On April 4th, 2016, Dr. Dana Fisher, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Program for Society and the Environment at the University of Maryland, joined a panel hosted by the UMD School of Public Policy to discuss the implications of the recent climate agreement reached at the meeting of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. The panel, titled "Post-Paris Download: the UN Climate Negotiations and What's Next for Climate Action," also included climate experts from the School of Public Policy including Dr. Robert Orr (Dean, School of Public Policy), Dr. Nate Hultman (Associate Professor, School of Public Policy and Director, Center for Global Sustainability), and Dr. Anand Patwardhan (Professor, School of Public Policy). Dr. Fisher discussed the role of civil society in the achievement of the Paris Agreement and the potential for continued activism and civil society participation in climate politics.
The event was featured in the Diamondback. Photos from the event are posted on the Policy School website, and video of the event can be viewed below or on YouTube.
Author: Mary DeStefano
On March 2nd Dr. Victoria Chanse, Associate Professor in the Plant Science and Landscape Architecture Departments at the University of Maryland, presented her research about community-based approaches to addressing storm water runoff and sea level rise, at the Workshop for Society and the Environment.
Dr. Chanse’s research explores the role of the designer and planner in developing community-based approaches, as well as different methods to encourage public involvement in seeking solutions to storm-water management and sea level rise. She also looks for examples where cross-disciplinary collaborations are occurring and new approaches are being developed by combining the approaches of designers, community members, and social scientists.
PSE Executive Director Dana R. Fisher joined the Scholars Strategy Network's Avi Green to discuss scientific communication, decision-making, and echo chambers in the US climate change policy world on Episode 24 of the No Jargon Podcast.
PSE Fellow William Yagatich has a new post on the Maryland Sea Grant Fellowship Experiences blog. Read more about his perspectives becoming a father while pursuing a PhD in Sociology here.
In January, 2016, distinguished scholars from the field of Environmental Sociology gathered at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) in Annapolis, Maryland as part of the 2015-2016 Socio-Environmental Immersion Program.
The Immersion Program focuses on the diverse scholarly traditions, research methods, and theories that make up socio-environmental science. Designed for a diverse interdisciplinary group of early career scholars including SESYNC postdoctoral fellows and researchers from a range of other postdoctoral positions and doctoral programs across the US (PSE Fellow Anya M. Galli is a member in the 2015-2016 cohort), the Immersion Program consists of five collaborative workshops led by top scholars from ecology, economics, sociology, anthropology, and the science of global change. According to the program website, “the workshops are designed to immerse participants in theories and methods foundational to understanding current environmental challenges and their underlying S-E systems.” Scholars’ lectures are live-streamed on the SESYNC website and posted online.
This figure presents twitter traffic of with the terms "terrorism," "guns," or "climate" in them from 7 November to 6 December 2015. Conversations about terrorism peaked around the attacks in Paris and have since gone down almost to pre-attack levels. Climate gained a lot of attention since the COP-21 negotiations began a week ago on 30 November. However, discussions of climate-related issues has been dwarfed by discussions about gun violence in the wake of the two mass shootings in the US on 2 December. Now that many heads of state have left Paris, it is unlikely that climate coverage will peak higher than the beginning of the negotiations.
--Dana R. Fisher, email@example.com
Authors: Amanda Dewey and Mary DeStefano
On Wednesday November 18th, Dr. Melissa A. Kenney, who is an Assistant Research Professor at the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center at the University of Maryland,presented her research on global climate change indicators. Her talk, entitled “Indicators: Are They Useful for Decision-Making”, outlined Dr. Kenney’s in-progress research project, which looks at the usefulness of indicators to help non-scientific audiences better understand the science of climate change, and builds on her broader research interests surrounding how to integrate both scientific knowledge and societal values into policy decision-making.
Kenney defines an indicator as “a regularly updated representation of status, rates of change, or trends of a phenomenon using measured data, modeled data, or an index to assess or advance scientific understanding, to communicate, to inform decision-making, and/or to denote progress in achieving management objectives”. Indicators such as GDP and Unemployment Indices are used to assess a country/state/county/etc.’s economic well-being; Kenney’s project explores if similar models of assessment could be used to better understand environmental well-being, and particularly global climate change.
This figure presents twitter traffic for #COP21 (the hashtag for the climate talks that officially began on 30 November 2015) and any tweets with the terms "terrorism" or "climate" from 31 October to 30 November 2015. Conversations about terrorism peaked around the attacks in Paris and have since gone down, but not to pre-attack levels. Climate change has gained substantial attention leading up to the negotiations. So far, however, coverage does not come close to the terrorism peak after the attacks. Twitter traffic is likely to continue to focus on climate as heads of state address the Parties in Paris.
--Dana R. Fisher, firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent research on climate politics and echo chambers by Dana R. Fisher, Joseph Waggle, and Lorien Jasny was featured in Contexts Magazine (and its accompanying blog at Contexts.org). Read it here.
Author: Gabriela Vaz Rodrigues
I am currently a PhD Candidate in Geographical Sciences and PSE Seed grant recipient. The Workshop for Society and the Environment of October 14th featured a presentation on my ongoing research on contemporary tree cover change in Haiti. As an introduction, I talked about the complexity of tree cover change in general as a phenomenon involving a multitude of inter-related agents, factors, impacts, feedbacks, and temporal and spatial interactions and about the use of Geographical Sciences, remote sensing and geographic information systems to help connect disciplines and study such problems in a more holistic way. The presentation then explored my research topic within its particular context, as well as the research questions and methodology.
Deforestation in particular is recognized as a critical impediment for Haiti’s development. It degrades the environment on which its population depends, the subsistence of its farmers, increases their vulnerability to the weather, and may contribute to climate change. Tree cover is widely assumed to represent between 1 and 4% of Haiti’s total land area. Remarkably however, no empirical data on tree cover actually exists for the whole country. Also, quantitative studies on factors of tree cover change in Haiti are scarce and have focused primarily on afforestation in specific areas and on a limited number of drivers. To fill these gaps my research includes an unprecedented estimation of tree cover change at the national scale between 2002 and 2010, and seeks to identify both geographic and socio-economic drivers of tree cover change. It takes advantage of a unique, exhaustive collection of aerial photography to estimate tree cover change and to visually collect data on area-specific factors of deforestation. It will also rely on a large survey to be conducted among households in selected municipalities to collect information on plot and household-level factors of tree cover change.