Resources - Spring 2012 Newsletter

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Adaptation and Resilience: The Economics of Climate, Water and Energy Challenges in the American Southwest

Edited by Bonnie G. Colby and George B. Frisvold, The RFF Press Water Policy Series, February 2011.

In America’s arid southwest, climate change will occur in the context of already-keen competition for water for agriculture, urban growth, electricity generation, water-based recreation, and environmental protections. Adaptation and Resilience: The Economics of Climate, Water and Energy Challenges in the American Southwest explores the challenges that climate change and variability pose for water and energy managers and users, communities, and policy makers in the arid Southwest and demonstrates the application of economic methods to address these challenges. It provides valuable tools for both those interested in resource management and climate change, and those seeking to understand how economic methods can be used to analyze contemporary social problems and craft appropriate responses.

The book considers both adaptation to long-term climate change and more immediate issues of water and electricity management in the face of inter-annual climate variability and drought. Thus, no matter what one’s perspective on long-run climate change projections, the book provides useful lessons for some of the region’s most pressing resource management problems.

The Water-Energy Nexus in the American West

Edited by D. Kenny and R. Wilkinson, Edward Elgar Publishing, December 2011.

The nexus between water and energy raises a set of public policy questions that go far beyond water and energy. Economic vitality and management of scarce and precious resources are at stake. The Water-Energy Nexus in the American West contributes to the body of knowledge and understanding regarding water, energy, and the links between the two in the American West and beyond.

The book’s first part details the basic methodologies and approaches to analyzing energy inputs to water systems and the water requirements for energy systems, providing suggestions for efficiency improvements. Part two focuses on the water necessary for energy production, including aspects of carbon capture and sequestration, oil shale developments, coalbed methane, solar thermal power production, and biofuels. A chapter specifically focusing on the energy consumed by the Central Arizona Project (Eden et al.) was contributed by WRRC’s Director S.B. Megdal and Assistant Director, S.Eden, along with Christopher Scott of the UA Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and Melissa Lamberton, University of Iowa. The chapter uses the Central Arizona Project to illustrate the connections between economic growth, water scarcity, and the need for environmental stewardship. The final section of the book provides recommendations for more efficient linkages in the water-energy nexus.

The research and analyses presented by the authors shed new light on the choices that must be made in order to avoid unnecessary harm in the development and management of water and energy systems to meet public needs in an ever-changing environmental and economic climate. Indeed, the book shows that thoughtfully designed new technologies and approaches can help
restore damaged environments and provide a range of benefits. The focus is the American West, but many of the lessons are global in their applicability. Students and researchers in economics, public policy, environmental studies and law along with planners and policy-makers will find this accessible and very current volume invaluable.

Arizona Blue Ribbon Panel on Water Sustainability

By Channah Rock, Chuck Graf, Christopher Scott, Jean E. McLain, and Sharon Megdal

Arizona Cooperative Extension has published a bulletin (AZ1567, May 2012) on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Water Sustainability. The summary covers the purpose of the Panel, its discussions and recommendations, and outlines next steps. Copies are available at For more information, contact Channah Rock

The Final Report of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Water Sustainability can be accessed at http://www.azwater. gov/AzDWR/waterManagement/BlueRibbonPanel.htm

Science-Policy Dialogues for Addressing Vulnerability and Adaptation to Global Change in the Arid Americas

By Christopher A. Scott, Robert G. Varady, Francisco Meza, Elma Montaña, Graciela B. de Raga, Brian Luckman, and Christopher Martius, Environment, 54(3):30-42.

This article examines dialogues as adaptive responses to adverse effects of global environmental change that affects available freshwater supplies. The focus is on two areas experiencing water stresses relating to global change: the Sonora-Arizona drylands shared by Mexico and the United States and the drylands east and west of the Central Andes in Chile and Argentina.

“In these areas water remains acutely limited even as drought and flood extremes increase, ecosystems are under growing pressure, and economic globalization drives water demand.”

There exist policies and actions that can alleviate some of the harm. Discovering and implementing these policies is the work of scientists, agency personnel, civil society, and decisionmakers engage in sustained efforts to reduce vulnerability and improve adaptation through science-policy dialogues. By looking at dialogues in the two study areas, the authors draw conclusions about the effectiveness of such dialogues and the conditions that contribute to their success.