William R. Travis, Ph.D.
R.W. Kates on the WWW:
I’m working with Bob Kates to get as much of his written work on the web as possible, and we’ve built quite an extensive archive----a treasure chest of enquiry into the human and environmental prospect---at: www.rwkates.org Contact me or Bob if you have material to contribute.
Reports / Working Papers / Presentations
Draft report of results from NSF SGER Project 083596 on Human Dimensions of the Pine Beetle Outbreak in the Rocky Mountains:
(PDF): "Human Dimensions of the Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak in the Greater Niwot Ridge LTER Landscape: Specifying Anthropogenic Feedbacks and Socio-Economic Impacts in a Coupled Human-Natural System"
working paper (PDF): "Geoengineering the Climate: Lessons from Purposeful Weather and Climate Modification"
I teach in the environment and society field of Geography, including classes in natural hazards, land use, and human ecology. Recently-taught courses:
My research examines the interaction of environment and society, in two main realms: (I) social response to climate change and extreme events; and (II) coupled social and natural systems, including land use and anthropogenic transformations of land cover, with a focus on the American West. Here are some representative projects:
Decision and Risk Analysis applied to climate adaptation: When does it make sense to change resource management systems to accommodate climate extremes, or climate change? Just because some losses occur when extremes hit does not necessarily mean that society is mal-adapted or that individuals should change behavior or location. This depends on the interaction of the probability, the consequence, and the risk tolerance of the individual or community. These factors can be modeled and efficient points of adaptation identified. We try to do this with decision models as illustrated at: http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/research_areas/dm/index.html
A posted presented at the 2012 Society for Risk Analysis is here: poster (PDF): "An agent-centered decision analytic approach to climate adaptation"
Extreme Climate Change: Recent climate studies and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) point to the potential, albeit small, for extreme climate change over the next century as anthropogenic global warming ramps up and geo-physical "tipping points" are encountered. While the bulk of impacts and adaptation studies should logically focus on the more likely, less extreme, scenarios, some attention must be paid to the possibility of severe, abrupt, and quite disruptive climate change. How will social systems respond to the threat of extreme climate change? What can we learn from human response to typical natural risks, like hurricanes and floods, that would help us anticipate human response to, say, rapid sea level rise (if Greenland melts), mega-droughts, and super-hurricanes? Do we need a rapid climate change warning system? This recent article in Climatic Change addresses such questions:
"Going to Extremes: Propositions on the Social Response to Extreme Climate Change”
“Two Decades and Two Adaptation Panels: What Progress?” comparing NRC climate change assessments:
“Snowmageddon Policy and Politics”
“Emergency Use Only: Geo-engineering to Reduce Global Warming”
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