Being Prepared for Climate Change: A Workbook for Developing Risk-Based Adaptation Plans

This workbook and the associated resources guide users to develop a risk-based climate change adaptation plan consisting of a vulnerability assessment and an action plan to reduce the most pressing risks.

Green Guide for Universities

The ten universities that comprise the International Alliance of Research Universities released a new publication — the Green Guide for Universities — at the international conference Making Universities Sustainable Conference in Copenhagen last week. The guide, which addresses key areas of sustainability at universities, ranging from laboratory design to managerial and organizational aspects, makes it easier for universities around the world to become more sustainable.

Loaded with Lead series details lead hazards at shooting ranges

Read the continuing series from the Seattle Times. The three parts include:

About the series (from the Seattle Times web site):

“Loaded with Lead,” an ongoing, yearlong investigation into lead hazards at shooting ranges nationwide, is based on tens of thousands of pages of public records and scores of interviews. Among the interviews were those with range employees and owners, public-health and workplace-safety officials, regulators, shooters, construction workers, family members, and medical and firearms experts.

Reporters gathered several thousand enforcement records from Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries and from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to build custom inspection databases. After analysis, these data sets provided key findings. The national database of 201 commercial shooting ranges that had been inspected details more than 1,900 violations between 2004 and 2013. Because the violations were identified by regulation code, The Times consulted hundreds of federal and state occupational-safety standards to determine which violations were lead-related.

Reporters filed scores of public-records requests with public agencies in numerous states, including Washington, California, Alaska, Kentucky, Iowa, Florida and Illinois. Among the documents: workplace inspection files (including correspondence, emails, handwritten notes, photos, audio and videos); court files; police reports; and property records. They also obtained federal records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from several regional and state OSHA offices.

Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you’ve never heard of

Read the full story in The Guardian.

In 2011, an ecologist released an alarming study showing that tiny clothing fibers could be the biggest source of plastic in our oceans. The bigger problem? No one wanted to hear it

Coping with Water Scarcity

Read the full story from the University of California, Riverside.

As California enters its fourth year of severe drought, Southern California water agencies have turned to new pricing structures, expanded rebate programs and implemented other means to encourage their customers to reduce consumption.

Some of those policies have greatly reduced per capita consumption, while others have produced mixed results, according to a report published in the UC Riverside School of Public Policy journal Policy Matters. The journal is published quarterly by the School of Public Policy, and provides timely research and guidance on issues that are of concern to policymakers at the local, state, and national levels.

Climate Change Impacts Countered By Stricter Fisheries Management

Read the full story from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

A new study has found that implementing stricter fisheries management overcame the expected detrimental effects of climate change disturbances in coral reef fisheries badly impacted by the 1997/98 El Niño, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Behavioral Economics Applied to Energy Demand Analysis: A Foundation

Download the document.

Neoclassical economics has shaped our understanding of human behavior for several decades. While still an important starting point for economic studies, neoclassical frameworks have generally imposed strong assumptions, for example regarding utility maximization, information, and foresight, while treating consumer preferences as given or external to the framework. In real life, however, such strong assumptions tend to be less than fully valid. Behavioral economics refers to the study and formalizing of theories regarding deviations from traditionally-modeled economic decision-making in the behavior of individuals. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has an interest in behavioral economics as one influence on energy demand.

Leidos Engineering, LLC (Leidos), previously known as Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), conducted research on behavioral economics and energy demand, and reports the following in the contract report in Appendix A:

  • “Research revealing that energy consumption can vary widely (by a factor of nearly three) among homes and households with nearly identical characteristics1,2
  • Research revealing widespread and consistent disconnects between attitudes and behaviors regarding the importance of the impact of energy consumption on the environment and awareness regarding energy consumption or conservation behavior3
  • A variety of papers and studies suggesting energy efficiency policies and program adjustments to address the implications of particular irrational behaviors and cognitive limitations, such as labeling schemes, framing of energy efficient choices as avoiding losses rather than making gains, replacing small value rebates with larger value lottery-based awards, among other tactics4
  • Research suggesting that households that received reports regarding their consumption relative to neighbors were demonstrated to cut their usage by 2.5 percent, in a sustained manner.
  • Research work suggesting that a large portion of subsidies for hybrid automobiles and solar panels go to free riders, who would have adopted the more energy efficient technology anyway.”

These above findings lend strong evidence to the need for the current National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) framework to continue keeping pace with either existing or developing best practices in energy economics with respect to consumer behavior. There is substantial research interest within the government, academia, and trade organization communities in consumer behavior with respect to energy demand and efficiency, especially as program funding targeting energy efficiency continues to increase. EIA hosted a technical workshop5 on behavioral economics and recently released a nationwide inventory providing detailed summaries of energy efficiency evaluation reports—commonly called evaluation, measurement, and verification (EM&V) reports6 —on electricity and natural gas programs. Energy efficiency program budgets have rapidly expanded, and in many states now approach supply-side capital investment in scale. Behavior is commonly considered a key aspect of energy efficiency programs.7

A key finding of the contract report, reflecting expert input from the technical workshop as well as subsequent research, is that the implementation of the modeling structures in NEMS has an inherent tendency to relax key assumptions in the neoclassical framework. While this finding supports the current implementation of demand modeling in NEMS, experimentation with aggregate demand specifications remains warranted. Preliminary approaches are described in the report.

The contract report in Appendix A characterizes and defines behavioral economics with respect to energy economics and demand analysis, and helps to both inform the public and to provide the information and foundational concepts for potential enhancements in EIA’s statistical and modeling programs. When referencing the contract report in Appendix A, it should be cited as a report by Leidos Engineering, LLC prepared for the U.S. Energy Information Administration.