the meeting, participants had the opportunity to learn about APHRC's research on population-health issues in sub-Saharan Africa, and also make field site visits to APHRC's demographic surveillance sites in 2 Nairobi slums. Participating in the colloquium were Jane Menken, Jason Boardman, Lori Hunter, Randall Kuhn, Richard Rogers, Enid Schatz, and Georges Reniers. Jill Williams and Steve Graham also served important roles on the organizing committee.

Jane Menken with APHRC director Alex Ezeh.

John Wiener presented a description of the alternative forms of water transfer that are under consideration in the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, at the Environment and Water Resources Congress of the American Society of Civil Engineers in May, 2006.

Kiara Christianson recently joined the Natural Hazards Center as the Publications Administrator/Assistant. She has a B.A. in Environmental Geography from the University of South Florida in St Petersburg, FL.

Lee Alston gave a keynote address to the European School of New Institutional Economics at Cargese Corsica on May 19, 2006.

Erica Kuligowski gave an invited lecture, "From Theory to Application: A Review of Human Behavior in Fire and the Current Approach of Evacuation Modeling," for the Fire Marshal's Association of Colorado in Golden, CO on May 19, 2006.

Lee Alston gave a seminar at Carlos III in Madrid on May 11, 2006.

Lee Alston gave a series a lectures in May 2006 based on his work in the New Institutional Economics at the Univeristy of Paris 1- The Sorbonne.

Gilbert F.White honored by CU

The Institute of Behavioral Science is proud to announce that our dear friend and internationally-renowned colleague Gilbert F. White has received an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. The award was presented to Gilbert by the Chancellor of the University, Dr. Phil DiStefano at a celebratory reception at the Koenig Alumni Center, May 17, 2006.

Kathleen Tierney gave a presentation entitled "Environmental Justice and Disasters" at the Environmental Studies Student Lecture Series on Environmental Justice, UC Boulder, April 3, 2006.

Kathleen Tierney gave an invited roundtable presentation entitled "Myths About Disaster Behavior and Their Relevance for Bioterrorism Preparedness" at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Public Administration, Denver, CO, April 2.

Christine A. Bevc presented a paper, co-authored with Kathleen Tierney, entitled "Disaster as War: Militarism and the Social Construction of Disaster in New Orleans" at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Sociological Society (SSS) New Orleans, LA, March 23, 2006.

Kathleen Tierney presented a paper entitled "Hurricane Katrina: Catastrophic Impacts and Alarming Lessons" at the Berkeley Symposium on Real Estate, Catastrophic Risk, and Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, March 23, 2006.

John Wiener gave a presentation on some progress and problems in pursuing climate information applications through improved water transferability at the Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop March 21-24, 2006.

Lori Hunter attended the 2nd National Conference on Population, Health, and the Environment in Cebu City, Philippines, March 15-17. The conference brought together practitioners, policymakers, researchers, media representatives, community leaders and advocates to explore the links among population, health and environment for sustainable development. Hunter presented the research by herself and colleague Wayne Twine on HIV/AIDS, natural resources and food security in rural South Africa. www.pheconference.com

Professor Brigitte Desaigues, Professor of Economics at the Sorbonne, Universite Paris I, passed away on March 15th. Brigitte first came to the Environment and Behavior Program in the summer of 1989 to work on a book The Economics of the Natural Environment with her colleague, Patrick Point. That project was completed in the summer of 1992 and she has graced the E&B Program every summer since. Her research on environmental values convinced Electricite de France to change the way they operate their reservoirs better to preserve the shorelines for birds and wildlife. Her work with her husband, Dr. Ari Rabl (Ecole de Mines, Paris) on the environmental impacts of various energy cycles has been influential in shaping E.U. energy and waste management policies.

Brigitte was a vivacious, enthusiastic individual, always very committed to her research but always with time to appreciate her friends in Boulder. She was loved by all who knew her, and her departure leaves a great gap in our individual lives and in that of the Program.

Greg Guibert, program manager at the Natural Hazards Center, and Sarah Stapleton, a graduate student at the Center, participated in the Prototype Training Workshop for Educators on the Effects of Climate Change on Seasonality and Environmental Hazards in Bangkok, Thailand. The workshop was sponsored by the Center for Capacity Building at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Asia-Pacific Network (APN). The workshop gathered educators from Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, China, and the United States to create multidisciplinary curriculum covering how climate anomalies and climate change affect seasonality, human activities, and settlements. March 6-10, 2006.


At its meeting on March 2nd, the University of Colorado Board of Regents voted to award an Honorary Degree to Gilbert F. White during Commencement ceremonies at the end of Spring semester. This is an extraordinary recognition of the extraordinary achievements of our most senior--and most admired--colleague. Gilbert's contributions across the decades have been legion (see Gilbert F. White website: http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/gfw), and he has brought international distinction and renown not only to the University but to the Institute of Behavioral Science, as well. Director of IBS from 1970 to 1980, he established a climate of collaborative collegiality that has characterized its endeavors ever since, and his scholarly leadership has helped to shape the Institute's future. Gilbert was nominated for this award by the IBS Board of Directors, and the nomination was supported by many of the campus' most distinguished faculty and by the Department of Geography. Among his many other achievements, Gilbert was recognized for having reshaped the discipline of geography to encompass natural hazards, for developing a paradigm for flood plain management across the globe, and for establishing the Natural Hazards Center in IBS. We take pride in counting Gilbert a colleague and friend, and IBS congratulates him on this most appropriate and well-deserved award.

Kathleen Tierney gave an invited lecture entitled "Preparedness for Catastrophic and Near-Catastrophic Events: Issues and Challenges in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina" for the "Quake '06" Lecture Series, Standford University (February 28) and the University of California, Berkeley (March 1) 2006.

Sophia Liu, a graduate research assistant at the Natural Hazards Center and an Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society PhD student, has won a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, awarded March 29, 2006. Ms. Liu's research, conducted in coordination with her advisor Professor Leysia Palen, is entitled "Public Expressions: Peer- to-Peer Communications in Response to Crises." Recent crisis events around the world have drawn new attention to the role information communication technology (ICT) can play in improving warning and response activities. ICTs are enabling emergency responders as well as members of the public to develop new ways in which to respond to a crisis. Ms. Liu's work will build an analytical framework for describing public communications following a disaster through remote and in-field ethnographic studies of real disaster events. Examining both low- and emerging high-tech forms of citizen communications, she will develop prototypes and implications for peer-to-peer, location- aware, and hybrid digital-physical technologies that support different forms of information seeking, provision and personal expression. She will consider how, as people acquire and synthesize information from multiple sources, the publics role following disaster will continue to evolve.

Since Hurricane Katrina, Kathleen Tierney has been providing advice and guidance to the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina. She is quoted in the Committee's report, "A Failure of Initiative," which was officially released on February 15.

Meet the newcomers to the Natural Hazards Center! Let us introduce you to Anne Watts, Adam Morenberg, and Jon Sawicki. Anne Watts is new to the university system as a temporary employee at the Natural Hazards Center but hopes to be added on as a permanent staff member in the near future. She and her husband and two lovely dogs live in Broomfield. They both are passionate about trail racing. She just completed a 100 mile run in Huntsville, TX. Adam Morenberg is a graduate research assistant at the Natural Hazards Center and a doctoral student in the department of sociology here at CU. In addition to his work at the Hazards Center, Adam specializes in social psychology, ethnographic research methods and socio-cultural studies of gender, sexuality, health and illness. Jon Sawicki is a senior Geography major here at CU graduating in May 2006. His studies here at the University have been dominated by classes in political geography, international development, and physical sciences. He is particularly interested in how urban areas can prepare for and respond to disasters both natural and man-made.

Erica Kuligowski, a graduate research assistant at the Natural Hazards Center, is being recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce with two prestigious awards: a bronze and a gold medal. The bronze medal recognizes the extraordinary support demonstrated by Erica and three of her colleagues at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Fire Research Division to ensure the accuracy and quality of the analysis, simulations, final report, and recommendations of the investigation of the Station Nightclub Fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Erica is also a member of a team of 37 individuals awarded a gold medal for scientific and engineering achievement and administrative and technical support in conducting the World Trade Center disaster investigation. Final reports documenting both of these projects are available on the NIST Web site at http://www.nist.gov/.

In February, Natural Hazards Center staff member Julie Baxter was recognized with the 2005 Student Achievement in Natural Hazard Risk Reduction award from the State of Oregon's Partners for Disaster Resistance & Resilience. Julie was the project manager of a graduate student team from the University of Oregon who received the award for their work on the Lane County Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The award is given for projects executed by a student or group of students in 2005 that has shown exceptional merit in the field of natural hazards risk reduction.

Presentation: Kathleen Tierney. 2005. "Social Science, Disasters, and Homeland Security." Invited seminar presented at the U. S. Department of Homeland Security, February 14.

Poster Presentation to the National Science Foundation's National Science Board

On February 10th, Kathleen Tierney and Christine Bevc presented a poster on the Natural Hazards Center to the NSF's National Science Board. The poster session was part of the Science Board's meeting highlighting NSF-funded work here at CU. The Natural Hazards Center was one of only 24 posters selected from the 515 NSF-funded projects across campus for this session.

Kathleen Tierney has had a number of contacts with the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee regarding its investigation of the Katrina disaster. She submitted written testimony to that committee in January, 2006.

Jeannette Sutton presented on social science research and disasters at the Boulder County Optimist Club on January 11, 2006. During the talk, Jeannette presented an overview of the Natural Hazards Center and focused on the Quick Response research related to Hurricane Katrina.

Poster Presented at RESCUE All-Hands Meeting in January

Christine Bevc, Carter T. Butts, Sophia Liu, Miruna Petrescu-Prahova, Remy Cross, Lorien Jasny, Ben Lind, Jeannette Sutton, and Kathleen Tierney. 2006. "Emergent Multiorganizational Networks following the World Trade Center attacks." Poster presented January 9-10, 2006 at the 2nd Annual All-Hands Meeting, Responding to Crises and Unexpected Events (RESCUE).

Kathleen Tierney (director), Christine Bevc (graduate research assistant), and Sophia Liu (graduate research assistant) traveled to San Diego for RESCUE's second annual All-Hands Meeting. During the meeting they presented a poster of their on-going collaborative work with researchers at the University of Califorina-Irvine. The poster illustrated the emergent multi-organizational networks (EMONs) following the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.